Passenger service system/distribution technology provider WorldTicket (W2) has combined its W2 global distribution system (GDS) aggregation product with railway operator Deutsche Bahn’s Rail&Fly intermodal interline and codeshare offering.

The codeshare also includes seat reservation options, making the travel experience more seamless and convenient for passengers connecting between air and rail services.

As a result, passengers will be able to seamlessly book rail and air travel on the same itinerary, adding Deutsche Bahn rail tickets to air itineraries with over 50 global full-service carriers, such as Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, LATAM, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines, and others.

The solution has been well received by customers, as it provides improvements as well as benefits. For example, prior to the WorldTicket system, airlines had to process incoming invoices from Deutsche Bahn, which could prove a burdensome process. They are now integrated via WorldTicket, making higher processing volumes possible.

Expanding airlines’ reach using rail

Deutsche Bahn’s Rail&Fly is a flexible train ticket for travelling to and from the airport. Passengers can combine international flight tickets with a train ride to or from the airport, through multimodal itineraries that can be found with participating airlines or travel agencies such as Expedia, Opodo, and Etraveli, and travel aggregators such as Skyscanner

A new check-in page, offering early check-ins for passengers has also been introduced. Once the check-in is complete, the barcode can be downloaded to a smart phone and shown to the conductor on the train.

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This gives passengers flexibility and the opportunity to submit more information about when their journey will begin, if booked with the code.

Peer Winter, VP of commercial business development at WorldTicket, says: “The airlines enhance their physical network using the Deutsche Bahn feeder. E.g., flying into Germany’s biggest hub, Frankfurt, they can expand their network to other major German cities like Munich, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Berlin, and more.

“Rail&Fly is beneficial for travel agents as they use the code ‘QYG’ (anywhere in Germany), which books feeder services from any German railway station to their point of departure.” Rail&Fly encourages travel from all German train stations to all major airports in Germany, and other European airports  – Basel, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Zurich. Passengers book feeder services from any German railway station to the respective airport.

Reducing domestic flight emissions

The high-speed rail services that are scheduled by the interline and codeshare products are an environmentally friendly alternative for routes usually covered by domestic feeder flights, such as Stuttgart to Frankfurt Airport and Dusseldorf to Frankfurt Airport.

Winter says: “Many of our WorldTicket products are focused on helping airlines expand their global reach without adding complexity and risk.

“Local carriers and airlines can outsource GDS distribution partially or entirely to WorldTicket. Local carriers can reinvest what they save in terms of distribution costs into marketing efforts. We do also work with carriers who make use of our global ticketing solution to outsource core processes in remote markets.”

It is possible for travel agents to use GDS’ such as Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport to offer multimodal itineraries that are ‘W2 Flight numbers’ operated by Deutsche Bahn.

Winter adds: “Due to climate change, the policy of the German government subsidising the rail sector, and high aviation taxes being imposed, flying domestic routes within Germany becomes more challenging for airlines.

“Our intermodal option makes a lot of sense as airlines can remain competitive and contribute to an environmentally friendly strategy, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of their passengers.”