An IATA hackathon is a round-the-clock (28 hour) event gathering teams of developers and designers that compete against each other to develop innovative solutions to address an industry challenge.
Focused on IATA standards and initiatives, developers dive into the travel environment where they can work together to explore new business applications and generate exciting ideas. Solutions are presented to a jury, and the winners’ ideas are shared with the industry.
Unlocking business and technical creativity with hackathons
IATA hackathons were launched in 2015, initially focused on enhancing airlines’ retailing capabilities, they have been delivering successful ideas resulting in more than 24 implementations so far.
Their success relies on a simple recipe: access to schemas and technologies, a clock-ticking healthy pressure, a competitive spirit, IATA and key partners' industry expertise, all on hand to give guidance, opinion and technical assistance.
The series of hackathons that IATA have undertaken demonstrate its commitment to furthering innovation within the industry. Hackathons enable the emergence of startups such as Duffel to establish themselves as new impactful players in the industry value chain. They will continue to leave a mark in transforming the industry with the following three objectives:
- Develop: Foster new ideas for airline innovation based on IATA technical standards.
- Disrupt: Explore new business applications from industry standards and identify early stage startups to the industry.
- Enhance: By stress testing IATA schemas and technical standards, developers contribute to enhancing IATA technical standards.
Focus on hackathons
How does a hackathon run?
Both physical and virtual hackathons include two phases:
- Ideation phase– one week before the hackathon, an online platform is made available all registered participants, which includes access to the APIs’ documentation. The platform allows participants to submit and discuss ideas, ask questions, and find team members (if needed). API providers and industry experts are available, providing support and clarifying technical questions so participants are all set and ready when the event starts.
- Hackathon phase – the actual hackathon is the 28-hour coding period. Registered participants are asked to address at least one of the proposed challenges. They design and build a proof of concept with accessible data, technologies and the support of industry expertise.
- Incubation phase - through Accelerate@IATA program when relevant.
What are the benefits in participating in a hackathon?
- A strong collaboration and learning experience. Developers have the opportunity to attend workshops, talk to mentors and work with IATA subject matter experts to help guide the development of their ideas. From the startup perspective, it's an opportunity for team development like no other.
- Accessible data and technologies. IATA partners, global technology players give access to schemas and APIs Microsoft, AWS, SITA, CIRUM, Lindekin, Expedia to name just a few…
- Get exposure. Beyond the event, the winners get a chance to present their ideas to the industry, through IATA events (e.g, World Financial Symposium, AIR Symposium) IATA website, newsletters,etc.
- Win prizes. Hackathons incentives are diverse and substantial, from money, to flight tickets...
- Have Fun!
Who can participate in a hackathon?
An IATA hackathon targets 100-120 developers (for onsite hackathons with physical presence of developers/participants) and up to 250 developers virtually. The profile of the participants can be technical or non-technical as per the following descriptions:
- Coding developers – commonly referred to as “keyboard masters” and know how to create applications that extract key content from databases.
- Marketers - visionary individuals who are able to immerse themselves in a project that will revolutionize customer marketing.
- Innovators – outside-the-box thinkers that consider themselves entrepreneurs
- Designers - individuals who design applications to create a dynamic user experience for the end-user.
Teams can be created prior or during the first day of the hackathon. The teams must include a minimum of two up to a maximum of six members.
IATA Hackathon program
- IATA is currently working on the upcoming hackathon program for 2021. It will be featured here as soon as ready. Should you want to be informed of our next events, please send an email to email@example.com.
- In the context of enhancing airlines' retailing capabilities, IATA began organizing AIR hackathons in 2015 to work on the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard.The scope has since evolved to address other areas including: environment, blockchain, cargo, accessibility etc. To date, 18 IATA hackathons were completed. Below a summary of hackathons events and media assets when available.
Virtual - Sept, 2020
Leverage ONE Record API for the logistics supply chain
- Track & Trace
- Quote & Book
- PayCargo Challenge
- "Open challenge"
Riege Software, PayCargo
Supporting organizations: Devpost
Booking solutions for passenger with reduced mobility
Microsoft, Delta Air Lines, Air France/KLM and Virgin Atlantic, IBS Software, TIBCO Software, Boeing and Expedia Group
Supporting Organizations: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, HackAcess Dublin, EqualWeb Digital Accessibility
|See the picture gallery|
- Carbon offset
- Leisure travel
SunExpress and Fraport, Cirium, IBS Sofware, Duffel and TIBCO
Supporting Organization: AWS Travel
Crans Montana, Switzerland
- Optimizing baggage operations
- Enhancing travel for people with disabilities and reduced mobility
- Improving the end-to-end travel journey
- Corporate Booking Tools
- Cargo- ONE Record
Comunica+A, IBS Sofware, Duffel, and TIBCO
Supporting Organization: AWS Travel and Air Canada Cargo
- Improve passenger experience through dynamic offers
Expedia Group, IBS Sofware, Boeing, Cirium and TIBCO
Supporting Organization: AWS Travel and Microsoft
- Improve the passenger experience through dynamic offers
- Create scenarios using any Blockchain API
Finnair, IBS Sofware and TIBCO
Supporting Organization: AWS
- Reduce passenger stress (using at least one NDC APIs)
- Enhance the Air Cargo journey Experience (using OneRecord API)
Lufthansa Group, Geneva Airport, IBS Software, TIBCO, Unysis, PayCargo, Air Canada Cargo
Supporting Organization: Geneva Convention Bureau, Softweb, The United Nations
- AIR Hackathon - Washington, USA, Jun. 2018 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Kochi, India, Feb. 2018 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Paris, France, Oct. 2017 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - San Francisco, USA, Aug. 2017 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Dublin, Ireland, May 2017 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Dubai, UAE, Oct. 2016 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Berlin, Germany, May 2016 - Check the video
- NDC Hackathon - Hamburg, Germany, Oct. 2015 - Check the video
Innovative solutions, tangible impact
Frankfurt AIR Hackathon, 2019: App in the Air enables travelers to offset their environmental impact
App in the Air, one of the winning startups in the first ever carbon offset hackathon, help travelers choose flights that would emit lower carbon emissions from the start and incentivize them to do it.
During the event, the team developed an innovative booking platform for passengers to calculate the carbon offset they’ll need to pay, an Apple Watch functionality that shares personalized tips to become eco-friendlier and an augmented reality globe that shows a more-polluted vs. less-polluted earth. All this in 28 hours of coding!
Building on this, in 2020, the app’s released its Carbon Neutral Traveler feature, which provides statistics to help people understand what impact their flying habits have on the environment.
As a tangible action, travelers can make a donation to plant trees – which are shown on a map. The initiative will plant a tree for each flight booked through a partnership with the NGO One Tree Planted. More than 10,000 trees have been planted to date!
Berlin NDC Hackathon, 2016: Finn, the chatbot assistant for Finnair came to life.
In May 2016, the first prize winner of the IATA NDC Hackathon help in Berlin is a startup called Caravelo. Alike all IATA’s hackathons, the team took advantage of a third party API and industry experts to give guidance, opinion and technical assistance during the event.
Beyond the kudos and a cheque for 5,000 USD, Iñaki Uri, CEO at Caravelo, described the experience as follows “What really mattered was the follow up; the process that IATA opened up to us: presenting at the NDC Corporate workshop and ultimately presenting the solution at the World Passenger Symposium. Networking opportunities that money can’t buy helped to shape the NINA offering into what it is today”.
It was during those networking opportunities that the startup was able to pitch and contract its first NDC based partner Finnair, who chose the Caravelo solution as its second pilot program.
15 months after the Berlin Hackathon, Finn, the chatbot assistant for Finnair came to life.