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NDC@Scale Certification

As the NDC standard moves towards critical mass, with all major stakeholders engaged, IATA is keen to continue to provide transparency, visibility and guidance to the industry. For this purpose, IATA is introducing a new concept called NDC@Scale. NDC@Scale is a set of criteria that will demonstrate that airlines (and their IT providers), aggregators and travel sellers have a minimum set of recognized capabilities to drive volumes of NDC transactions towards 2020.

To determine the key criteria for NDC@Scale, IATA commissioned a survey to better understand the expectations that NDC stakeholders have of each other to ensure better alignment in the drive towards critical mass. The study gathered 32 participants from across the industry landscape: airlines, sellers, corporate buyers and system providers, and was conducted through interviews and questionnaires over a period of three months in 2018.

NDC@Scale is a key component of the airline Leaderboard roadmap towards critical mass and features as a milestone for 2020. NDC@Scale Airlines will be displayed in the NDC Registry starting in September 2019.


​Introduction 

As part of the NDC Certification Program, NDC@Scale Certification reviews an entity’s supporting documents to certify the ability to process volumes of NDC sales against certain criteria.  There are four dimensions of the criteria used for NDC@Scale certification:

  • Technical Setup
  • Organization Setup
  • Use Cases
  • Capabilities

A variety of supporting documents are requested for the NDC@Scale certification, including policies, agreements, access to environments, and the applicant’s self-reporting.  This mixture of documents and self-reporting is used to validate that the applicant has the capability to scale NDC sales without adding undue burden within the certification process.

Currently only airlines can apply for NDC@Scale certification.  As a prerequisite, airlines must be NDC Certified Level 4 on NDC schema version 17.2 or later to be eligible for NDC@Scale certification.

Business Travel Ready

As part of its engagement with the business travel community, via its Global Travel Management Executive Council (GTEC), IATA has added a recognition for "Business Travel Ready" airlines. This will provide transparency of airlines who have the capabilitites TMCs have said are needed to serve the needs of the business travel community. 

NDC@Scale Certification does not validate the quality or other aspects of the Applicant’s activities or products, stand-alone or in comparison with those of other entities, nor does it validate, certify or endorse any commercial products that may be derived from the usage of NDC messages validated under NDC@Scale Certification.  Furthermore, by maintaining the NDC Registry, IATA does not take any position with respect to the relative quality or other aspects of the activities or products of entities that are not certified under NDC@Scale Certification.


Technical Setup

Technical setup is the capability of managing scalability, availability and performance proportional to the growth of the consumption of the airline’s NDC API with regards to response times, system availability, concurrent transactions per second and error management.

Applicants for NDC@Scale certification will be asked to demonstrate their technical setup has the required capability by providing documentation highlighting the presence of all four requirements.  The NDC@Scale certification does not prescribe the minimum or maximum metrics for the requirements, but rather that the company has considered these requirements and included them in planning their technical setup for NDC.

Organization Setup

Organization setup considers two areas than an airline needs to implement to support volumes:

  • Business function to connect new partners
  • Business function to support ongoing operations


Full support to connect new partners (travel agents, aggregators...) can be measured by the following elements:

  • Having a developer portal/test environment (Sandboxes) 
  • Having documentation such as an Implementation guide available 
  • Having dedicated staff
  • Having an established and documented registration process for NDC API access
  • Having a new partner onboarding policy and process in place


For the support of new partners, certification requires the submission of supporting documents.  These supporting documents include:

  • URL to developer portal / test environment
  • Copy of or URL to the implementation guide
  • Copy of partner (aggregators and sellers) onboarding policy


Full support to run the ongoing operations can be measured by the following elements:

  • Having a help desk in place
  • Having a bug tracking tool 
  • Having issue management (i.e. debugging, error solving, acknowledgment time)


For the operational support setup, NDC@Scale certification requires the applicant to self-report these support activities. Documentation is not required to be provided and IATA does not validate the operational setup self-reported by the applicant.

Use Cases

Use cases consider the implementation of standardized messages workflows across the industry. IATA has been working with the industry to create reference use cases and recommended workflows to facilitate the adoption of the NDC standard. This is particularly important for aggregators and/or travel agents connecting to several airlines. 

The IATA Enhanced and Simplified Distribution Implementation Guide contains the standard processes for NDC message use as developed and adopted by airlines. This standard includes processes supporting use cases which form part of the mandatory requirements for NDC@Scale Certification. The version of the IATA Enhanced and Simplified Distribution Implementation Guide used for validation will correspond to the schema version in the submitted message traces.   Access the NDC messages based on the current schema version.

The mandatory use cases for NDC@Scale certification are:

  • SHOP - Shopping for flights and ancillaries
  • ORDER CREATION - Basic Order creation
  • ORDER SERVICING - Voluntary, customer initiated
    • Change of itinerary
    • Full Order cancellation
  • ORDER SERVICING - Involuntary, airline initiated with notification
    • Change of flight time outside the operational window (schedule change)


The above use cases correspond to the following Business Functions described in the IATA Enhanced and Simplified Implementation Guide under Distribution:

  • SHOP
    • Shopping
  • ORDER CREATION - Basic Order creation
    • Shopping and Ordering with Deferred Payment
    • Shopping and Ordering with Instant Payment
  • ORDER SERVICING - Voluntary, customer initiated 
    • Change of itinerary
    • Full Order cancellation
  • ORDER SERVICING - Involuntary, airline initiated with notification
    • Schedule Change

For certification, a company must provide the message traces from at minimum 80% of the implemented mandatory use cases that are compliant with the IATA standard. Implemented use cases and messages are validated and will be listed in the NDC registry. 

Capabilities

Capabilities consider the coverage of key features powered by an NDC API and the ability for airlines to replicate some features currently possible through the traditional channels as well as the ability to provide additional content.

For NDC@Scale certification, a company is asked to self-report the capabilities implemented in a live environment powered by an NDC API.  Reported capabilities will be listed in the NDC Registry.  IATA does not validate the capabilities self-reported by the applicant.

Business Travel Ready: The IATA Global Travel Management Executive Council (GTEC) has provided feedback on the capabilities needed for NDC business travel distribution.  As a special acknowledgement of those applicants that have self-reported the capabilities the GTEC recommended for business travel, within the NDC registry the companies will be recognized as Business Travel Ready.  IATA does not validate the capabilities self-reported by the applicant.

Below are listed the capabilities set out for NDC@Scale certification.  For the applicant to be certified it must self-report 75% of the capabilities as implemented in a live environment powered by an NDC API.  Business Travel Ready capabilities are denoted in bold and must be 100% met to receive the recognition in the NDC registry.

SHOP Capabilities:

  • Shop - for flights and ancillaries
  • Shop - by common ancillary - (e.g.Seat, extra bags)
  • Shop - including seat selection
  • Shop - based on calendar (fare + or - x days)
  • Shop - based on passenger type (e.g. infant, senior, military, resident...)
  • Shop - by Multi city/Open jaw itineraries
  • Shop - Airline offers based on private fares (corporate fares, tours, etc.)
  • Shop - Airline offers with localization (offers in local language)
  • Shop - Describing offer rules
  • Shop - by other ancillaries - Third party content (e.g. travel insurance, lounge pass, meal, WIFI...)
  • Shop - with airline loyalty program 
  • Shop - including non-air ancillaries (e.g. hotels, cars, rails)
  • Shop - Airline dynamically build and/or personalized offers
  • Shop - Airline providing bundled offers (e.g. supporting pick 1 of 3)
  • Shop - Airline offers with rich content
  • Shop - Airline offers including discounted benefits and/or promotions 


ORDER/SERVICE/PAY Capabilities:

  • Order - Basic order creation
  • Order - creation of airline bundle
  • Service - Order changes initiated by the customer - e.g. itinerary, contact details, upgrade, adding an ancillary
  • Service - Order changes initiated by the customer - remove passenger from order in multi-passenger scenarios
  • Service - Order changes initiated by the customer - name correction
  • Service - Order changes initiated by the customer - seat selection
  • Service - Order changes initiated by the airlines with notifications - e.g. flight schedule, flight cancellation, passenger upgrade or downgrade
  • Service - Order changes resulting in an Order Cancellation without refund
  • Service - Order changes resulting in an Order Cancellation with refund
  • Service - Retrieve an Order
  • Service - Implementation of Order History
  • Pay - using Cash (BSP, ARC, etc)
  • Pay - using Credit cards
  • Pay - using Debit cards
  • Pay - using airline loyalty
  • Pay - Deferred payment (Order on hold)
  • Pay - using mixed payment instruments (e.g. cash + loyalty points or voucher redemption)
  • Pay - using 3D-Secure  

How to apply

Download the NDC@Scale application form for airlines (word), contact the certification team and access the results of the industry survey used to create the criteria in the NDC@Scale: Roadmap to Critical Mass.

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