United Airlines 27.07.2023

Evolving our distribution strategy

Over the past year, we have often been asked about our distribution strategy - specifically, our approach to legacy EDIFACT used by GDS providers and new distribution technology (NDC) - and how it impacts our agency channels and our direct channel via united.com and our United mobile app.

This communication shares our current point of view on the rapidly evolving distribution landscape. Our strategy is the result of careful discussion among a wide range of United stakeholders, along with thoughtful input from our customers and partners alike. This strategy will guide our continued investments in innovation and our commercial decisions moving forward; it’s also subject to continuous evolution.

At a summary level, the United distribution strategy has three primary objectives:

  • Support an omni-channel approach to distribution, making as much content available in each channel as possible. That availability is subject to that channel’s technology and economic capability. Our intent is to support all our customers’ buying channel(s) of choice.
  • Ongoing strong collaboration with all parts of the travel value chain (GDS providers, aggregators, agencies, and others) to align our distribution costs with the value that United and our customers receive from that channel. Our goal is to align cost with value, while reducing economic differences between channels.
  • Continued investment in modernizing buying options including expanding NDC and direct channels' capabilities to provide innovative solutions to our customers. This investment is future critical in that there are few avenues left to expand the capabilities of EDIFACT.

As always, you can count on United to communicate transparently and proactively. To that point, in the coming months we will introduce a series of changes and initiatives designed to realize our objectives, the first of which we are announcing today.

Basic Economy fares (domestic U.S. and short-haul Latin America) will be removed from sale in GDS EDIFACT channels effective September 5, 2023. From that date forward, these fares will only be offered via united.com, the United mobile app and NDC enabled channels. Basic Economy fares are designed to work in concert with ancillary sales. EDIFACT is not able to sell ancillaries, therefore it is not an appropriate channel with which to offer our Basic Economy content.

To keep the lines of communication open and answer questions, we will publish a schedule of informational webinars in the coming weeks. Additionally, we have launched a new website (linked below) to learn more about our NDC offering and how it works for both corporate and travel agency customers.