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APIs are Taking Off in Travel and Transportation

By Alan Glickenhouse posted Thu December 04, 2014 06:34 PM

With the end of the year approaching many of us will be visiting friends and relatives, sending and receiving gifts and enjoying vacation. The sounds you hear are not just sleigh bells, but the cash registers of companies in the Travel and Transportation (T&T) industry during one of their busiest times of the year. So, what better time to take a look at how APIs can and are being used by companies involved in travel and transportation?


Once again I’ll use the structure I introduced a few weeks ago (here).   T&T industry covers the obvious area: airlines/airports, hospitality, rental cars, travel agencies, but also includes trucking, logistics, railroads and other companies as well.  So, this is not intended to be comprehensive, just some possibilities to whet the appetite.


Mobile App Development – Every airline, hotel chain, railroad, and rental car company has a mobile app and logistics and trucking businesses do as well.  flight_and_trip_itinerary_apps

  • Basic APIs provide definitions of the services offered by their business.  For example, airline schedules and pricing, hotel locations and room descriptions/pricing, etc. Frequent flyer/hotel program terms and conditions, qualification levels etc. are data that can be accessed via APIs that are the same for all consumers. Flight status information is another example.

  • Custom APIs that deal with your situation require additional security.  Examples include making/canceling a reservation, shipping status, a user’s specific frequent flyer account information

  • Mobile advantages – APIs that take advantage of the mobile phone might include searches for hotels within a certain distance of the user using the GPS capability. In trucking or logistics, planning routes or adjusting to traffic or detours can be assisted via phone GPS coordinates and route navigation APIs.


What APIs are available today in T&T? Here are just a few samples of public APIs:

  • TripAdvisor content - featuring reviews and advice on hotels, resorts, flights, vacation rentals, vacation packages, travel guides, and more. TripAdvisor's Content API allows access to business information on travel destinations.

  • Concur - provides online tools for business organizations to manage travel and expense reporting and reimbursement. Integrated travel booking functions combine with expense reporting within a single platform.

  • Fleet Manager Open API - vehicle location, performance, and engine diagnostic data is now available to third-party systems via an API. The data consists of a mix of landmark, performance, and alert data. The alerts are generated by vehicle locations (landmarks), by operating conditions (speed, idle time, rapid acceleration, and many others), vehicle maintenance schedules, and unauthorized use.

  • SITA iTravel API - provides developer access to air travel shopping, booking, check-in, loyalty, baggage tracking, and flight and airline information. The API also accesses other value-added information such as intelligence on customer behavior and value.

  • Yahoo Traffic API - enables you to get traffic alert information from a given location. Use the Traffic REST API to customize your request with many parameters including indicating locations based on city state, zip code, or a combination of any of these things, latitude-longitude, whether to include a map image, or a search radius in miles.

Besides creating Mobile Apps, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for T&T.


best-dealsPublic APIs – Comparison apps are extremely common in T&T. Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia (to name a few) access information from the T&T providers to allow shoppers to choose their best travel options. To obtain the available choices these Apps either crawl the provider web pages or use a public (or partner) API to access the information. WestJet selected IBM API Management to provide an API so that these Apps would not generate unnecessary traffic on their web site (see Huffington Post article).



Partnering – Expanding the market and providing better customer experiences can be accomplished through partnering APIs. Frequent flyer/hotel programs often partnerff with credit card companies, restaurants and retailers to earn or use accumulated points. Shipping logistics can be integrated with a retail purchase and status accessed via API.


Airlines can partner with airports and service providers for situations such as flight delays or cancelations. Apps can recognize that a flight is delayed and communicate this to downstream parts of the itinerary (e.g. car service).


PlaneTrainAutoDevices – As much of the T&T industry is dealing with devices (auto, airplane, truck, train, etc.) these devices can provide data as to usage, location and unexpected circumstances (e.g. flat tire, traffic or simply location). With this information analytics can suggest actions for rerouting or calling for assistance via APIs.


Data Assets – T&T companies can build profiles on their customers in aggregate and at the specific customer level. This data can be accessed to make improvements by their company, upsell/cross-sell other offerings that similar customers have enjoyed, or the data can be sold/accessed by third parties. Of course, all of this through APIs.


Enjoy your holidays! I know you’ll be thinking of all the API use cases involved as you open your presents (okay, maybe not).


Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.  You can also read my earlier blogs.






Fri December 06, 2019 06:25 AM

SO insightful, must read

Sat December 27, 2014 02:10 AM

Good article. I will be facing many of these issues as well..