Airlines Technology has worked up a proof of concept which could allow airlines to sell assigned seats via a virtual reality (VR) seatmap, all made possible thanks to IATA’s NDC.
The business has IATA NDC Capable Level III certification and is part of the Travel StartUps Incubator portfolio.
Paras Kumar, co-founder, explained that VR seatmap selection “is technically possible because of NDC, as we can pull out the seatmap of any airline (along with the aircraft model details) in an NDC standardized way.”
Accessing the NDC seat availability and cabin layout APIs are the source for the data, and it has worked with London-based designers Studio Zero to build the VR and visual component.
Kumar is confident that the idea has legs for both desktop and mobile airlines bookings. For mobile, the idea could develop to the point where bookers could use a VR headset to walk around the cabin and select seats accordingly.
Here’s a YouTube video of the proof of concept as imagined for desktop:
Whether or not this proof of concept ends up in production is a moot point – it is after all a proof of concept. But is a sign of some of the unusual concepts and applications that the startup community is developing around NDC.
It also worth noting that when IATA first mentioned NDC in 2012, virtual reality was in its infancy, very much on the periphery of tech in general and travel in particular. When IATA boss Tony Tyler said at the time that NDC would herald “the next revolution in airline retailing” ideas like this were probably not on his radar.