With Spirit Airlines enabling agents to book pre-checked bags in the GDSs, it becomes just the second U.S. carrier to offer this functionality.
US Airways offers this capability in Sabre.
Some international carriers offer U.S. agents the ability to book bags in the GDSs. Aegean, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, El Al, Finnair and WestJet offer baggage in Sabre.
Air France, KLM and South Africa Airways offer the ability to book and fulfill bags in Apollo in the U.S. Seventeen non-U.S. carriers offer baggage booking capability in Amadeus; implementation is pending in the U.S. market.
The booking of pre-checked bags — and overhead space for carry-ons — are Spirit’s first ancillary services in the GDSs. The functionality is available in Amadeus, Sabre, Apollo/Galileo and Worldspan.
Spirit allows agents to book one checked bag and one carry-on per passenger. If they have to book more than one, it has to be done on Spirit’s website.
It also costs more to check a bag on Spirit through the GDS that it does on the website. A Spirit spokeswoman explained that difference by saying that its website is the airline’s lowest-cost distribution channel, so that’s where Spirit offers its lowest prices..
“We are excited to give our travel agency partners, and thus our mutual customers, an even more user-friendly and streamlined experience when booking travel on Spirit,” said Rich Lowry, Spirit’s director of distribution and sales strategy.
While Spirit is in the GDSs, it is not in ARC, which means agents have to message their clients’ billing information to Spirit using specific formats; Spirit then issues the ticket.
In May, Spirit gave agents their own agent portal on their website, which includes a name-your-own-commission tool that agents can use to add a service charge.
The fares that agents access on the portal are as low as the fares offered on Spirit.com, with the exception of the airline’s $9 Fare Club prices.
There is some debate in the agency community about booking ancillaries because it is work for which agents receive no compensation. Nonetheless, according to a 2012 PhoCusWright study, a “significant majority” of leisure and corporate agents are booking ancillary services.
Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.