Airline Ticket Sales: From Distribution to Retailing with New Distribution Capability (NDC)



Organizations interested in volume licensing or LMS integration should contact Kellogg Case Publishing 


Product Description

Ever since the 1960s, airlines had been leaders in using computer technology to manage massive amounts of data and present it to travelers and travel agents in the form of real-time offers consisting of a seat, a routing, and a price.
By 2012, airlines were focused on segmenting and targeting consumers to gain strategic advantage and generate incremental revenue. Discount airlines offered low prices with few ancillary benefits; if travelers wanted extra services they needed to pay extra for them. Legacy airlines, on the other hand, offered higher fares that bundled certain rights and ancillaries.
Consumers came to expect to book airlines online with the same level of convenience and product information they experienced on sites such as However, the technology that connected airlines to travel agencies was not capable of fully meeting the demand-side and supply-side need for information on and the sale of rights and ancillaries.
An airline industry group proposed a solution in the form of a new standard for data management called new distribution capability, or NDC. Channel partners needed to decide if the NDC standard had the potential to resolve the misalignments that had hampered the channel for years.



Learning Objectives

After analyzing the case, students will be able to:

• Identify and describe demand-side and supply-side channel benefit misalignments

• Understand how channel benefit misalignments can be resolved

• Clarify the difference between channel design and implementation

Appropriate Uses

The case is intended for use in MBA and executive courses. The case would be relevant to any courses or modules that cover channel management and strategy

Case Format

The case is presented in ten video episodes organized into four sessions, plus an introduction and a conclusion. The video segments require 62 minutes for viewing. Reading and viewing embedded transmedia elements requires additional time.

INTRODUCTION (4 minutes)

Episode 1: Reservations and Ticketing (4 minutes)
Episode 2: Computerization and New Technologies (5 minutes)

Episode 1: Change in Commissions and GDS Deregulation (3 minutes)
Episode 2: Airline Differentiation and Consumer Frustration (5 minutes)
Episode 3: Airline Frustration (8 minutes)

Episode 1: The NDC Concept (6 minutes)
Episode 2: NDC Description (6 minutes)

Episode 1: Travel Agency Reaction (6 minutes)
Episode 2: GDS Reaction (9 minutes)
Episode 3: Airline Reaction (4 minutes)


Instructor Access and Materials

To register for free preview access, contact Kellogg Case Publishing
After registering, instructors will be able to download an Instructor’s Guide.

Case Author

Anne Coughlan holds the Polk Brothers Chair in Retailing and is a Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management. She joined the faculty in 1985. Dr. Coughlan’s main research interests are distribution channels, sales force management and compensation, and pricing. Current research projects include optimal management of multi-level marketing distribution channels; sales force diversification and optimal group incentive payments; drivers and management of sales force turnover; measuring compliance, monitoring, and enforcement of MAP policies; and wardrobing and optimal open-box retail sales. Her work on “Direct Selling Distributors: Why Do They Stay or Leave?” won the best doctoral-student paper award at the 2017 Global Sales Science Institute conference; it is joint research with Prof. Manfred Krafft of University of Muenster and Julian Allendorf, a Ph.D. student at University of Muenster.

Dr. Coughlan is co-author of the book A Field Guide to Channel Strategy: Building Routes to Market (with Sandy Jap) and was the lead author of Marketing Channels (a Prentice-Hall textbook) through its seventh edition. She serves on the Senior Advisory Board of the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, and is Editor in Chief of the SSRN Marketing Research Network and of its Quantitative Marketing e-Journal and the Marketing Science e-Journal. She is a Research Fellow of the Direct Selling Educational Foundation and an Institute of Marketing Research Fellow of the University of Muenster, Germany. She has served as an Associate Editor and editorial board member of the journal Marketing Science, and on the editorial boards of Journal of Marketing and Journal of Retailing.

For her excellence in teaching, Dr. Coughlan was the recipient of the school’s Executive Master’s Program Teacher of the Year Award for the best elective course in 1996 and again in 2003, as well as receiving the Sidney J. Levy Teaching Award in 2000-01. She teaches classes on distribution channel strategies at the MBA and executive MBA levels, and on quantitative models in marketing at the doctoral level.

Coughlan received her Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford University. Prior to her appointment at Kellogg, she was a professor at the business school of the University of Rochester; she was a Visiting Professor of Marketing at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France in 1997-98

Customer Support

Customer support for individual users is provided by email. Responses will be delivered within 24 to 48 hours. When a person subscribes to the case they get email confirmation of their purchase, the link to their “My Account” page on the Narrasys site, confirmation of their user name and password and information on accessing support, and mobile apps.

Institutional licensees’ LMS support desks are given access to the Narrasys support portal for submitting support tickets. Help Desk support will be available Monday through Friday (except for U.S. federal holidays) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. MST to 5:00 p.m. MST for identifying, diagnosing, and resolving problems, such as error messages, bug fixes, and installations.

Individual access vs. Institutional Licensing

Option #1: Individual subscriptions

Purchase and access

• Instructors assign the case to students. They can put a link in their LMS course to purchase access, but the case cannot be integrated within the LMS.

• After purchasing the case with a credit card, students receive several confirmation emails with Narrasys “My Account” credentials, a link to the case and access for one year.

• Students can access the case through browsers on laptops and desktops and through Moodle mobile apps on their Apple IOS, Android or Windows mobile devices.

Benefits and limitations

• Instructors and universities can adopt the case without any IT involvement or work.

• The case and its price do not need to be incorporated into a course pack since students pay individually.

• Instructors do not have access to Narrative Editor, customization tools for adding content overlays since each student is accessing the case independently.

Option #2: Volume licensing

Purchase and access

• Universities contact Kellogg Case Publishing and request an institutional license.

• Universities select the volume of licenses they wish to purchase for the next twelve months and pay in advance. A minimum of 100 units is required for volume discount purchasing.

• Universities sign a license agreement and their LMS administrator coordinates an LTI key and secret exchange with Narrasys which enables Narrative Editor, customization tools that allow instructors to add their own comments, images, web links, digital documents, polling questions, formative assessments, or other videos to the case real time.

• Instructors incorporate the LTI links to the case into their LMS using the External Tool which launches the video narrative case within an iFrame in the LMS and enables the Narrative Editor “Add” button for the instructors.

Benefits and limitations

• The per-student price is less than individual access. Recouping this cost requires charging students a materials fee. Collection of those fees is the responsibility of the licensing institution.

• The case is integrated in the LMS with a single sign on through LTI links.

• Instructors can access customization and overlay tools to tailor the case to their course.

• Some IT coordination is required to implement the LTI-compliant link.