Comprehending the GDS

» Posted by on Dec 26, 2014 in Global Distribution Systems | 0 comments

I never knew how complicated the GDS was – or what booking tickets entailed.  On the surface, booking a plane ticket on your typical website seems so easy.  Only after reading about the many layers and authorizations/regulations involved in the process did I appreciate all the work that can go into booking a plane ticket.

The Global Distribution System (GDS) evolved from the Computer Reservation System (CRS), used as far back as the 1950’s.  Unlike the airline-owned CRS, the GDS is operated by non-airline companies, and the airlines are not required to use the GDS.  Perhaps the reason that some travel services or airlines choose not to participate in the GDS is because the GDS charges fees for its usage.

 Currently there are three major GDS vendors: Sabre, Amadeus, and Travelport (Worldspan).  In my experience, I have learned that Southwest Airlines and Amtrak reservations come under the Sabre GDS, while other airlines fall under the Worldspan GDS.  So I don’t understand the part of the training manual that states that “only one GDS system is used for any one client”.  Maybe I’m misunderstanding this statement, but in my experience with my agency’s TMC, the Southwest and Amtrak reservations have fallen under the Sabre GDS, and the hotel, car, and other airline reservations have come under the Worldspan GDS.  I have seen reservations which list two separate PNR’s for the same trip: one for Sabre and another one for Worldspan.

 One thing that I wonder, and perhaps an expert on this forum could answer, is: Will an airline or hotel company be billed when people just search for travel on a GDS-run website due to “GDS hits” being generated?

By K.J. Martin

*NB: The above post is my own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my agency or of the Federal Government.*

Submit a Comment