Cory6188
Topic Author
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Airline GDS System Communications

Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:05 pm

One of the most amazing things about the airline industry, for me at least, is the entire network of airline GDS systems and the incredible complexity associated with maintaining and organizing the millions (billions?) of reservations held by pax on hundreds of airlines in hundreds of countries around the world.

One thing I have always wondered about is how all of the different computer terminals for all of the airlines, scattered all around the world, "talk" to each other. The GDSs all existed way before the advent of the internet, so I'd doubt that they are connected over a traditional internet connection. I'm sure that someone on here could give me some insight as to how this works. Also, another thing I've always wondered about is how the different systems from different airlines and travel agents interface so quickly and smoothly. A while back, I made reservations using OnePass miles through CO reservations in TPA for interisland flights on HA (which was done in SHARES by the CO res agent), and then 30 seconds later, I was on the phone with an HA agent in HNL doing seat assignments for those flights with whatever res system they use.

How does all of this function? It's quite a miraculous feat, in my opinion, that everything works so well together (most of the time, at least  Wink ).
 
Thomas_Jaeger
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:42 pm

Airlines use teletype messages for communications between different CRS and GDS systems, typically using the communication networks of SITA and/or ARINC. IATA has defined rules for all of these processes and all systems have to comply with these guidelines. Typically you will find that it will take less than 2-3 seconds or so to get a response from any other system, even if a slower messaging option is used.
Swiss aviation news junkie living all over the place
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:06 pm

Quoting Cory6188 (Thread starter):
The GDSs all existed way before the advent of the internet, so I'd doubt that they are connected over a traditional internet connection. I'm sure that someone on here could give me some insight as to how this works

Intersystem messaging was essentially invented for the airline industry back in the 60's and many of the protocols were designed specifically for this purpose, things like X.25 (I think). SITA (Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques) was set up by the airlines to provide networks to support inter airline messaging, and IATA devised a set of messaging standards that all airlines apply (more or less  irked  ) when sending booking and reply messages to each other.

Quoting Cory6188 (Thread starter):
A while back, I made reservations using OnePass miles through CO reservations in TPA for interisland flights on HA (which was done in SHARES by the CO res agent), and then 30 seconds later, I was on the phone with an HA agent in HNL doing seat assignments for those flights with whatever res system they use.

This would have been a Type-B teletype message sent direct from SHARES to Sabre (where HA is hosted), which would have been processed automatically and replied to in a matter of seconds by Sabre.

The message would have looked like this:

QU HDQRMHA <------ Addressed to Hawaiian pre-designated point HDQ RM HA
.LAXRMCO 121212 <------- From Continental's pre-designated point LAX RM CO
LAXCO xxxxxx/... <------- Continental's PNR reference (record locator) and Point of Sale info
1YOUR/NAME <------- Passenger's name (or names)
HA123 Y 22DEC HNLOGG NN1/1200 1300 <----- Flight details (NN1 means Need 1 Seat)

The reply from CO would have looked something like this

QU LAXRMCO <------ Addressed to Continental pre-designated point
.HNLRMHA 121213 <------- From Hawaiians's pre-designated point
HNLHA yyyyyy <------- Hawaiian's PNR reference (record locator)
LAXCO xxxxxx <------- Continental's PNR reference (record locator
1YOUR/NAME <------- Passenger's name (or names)
HA123 Y 22DEC HNLOGG KK1 <----- Flight details (KK1 means 1 Seat Confirmed)

These are ordinary asynchronous booking and response messages, and are the oldest form of inter-airline machineable messaging. In addition to Type-B, GDS's (and some airline systems) use real-time booking/response messages to communicate with airlines, that allow space to be deducted from the airline's inventory as soon as the flight is entered into the booking, rather than waiting until the booking is completed before sending a message. These types of real-time messages are called Type-A, and use UN EDIFACT protocol for message format and syntax. There are real-time messages for not only sell, but also availability requests, seatmap requests, seat requests, frequent flyer number validation and a lot of other functions, and most airlines support at least a subset of these messages when communicating with GDS's

GDS's use these realtime messages as a matter of course, but between individual airlines this is much rarer, as this type of messaging is more costly and requires improved networks to support the traffic.
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
Cory6188
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:30 pm

Wow. Thanks for the incredibly detailed post, JGPH1A. You definitely answered my question, even if I only understood about 80% of it.  Wink
 
AirScoot
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 3:40 am

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 2):

What he said..  Smile There has been some development of some GDS interaction using XML as well allowing some of the newer generation GDS providers such as Navataire to play with the larger more established providers.
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:04 am

Quoting AirScoot (Reply 4):
There has been some development of some GDS interaction using XML as well allowing some of the newer generation GDS providers such as Navataire to play with the larger more established providers.

That's true, but it is somewhat exceptional, and offers only partial benefits to LCC in Navitaire who want to distribute via GDS's. Navitaire just isn't built to interact with standard industry functions like electronic tickets and real-time messaging. Same with codeshare. The XML Ticketless Access products are fine for LCC's who want to sell to agents in their own specific local markets, even beyond them, but without combining the journey with other carriers; to harness truly "Global" GDS* distribution power, you need an inventory/Res system built with that in mind.

* - I use the term GDS to denote Global Distribution Systems ie. travel agent systems like Sabre, Worldspan, Amadeus etc. Navitaire is not a GDS, it is a CRS (Computerised Reservations System), although more properly it should be called a hosting system. Sabre and Amadeus also provide hosting services to airlines (such as Reservations, Ticketing, Inventory, Departure Control etc), in the case of Sabre these systems are seperate from their GDS, in the case of Amadeus the airline is hosted in same system as the GDS, there is no seperate airline partition.
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
searpqx
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:55 am

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 5):
in the case of Amadeus the airline is hosted in same system as the GDS, there is no seperate airline partition.

I've wondered about this recently. So is data access, security, etc, controlled by means of OID and Agent Security?
"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"
 
Viscount724
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:10 am

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 2):
SITA (Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques) was set up by the airlines to provide networks to support inter airline messaging, and IATA devised a set of messaging standards that all airlines apply (more or less ) when sending booking and reply messages to each other.

SITA was established by the airlines in 1949 and I believe it's still the world's largest private telecommunications network. The 11 original founding airlines were all based in Europe except for TWA. See the date links on the right for timeline.
http://www.sita.aero/News_Centre/Corporate_profile/History/default.htm
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:14 am

Quoting Searpqx (Reply 6):
So is data access, security, etc, controlled by means of OID and Agent Security?

Short answer, yes. For data access, by default, only the owning office of a PNR has access to the booking. The concept of Extended Ownership Security (EOS) allows access to be given to other offices (or corporates, using wildcards, which is the great thing about the OID) for read-only or read-write access. System user airline offices are normally given access to any PNR in the system holding that carrier's space, but this is by means of a security rule, and isn't always the case. Some carriers, for example, have offices that handle VVIP or military bookings, and they restrict access to those bookings to specific offices only. Travel agencies can normally only access their own bookings, or bookings made by the same corporate, again if the rule is set up to allow it. Airlines and agencies can give access to other offices in the system to individual PNR's using the ES security element in the PNR - this is how PNR Claim from other systems works as well. So it can be pretty flexible if required, otherwise data security is watertight.

Transaction security is managed through user-group and office profile. Every user and office has a profile that defines what they can and can't do. These profiles are managed by agency or airline Local Security or Central Security Administrators. We are moving this transaction and data security management to the new Logon and Security Server, developed as part of Inventory but which will replace all data and transaction security management in the system eventually, it has much more configurable role-based security and access control.
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
AirScoot
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:31 am

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 5):
That's true, but it is somewhat exceptional, and offers only partial benefits to LCC in Navitaire who want to distribute via GDS's. Navitaire just isn't built to interact with standard industry functions like electronic tickets and real-time messaging. Same with codeshare. The XML Ticketless Access products are fine for LCC's who want to sell to agents in their own specific local markets, even beyond them, but without combining the journey with other carriers; to harness truly "Global" GDS* distribution power, you need an inventory/Res system built with that in mind.

I was referring to the almost amazing decision to finally allow such deep dark corporate Navataire secrets such as seat maps and the like though XML. There was a write up in ATWOnline about it.
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:07 pm

Quoting AirScoot (Reply 9):
Navataire secrets such as seat maps and the like though XML.

Navitaire has seatmaps ? Do tell !
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
AirScoot
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RE: Airline GDS System Communications

Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:22 pm

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 10):
Navitaire has seatmaps ? Do tell !

They do.. they do...

FL and B6 both allow for PRS.. Take a look at the following article.. It's about half way down. While it specifically mentions FL the inference is a link to Navitaire. Of course, when trying to find this article it would have helped had I been able to actually SPELL Navitaire.

http://www.atwonline.com/news/story.html?storyID=9720