Travel companies join forces to offer more choice
Alternative Airlines, the innovative flight booking platform and online travel agent, has announced a partnership with Duffel, a fast-growing startup that provides the ‘pipes’ connecting agencies to real-time flight content from airlines’ reservation systems. The alliance is the latest sign of how digital technology is unifying the previously fragmented world of online travel bookings, and will set a new service standard in an industry that has been dogged by clunky systems and legacy software.
Duffel, a London-based company that raised $30 million from investors in its latest funding round, is a global travel distribution platform that provides a direct connection between airline products and travel sellers. Duffel's API makes it easy for any business to build flight booking capabilities within a day, enabling anyone to search, book and manage flights from one of 20 airline partners – including American Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways and Lufthansa Group.
Using Duffel’s technology, Alternative Airlines will be able to seamlessly plug into multiple airline’s reservation systems to make bookings based on live seat availability and provide exclusive ancillary products and flight offers, all with a single universal Duffel API connection.
Steve Domin, CEO of Duffel, said: “The technology we've built takes away the complexities in flight distribution, enabling travel businesses like Alternative Airlines to focus on serving the modern traveller. Today, our work touches flight distribution infrastructure. Tomorrow, we will work our way to other parts of travel. We will build the complete toolkit for the modern travel business so as to make travel truly effortless.”
Domin added: “In Alternative Airlines, we have found a partner who is equally ambitious and capable in building the future of travel. I am certain with the combined talents of our teams, we will create a positive impact for travellers globally.”
The key ingredient in the partnership is something known as New Distribution Capability (NDC) – a new standard or ‘language’ created by the International Air Transport Association. NDC allows airlines and travel businesses to exchange data more smoothly; this includes enriched ancillary information and deals, such as advance seat selection, in-flight meals and extra luggage. Duffel is working closely with IATA at the forefront of this initiative, which has the potential to do for travel what open banking did for financial services.
Through Duffel, an airline can provide different services as bundles: business travellers, for example, who book an economy ticket through Alternative Airlines will now be able to add services such as priority boarding and lounge access to their booking - services which would usually be associated with a higher-ticket fare. This degree of customisation isn’t easy via traditional booking systems.
Travelers booking flights through Alternative Airlines can currently choose from over 600 global airlines, and then checkout using any of the site’s 170 localised currency options, as well as over 25 payment methods available through top finance providers, including PayPal, PayPal Credit, Klarna and Affirm.
Sam Argyle, Managing Director at Alternative Airlines, said: “Partnering with Duffel is the next step towards empowering our customers. By providing the best fare options and enabling more mix-and-matching capability when it comes to booking an airline’s services, we are able to offer richer content and more choice. Passengers will be able to personalise their bookings and enjoy benefits similar to that which can be expected from booking directly with their favourite airlines - but with the support, expertise, and greater choice of flights and payment options that our platform provides.”
Argyle added: “We share a vision for the future, to make the flight-booking process as seamless and user-friendly as possible. We’re building Alternativeairlines.com as a single-platform solution, allowing customers to book the flights they want, how they want. Duffel provides the tools to help us lead the way in an evolving travel landscape, and we look forward to an exciting long-term relationship.”
This announcement comes as Alternative Airlines continues to enhance the end-to-end experience for all looking to book flights – including the upcoming launch of a business portal dedicated to companies booking flights for employees, to the introduction of a number of ancillary products such as eVisas and airport lounge passes.
To search and book flights through Alternative Airlines, please visit: alternativeairlines.com