How should you do flight booking API integration to your travel website?

It’s no secret that people LOVE to travel. But the past few years were a bit repressive of that desire, given the stringent travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Now, it’s time again for people to soar their wings to fly (pun intended) and explore the world. And guess what? As the travel industry bounces back, experts predict revenue growth of $1463.98 billion by 2027 with a 10.58% CAGR! 

Additionally, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the airline business will turn a $4.7 billion net profit globally on earnings of $779 billion with a 0.6% net margin. So if you want in on those numbers, we don’t blame you! 

If you’re on this page, you’ve already considered creating a travel website. And you want to integrate flight booking services too! For that, you’ll need Application Programming Interfaces (API) integration. Through these APIs, customers on your website may easily search for flights, compare prices, and make reservations in real time. 

When it comes to flight booking services on your website, you have your pick between two distinct flight booking API providers:

  • The first consists of the industry’s primary aggregators, global distribution systems (GDSs). They work in tandem with different airline companies, to serve as an aggregator and display the services provided by each. 
  • The second category includes online travel agencies (OTA) or metasearch engines, a flight booking API provider that facilitates the entry of new, smaller competitors through affiliate networks.

For those without extensive experience in API integration, integrating any of the two flight booking API providers may be daunting. It’s a task better left to the experts. But we’re here to help you decide which one of the two will be the right option for your website.

Let’s start by talking about GDS or global distribution systems, the primary API provider through which online travel agents (OTA) can get access to all the flight information and enable booking on their website.

Global Distribution Systems and 3 Main GDS Players

Infographic: Change the content of what is GDS to “A GDS is a computerized network system owned or controlled by an organization that facilitates business between service providers in the travel industry, most often airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, and travel agents.”

Global Distribution Systems and 3 Main GDS Players

When it comes to booking flights and other travel-related services, such as hotel booking, car rentals, etc,  global distribution systems (GDSs) and other specialist data suppliers are indispensable. Online travel agents rely heavily on them as a data source and booking hub. 

GDS directly pools flight information, such as seat availability, schedules, fares, etc. from computer reservation systems (CRS) of the operating airlines, enabling travel agencies to distribute airline tickets. This saves time and effort for OTA by avoiding the need to establish separate connections with countless airlines. 

Airline GDS network

Advantages of Integrating GDSs and Specialist Data Suppliers 

  • You may search through thousands of available flights offered by hundreds of different airlines.
  • Data is synchronized in real-time, so users always have access to the most recent flight details.
  • Features like seat selection, luggage tracking, and loyalty programs are all available as optional add-ons.
  • Get help with elaborate trip planning, including multi-city reservations and complicated itineraries.

Despite these wonderful advantages, the complexity and expense involved in the integration of GDS API require careful consideration. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Integration of a GDS can be difficult, necessitating both technical know-how and adherence to industry regulations like the certification granted by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).
  • Integrating GDS comes at a considerable investment, in addition to booking commissions and transaction fees to use a GDS. Consider the financial ramifications by looking at the fees of API integration and commission rates.
  • The vast majority of airlines are accessible through GDSs, yet it is important to remember that certain smaller or more budget-friendly carriers may not be. Determine if the GDS network’s airline coverage and availability satisfy the needs of your intended audience and market.
  • You might need to sign contracts and agreements with the GDS providers to integrate the API. Before using the GDS or any of its data, make sure you read and completely comprehend the terms and conditions.

Despite the challenges and complexities we mentioned above, travel corporations targeting an extensive audience to book flights from their own website need real-time, complete flight data from numerous airlines. If you’re such a platform owner, you can potentially benefit from GDS integration through one or more flight booking API providers. By partnering with GDS, you may give your customers easier access to more flights and related services.

Let us give you an overview of three major global distribution system (GDS) providers that dominate the industry: 

Compare images of amodeus , sabre and travelport

Features of Amadeus flight booking API:  

  • Real-time availability
  • Schedules
  • Pricing
  • Booking 
  • Compare flights
  • Seat Maps
  • Multi-city
  • booking
  • Complex itinerary support
  • AI services of price analysis/prediction of delays
  • Baggage info and other ancillary services

Features of Sabre flight booking API: 

  • Real-time availability
  • Schedules
  • Pricing 
  • Booking
  • Rules and regulations
  • Seat Maps
  • Multicity booking
  • Baggage info
  • Loyalty Programs
  • Flexible date search
  • Analytics

Features of Travel Port flight booking API:

  • Flights fares
  • Schedules
  • Seat selection
  • Aircontent and merchandising
  • Booking
  • Seat maps
  • Connecting routes
  • Ancillary services booking

Which GDS Would You Choose and Why

It is vital to compare various flight booking API providers based criteria on:

  • the number of airlines they serve, 
  • the quality of their real-time data synchronization, 
  • the depth of their search functionality, 
  • the breadth of their extra services, 
  • and the depth of their documentation and developer support.

Determine which GDS service is the best fit for your goals and budget based on factors like your intended market and the kinds of flights you want to provide.

Apart from GDS and specialized data providers, you can also focus on just distributing airline information on your website and booking through a third party. This can be done through partnerships/affiliations with OTA and metasearch engines and can be a much more budget-friendly option for new travel websites, startups, and small businesses. Let’s understand it a bit in detail below.

OTAs and Metasearch Engines With Affiliate Programs

OTAs and Metasearch Engines With Affiliate ProgramsMetasearch engines and OTAs’ APIs often give aggregated flight information to display on your website, such as schedules and pricing. If you decide to utilise APIs of OTA or metasearch engines as a partner through the affiliate program, it could be cost-effective as they usually charge zero to negligible fees initially. 

By being a partner, you let your customers on the best flight deals available on the partner’s network. Whenever they click on the link to book, they’re routed to the partnered website. Cookies keep track of every time a customer clicks on one of these links to complete a flight booking, potentially earning you a certain percentage of commissions.

Become An Affiliate Partner for Exclusive Flight Deals!

There are a number of positives to forming partnerships with OTAs and metasearch engines, as listed below:

  • It connects to a global database of flights and inventories, allowing tour operators to provide their clients with more choices. 
  • The visibility and possibility for bookings are both boosted by the fact that these platforms often spend on marketing along with having significant existing user bases. 
  • It is one of the simplest and most cost-efficient ways to start out in the tourism industry.

The commission structures of different OTAs and metasearch engines might vary. They are often determined by a flat charge or a share of the total booking value. In accordance with the affiliate program’s policies, payments may be issued on a periodic basis. Here’s a comparison of three popular affiliate programs offered by OTAs and metasearch engines that offer APIs in affiliate partnerships:

Combine images of skyscanner , kiwi and kayak

Features of Skyscanner API:

  • Browsing Prices API
    • Cached data on most searched queries and time-frames
    • Compare flights
    • Best for flexible searches
    • No real-time prices
    • May lack data on less popular queries
  • Live Prices API 
    • Real-time data retrieving
    • Exact date and location required
  • Exclusive Partnership management platform for tracking, reporting, and invoicing

Features of Kiwi API:

  • Cheap flight search:
    • location,
    • dates,
    • airport codes,
    • and other parameters.
  • Baggage details
  • Distance between locations
  • Layover lengths
  • multicity flights
  • Fare classes

Features of Kayak API:

  • Price alerts,
  • Routes, 
  • Flexible date search, 
  • Multi-city bookings information

By now you should be clear of two types of flight booking API provider options. But before you decide which one to integrate on your website, we have a few words of advice on best practices. 

Best practices for integrating flight booking APIs

With several years of experience in integrating travel APIs for up-and-coming OTA platforms, we’re aware of some common complexities and challenges website owners and developers face. 

For the same reason, careful preparation and execution are necessary to successfully integrate airline booking APIs into your travel website, regardless of the flight booking API provider you choose. 

Streamline your users’ experience of booking flights by adhering to these Anglara’s expert-recommended practices for integrating APIs:

a. Evaluate API Documentation:

No matter what kind of flight booking API provider you choose, you’ll have to sign a contract and agree to their terms and conditions. Make sure to read the API provider’s documentation carefully. Pay attention to: 

  • how the contract starts, 
  • when will it end, 
  • what are the terms of termination,
  • what kind of data they seek from your website, 
  • and other rules and constraints.

b. Choose Reliable API Providers:

Choose a flight booking API provider that has a solid reputation in the market. We’ve given some of the most popular and top-performing leaders of the GDS network and OTA/Metasearch engines. Regardless of who you go for, ensure:

  • data correctness, 
  • dependability, 
  • uptime, 
  • attractive offers,
  • and support for seamless service. 

Look for companies that have maximum full flight information, such as schedules, prices, availability, and the option to make reservations.

c. Implement Error Handling:

On rare occasions, API integrations may have glitches or delays. Implementing reliable error-handling methods to process and report problems to users is essential. To keep the user experience consistent regardless of problem severity, it may be useful to incorporate:

  • suitable error messages, 
  • recording methods, 
  • and fallback techniques. 

When you put your trust in dependable website developer services like Anglara, you can rest easy knowing they’ll take care of all such technicalities for a smooth user experience.

d. Optimize Data Retrieval:

Get flight information efficiently and save it in a cache to reduce API calls and speed things up. To guarantee accuracy and real-time availability, our experts often set up procedures to frequently refresh the cached data and:

  •  improve your app’s responsiveness, 
  • save expenses, 
  • and minimize sending unnecessary API queries.

e. Prioritize Security:

At Anglara, security is the number one priority. We strongly recommend protecting your API integration by adhering to standard procedures. Protect the information in transit by using encrypted protocols (like HTTPS). Choose an expert to integrate your flight booking API who’s fluent with data protection laws and regulations if the sensitive user information is being handled.

f. Test Thoroughly:

Make sure the API integration works as you expect it to before releasing your integrated solution. Complete testing is necessary to guarantee:

  •  correct data extraction, 
  • appropriate reactions to errors, 
  • and a pleasant overall user experience. 

At Anglara, businesses are assigned a dedicated QA expert to ensure that your platform is tested well and every requirement is checked off. We also provide your businesses with a detailed test case reports, so you’re assured knowing the solution works properly.

g. Monitor Performance:

Keep an eye on how well your API is working at regular intervals. Hire a team that can monitor things like

  • system responsiveness, 
  • error rates, 
  • and performance. 

We usually put in place monitoring tools and notification systems so that any performance concerns may be addressed immediately. Always double-check the API provider’s service-level agreements (SLA) for compliance and dependability.

When you hire a competent team to integrate Flight API into your website, they automatically follow the best practices we’ve outlined above. With these things, you can streamline your flight booking API integration, enhance the user experience, and minimize disruptions. Now let’s get to answering your final question, keep reading!

What approach is best for you?

Honestly, there is no silver bullet when it comes to choosing between online travel agencies (OTA) and global distribution systems (GDS). The decision must take into account your individual requirements, preferences, and budget. Let’s look at a quick comparison between GDS API integration and Metasearch engine/OTA API integration:

GDS API Metasearch engine/OTA API
Integration Capabilities Airline ticket booking on your website. Airline information displayed

on your website, route to partner’s website for booking.

Best for
  • extensive flight options,
  • intricate itineraries,
  • and additional services, like group booking management and itinerary management.
  • price comparison,
  • flight availability,
  • and tentative schedule
Cost Costlier as you pay the network for each request in addition to any costs agreed upon in a contract Usually cheaper as the affiliate program often allows a free set of APIs along with a potential to earn commissions
Suitable For Bigger and more established corporations with larger budgets Startups and small to medium-sized businesses

We understand that deciding which type of API integration is the right choice for you can be difficult. Take account of what you need, and the kinds of travellers you cater to, and weigh the alternatives. Examine and contrast the shortlisted GDSs or OTAs in terms of

  • coverage, 
  • price patterns, 
  • commission arrangements, 
  • and resources offered.

Experts at Anglara will be more than happy to help you evaluate your requirements and budget to match you with the right flight booking API provider. Let’s discuss your project and see how we can help you to maximize your business with flight booking API integration for your travel website over a 30-minute free consultation call. Set up an appointment today by filling up this form and we’ll reach out to you immediately.