Frequently asked questions about ARC’s Direct Connect Program

Frequently Asked Questions About ARC Direct Connect

General Questions

1. What is ARC Direct Connect Program, also known as New Distribution Capability (NDC)?
Direct Connect allows airlines to use ARC’s established settlement product to report and settle Direct Connect transactions, including those using New Distribution Capability. Travel agencies benefit from the continued use of ARC’s integrated platform while gaining access to richer, more customized airline content.

2. What are the benefits of Direct Connect?
Both agencies and airlines benefit from using ARC’s established settlement product and infrastructure to report and settle Direct Connect transactions and access those transactions via ARC’s Document Retrieval Service (DRS) tool.

Airlines can set specific business rules, with the flexibility of transmitting Direct Connect data in either the IATA (RET) or ARC (SPRF) and choosing their form of payment (cash and/or credit/debit). ARC works directly with IATA for those airlines already sending a global RET file for direct connect transactions.

Agencies benefit from having Direct Connect and GDS transactions reported in ARC’s sales reporting tool, IAR, and output in the ARC agency back-office file (BOS).

Agency-related questions

3. How can I get started with ARC Direct Connect (NDC)?
The best place for a travel agency to get started is to contact the airline. Each airline has a unique approach to their Direct Connect strategy and that strategy will drive how each airline reports and settles Direct Connect transactions with ARC.

Airline-related questions

4. How can I get started with ARC Direct Connect Program (NDC)?
Once your airline has decided to implement Direct Connect in the U.S. — either directly with an agency or through an aggregator or GDS — you should contact ARC. We can help you understand how our Direct Connect program fits into your distribution strategy. You can contact your Customer Success Manager or the Carrier Help Desk or email the NDC team at ndc@arccorp.com. You can also visit our Direct Connect page.

5. Do I have to use the NDC schema to participate in Direct Connect?
No. The airline can use their proprietary schema or the NDC schema.

6. Is there a cost to participate in Direct Connect?
Yes. To participate in Direct Connect, airlines pay a fee that covers the program set-up, testing and onboarding. Please contact your ARC Customer Success Manager or the Carrier Help Desk or email the NDC team at ndc@arccorp.com for additional details.

7. How can the onboarding fee be paid?
The airline can pay by wire or check, or ARC can deduct the fee from the airline’s weekly disbursement.

8. Do I need an IATA NDC certification to use Direct Connect?
No, ARC does not require that the airline have an IATA NDC certification to participate in Direct Connect.

9. What is the timeframe for onboarding and testing?
The timeframe depends on several factors, including airline readiness, transmission method, the length of time to complete end-to-end testing and the airline placement in the Direct Connect queue. ARC suggests planning for a minimum of 6-9 months once onboarding and testing begins.

10. How can I distinguish Direct Connect (NDC) transactions from GDS transactions?
NDC transactions will be transmitted to the airline in the existing ARC CAT file. The airline can identify NDC transactions by two fields on the CAT, the form code and/or the system identifier (known as the SASP on the CAT). Most airlines use their own form codes (ticket numbers) for direct connect transactions, which differ from ARC neutral form codes used in the GDS environment. Additionally, airlines use a unique SASP code which is usually the three-digit airline code plus a check digit. Between those two fields, the airline can distinguish direct connect transactions from GDS-issued transactions.

11. Can airlines implement Direct Connect (NDC) differently?
Airlines have the flexibility of transmitting Direct Connect data in either the IATA (RET) or ARC (SPRF) formats, setting business rules and choosing cash and credit/debit forms of payment. ARC works directly with IATA for those airlines already sending a global RET file for direct connect transactions. The airline can also choose to initiate credit billing for direct connect transactions with a credit/debit card form of payment or request that ARC initiate credit billing on their behalf.

12. What input file formats does ARC support?
ARC currently supports two input file formats: IATA (RET) and ARC (SPRF). There are differences between ARC and IATA processing, so not all RET capabilities are supported.

13. Can I issue a debit memo for transactions issued in Direct Connect (NDC)?
One of the benefits of the airline pricing and issuing the ticket using a direct connection is the elimination of debit memos since the airline has established the pricing and performed their own risk management tools. Ultimately, the agreement between the airline and the agency will drive the airline’s decision to issue debit memos for Direct Connect transactions.

14. Does ARC initiate credit billing for Direct Connect (NDC) transactions?
Airlines can initiate credit billing for Direct Connect transactions with a credit/debit card form of payment or request that ARC initiate credit billing on their behalf.

15. Can I implement the Direct Connect program (NDC) in phases?
Yes, airlines can implement NDC in phases. However, ARC encourages airlines to test as many transaction types as possible during the initial testing and onboarding phase to minimize costs, as the airline will incur a fee for multiple testing phases.

16. If an airline is using IATA’s IFG product, why do they need to settle through ARC?
IATA’s IFG product provides airlines with non-cash billing alternatives for non-U.S. and U.S. point of sale transactions; ARC provides cash form of payment settlement between airlines and ARC-accredited travel agencies. Reporting Direct Connect transactions through ARC allows ARC-accredited agencies to consolidate Direct Connect and GDS transactions into a single sales report and on ARC’s back-office file. Airlines also benefit from the application of ARC’s risk management and fraud tools and centralized reporting on the airline reporting file (CAT).

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