What's the best flight fares API for getting started quickly and cheaply?
I’m just getting started building a prototype for a OTA startup and I want to incorporate real-time flight fare data. I’ve read the overview article on travel APIs and have gotten started using the Amadeus self-service API. However the Amadeus API seems limited in how the flight offers are bundled—it appears that flight offers are a bundle of departing a returning flights instead of allowing the user to select which flights they want for each segment.
I’ve briefly looked at the other GDSs to what their APIs offer but it appears that neither of them offer self-service. Does anyone have experience getting access to their APIs for prototyping purposes? Additionally, their APIs seem to be a bit dated in terms of the tech (SOAP vs REST, XML vs JSON).
I’ve also considered “downstream” flight fare APIs like Skyscanner. I applied for a Skyscanner account but have not received any response after a week. I’m curious whether they have revenue requirements that need to be met in order to get access. Are their other non-GDSs APIs worth considering?
Another thought was to look at ATPCO for flight fare data. I’m not exactly sure where ATPCO fits into this picture in terms of the data they have.
Any advice or direction is welcome. I’m just getting started in the flight API space. I have significant tech experience but the travel tech space is completely new to me. Also, it might be worth mentioning that I’m US-based and would be looking to start with domestic flight data to begin.
We can tell you’ve done quite a research on this topic. And we feel you.
The functionality of Amadeus’ self-service API has a number of limitations. But the reality is that it’s the only self-service API available among the global distribution systems. Other GDS solutions are truly legacy cumbersome systems. And that’s one of the key hindrances to smooth airline distribution.
As for Skyscanner, you’re right. On a case by case basis they accept only those businesses capable of generating traffic and attracting users. So if you’re only setting your foot in the travel industry, chances are you might not hear from them soon, if at all. In addition, Skyscanner API won’t allow for facilitating bookings as it’s a metasearch.
Now, regarding ATPCO, the main fares provider. In terms of the traditional flight distribution, ATPCO is an intermediary that transmits tariffs from an airline to a GDS.
ATPCO’s JSON Routehappy API has direct connections with GDSs and some airlines. Akin to Skyscanner, they won’t enable booking capabilities. The API access involves monthly payments starting from $2,500, which may not fit into the budget.
If your distribution market isn’t too big, you may try connecting to each airline directly avoiding GDS. If you decide to follow this path, you’ll need to adopt the New Distribution Capability XML standard.
As you can see, many scenarios are possible in your case. As we have extensive experience in building OTAs, we surely can give you good advice, to say the least. But for this purpose, we’ll need to dive deeper into your situation. So why don’t we keep our communication in DMs? Contact our sales team and they’ll sync you with our best experts.
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