When cool heads prevail

If the travel industry had an "Applause" sign for the studio audience, it would be flashing brightly because of the latest twist in the saga of IATA Resolution 787. This is the document that seemed to turn half the world into airline haters when it was filed at the Transportation Department (DOT) nearly a year ago.

The latest twist is that the opposing factions have reconciled their differences, which is the outcome we've been hoping for.

The Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, a group that includes ASTA, the GDSs and a number of agencies and OTAs, agreed to drop its objections to the resolution if the DOT will impose several specific conditions and restrictions, to which IATA has agreed.

We hope the DOT accepts the offer and moves the process along. It's been stalled long enough.

IATA describes Resolution 787 as a blueprint for developing updated XML messaging standards for the exchange of reservations data and product information (including ancillary services and bundles) among airlines, their intermediaries, the GDSs and others in the distribution chain.

Ordinarily, that description would have put everybody to sleep, except that IATA also said this process could lead to what it calls a "New Distribution Capability."

An innocuous example might be an airline responding to an agent's GDS query with a customized offer to that particular client, based on a profile and buying history that the client and agency had previously agreed to share with the airline.

Unfortunately, some other examples were not so innocuous.

Resolution 787 triggered an unprecedented outpouring of hundreds of travel industry and consumer complaints to the DOT about what IATA might be up to, and in retrospect a lot of what poured out seems to have been completely unnecessary, given that the new language that resolves this controversy fits on a single typewritten page with room to doodle.

That tells us that this was a failure to communicate that should never have happened.
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