OpenTravel Alliance considers panel on standards for ancillary services

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If you expected airline executives to figure out a way soon to develop technology standards related to what is known as ancillary services, including things like meals, checked bags and premium seats, be prepared to wait awhile.

The development of standards would make it much easier for the global res systems to retrieve this inventory, currently accessible mostly on airline websites, so that travel agencies, both online and traditional, could readily book it.

It turns out that the OpenTravel Alliance, an industry group that concerns itself with tech standards, isn't detecting a great push from the airlines to get to the bottom of this issue at this juncture.

"Currently, the individual airlines disseminate ancillary services in various formats," said Valyn Perini, executive director of the Washington-based group. "We've had conversations with the airlines, but frankly, given how stretched they are in the current economic climate, working together to create messaging standards for ancillary services doesn't seem to be a priority for them."

Perini noted that OpenTravel historically takes a back seat to IATA, a quasi-regulatory body, when it comes to developing operational-messaging standards for the airlines. But depending in part on the economic situation, OpenTravel may establish a work group in the second half of 2009 to address the airlines' ancillary services issue, she added.

On other fronts, OpenTravel, which will conduct an Advisory Forum in Seattle from April 20 to 22, is focusing on developing static- and dynamic-packaging messaging, Perini said. This could be used by adventure-travel and other vacation providers; OpenTravel also may work with the vacation-rental market to standardize distribution messaging, he added.

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