UK travel agents hooked up to the Travelport global distribution system can now download a software application to book British Airways' pre-paid seats.
Previously, agents would have to book the pre-paid seats on BA.com.
With the new functionality, the booking is still made directly with the airline, but a Travelport software app places a booking option within travel agents' GDS workflows.
Travel agents can access this British Airways merchandising solution by downloading for free the Travelport Options Integrator, which links to the airline's pre-paid seating content, officials said. Once a segment is booked, the software application prompts the travel agent, indicating whether a pre-paid seat is available.
The solution triggers a Web application to open once the agent indicates interest in a pre-paid seat and then the agent books the seat directly with British Airways.
Thus, the solution is sort of a hybrid: It populates information about the pre-paid seating booking into the travel agent's PNR, but the booking is made directly with the airline.
The British Airways optional services offering, which enables consumers to pre-pay for exit row seats, went live in Travelport GDS in February and grew out of the content agreement signed by the two parties.
Travelport expects to make additiional announcements about optional services with other carriers through the GDS in the next few months.
"This development not only makes the booking process easier for agents but also enables them to offer even better customer service by offering to book a pre-paid seat," says Jason Clarke, managing director for Europe and Brazil for Travelport.
The launch of British Airways' pre-paid seating took place in the UK this month and other regions will get the functionality later in 2011, the companies say.