Manage flight changes in minutes with new Order Management features
Jonny Blackler · June 2022
Flight changes cause stress for passengers and can send your customer support team into overdrive. As part of our mission to make travel effortless, we’re excited to introduce new Order Management features to make it easy to manage airline-initiated changes (AICs) from 300+ airlines. Your customers will get a better experience and your support team can now process changes in minutes.
What is an airline-initiated change?
When one of your customers’ flights is cancelled or changed by an airline, it’s known as an airline-initiated change. This differs from a passenger-initiated change which, as the name suggests, is a change requested by the customer.
When an AIC happens, you as the travel seller get a notification email. You then need to investigate what changed – was the flight cancelled or did the time change – and find out which options are available for the customer – accept the change, choose another flight option, or cancel the booking. You also need to manually search the ticket conditions to figure out which free change options are available and find the relevant waiver codes. Without this step, you risk an agency debit memo (ADM) for making a change that goes against the airline’s policies.
The next step is for you to let the customer know their options, usually by email, phone, or online booking tool. You then need to wait for the customer to reply and choose their preferred option. Finally, you need to manually update the booking, reissue tickets, or cancel the booking depending on what the customer wants.
In some cases, airlines will communicate directly with customers despite the original booking being made with a third-party travel seller. This can lead to confusion about who’s responsible for managing the change and can leave you out of the communication loop.
The process for managing an airline-initiated change can take days with lots of back and forth – and that’s assuming no changes go unnoticed and customers don’t get notified. If you don’t handle these quickly, you risk damaging your customers’ trust in your brand and their willingness to use you for future bookings. These challenges compound when you’re handling changes across lots of airlines, all with their own capabilities and policies.
Introducing automated airline-initiated changes with Duffel
We’re making it easier for you and your customers to manage AICs with new Order Management features available with our Flights API today. The new features are live on all airlines across all major distribution channels with Duffel: direct connections with New Distribution Capability (NDC) airlines and low-cost carriers (LCCs), and airlines available through our Global Distribution System (GDS) Travelport.
Get notified of all airline-initiated changes
When any of the 300+ airlines we’re connected with change or cancel a flight, we make this information available immediately through our Flights API and Dashboard. We also send you an email with the flight change and a link to manage the booking in our Dashboard. You can access all pending and completed AICs through our Flights API or Dashboard to make sure no changes are missed.
Customise your customers’ experience
When you use Managed Content, we give you control over your customers’ experience by letting you know about all changes and leaving it up to you to decide which you want to communicate. For example, you might not want to let a customer know about a five or ten-minute change to scheduled flight departure time as this will cause little to no disruption to their journey. But you probably want to let customers know about a 30+ minute change as it might impact flight connections or when customers need to arrive at their airport.
You can also choose how to let your customers know about airline-initiated changes. You can either pass notifications directly on to customers by email or in-app notifications, then give them the choice to choose their change option in your booking tool. This solution works well for online travel agents (OTAs) servicing leisure travellers.
Alternatively, you might decide to only show airline-initiated changes in your travel operations tool without notifying customers straight away. Your team can research new flight options and contact the customer through their preferred channel – email, phone, or live chat – to discuss their options. This solution works well for travel management companies (TMCs) that deal with more complex travel itineraries and have a deeper understanding of customer needs.
Accept AICs immediately for 20+ airlines
Today, you can accept changes immediately from more than twenty airlines, automate changes or cancellations with one airline, and get notified of changes from hundreds more. Airlines have different levels of AIC capabilities today and we’ll continue to expand coverage of automated changes as more become available. Check out the Managing airline-initiated changes (AIC) help article for a breakdown of automated and manual changes.
Join Duffel to access Order Management features and improve your customers’ travel experience