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Last updated:
29 Mar, 2023

Amadeus API Examples: An Overview of Amadeus GDS

Home Blog Amadeus API Examples: An Overview of Amadeus GDS
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Amadeus is widely known in the world of travel. A Madrid-based giant in travel distribution and technology,  the company develops its activities around the following key areas:

  • Development of their proprietary Global Distribution System (GDS);
  • Provision of state-of-the-art travel automation solutions.

In this particular overview we’d like to concentrate on the functionality offered for establishing connection between the GDS services and the end customers.

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The backbone of Amadeus GDS

Amadeus GDS is one of the market-leading global distribution systems established in 1987 by Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa, and SAS as a response Sabre GDS which appeared in the USA. As of today, Amadeus service spans across 190 countries worldwide.

The range of Amadeus clients in the travel industry is quite diverse. In particular, it includes:

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Online travel agencies (OTAs);

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Travel management companies (TMCs);

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Host travel agencies;

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Air consolidating systems;

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Tour operators

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… and many other types of digital travel sellers.

One of the key tools offered by Amadeus to the these companies is a set of API interfaces helping to search, compare and book from numerous travel inventories. At the moment the list of APIs supplied by Amadeus includes:

  • Flight booking APIs granting access to 400 airlines (130 low-cost carriers included), extra services from over 150 airlines and diverse fare families provided by over 100 airlines globally;
  • Hotel booking APIs connecting travel industry customers to over 150,000 accommodation suppliers;
  • Tour and activity APIs supplying information from over 101 tour operators;
  • Car rent APIs connecting to 75 mobility providers spanning over more than 1800 cities around the world;
  • Rail booking APIs containing content from over 90 railroad service operators;
  • Travel insurance APIs for booking and shopping from 22 insurance companies;

… and many others.

Amadeus was the pioneer of API services when they launched the first service of this kind back in 2000. As for today, all of Amadeus APIs for both web-based and mobile services are divided into two main groups — Self-Service and Enterprise. Let us deal with each group in more detail below:

Amadeus APIs web page

Self-Service APIs

Amadeus Self-Service APIs are based around modern REST-style architecture and utilize JSON data format for data exchange. This API became available a short while ago for non-certified travel agency businesses looking to connect the GDS as part of their own development efforts.

The number of Amadeus REST APIs is constantly growing. At the moment they help companies feed their flight, hotel and tour booking engines; assist in building trip planning / buying apps and many other aspects.

Content and functionality of Enterprise APIs

API flights booking steps

*Source: Amadeus Developers

The Self-Service suite of Amadeus APIs currently combines 37 separate API interfaces divided into a set of categories.

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Air APIs

Air APIs serve to automate flight booking process, apply seat selection mechanisms, browse through cheapest flight options and so on. In addition, there are some advanced features available, including airport auto-complete search options, analytics on local traveller trends, flight prices, etc.

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Hotel APIs

Hotel APIs serve to handle accommodation booking workflows, improve available hotel search results by adding ratings and perform auto-complete search.

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Destination Сontent APIs

Destination content APIs give access to rich amounts of data related to various attractions, activities and tours available for travellers in given locations. The destinations are sinject to evaluation based on four basic parameters: restaurants, shopping, sightseeing and nightlife.

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Trip APIs

Trip APIs are powered by artificial intelligence and can forects the purpose of a particular trip (either for business or leisure). They can also generate recommendations that rely on the data accumulated from previous searches and bookings.

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COVID and Travel Safety APIs

There are also COVID and Travel Safety APIs that import safety information for over 40,000 destinations globally, as well as the current status of COVID-19 restrictions available in 200 countries.

Hints on building integrations using Self-Service APIs

In order to start using Self-Service APIs it is required to get an account and then generate your private token for authorized access.

The infrastructure provided by Amadeus to engineers includes a test environment, a database of code samples and best practices,and SDK kits helping to easier embed API methods. It also makes sense to search around public repositories on GitHub looking for existing libraries serving to implement APIs in various languages: Ruby, Kotlin (Android development), Swift (iOS development), Python, Java, Node.js, .NET and more.

Regardless of the actual programming languages, Amadeus provides options to test and fix integration using limited test data arrays with the help of fixed amounts of API calls granted free of charge on a monthly basis. There can be 200 to 10,000 free requests provided depending on what sort of API this is. Overall, Amadeus infrastructure allows one API call per every 100 milliseconds.

Besides, Amadeus can also provide pre-arranged flight and hotel booking pipelines. Each of them is composed of three separate complementing flows:

  • Search (it returns the list of currently available hotels and flights);
  • Price (it confirms that a particular price and booking conditions are valid at the moment);
  • Book (it initiates a reservation entry within a booking engine).

This way engineers can operate with the same object / request and add up new details to it at every step. The development process becomes much simpler as there’s no need to initiate a new request every time.

Sources to get support

Amadeus provides very detailed and straightforward API documentation guiding developers through the integration process. It is constantly enriched with new entries.

The GDS does not offer much phone or live chat support at the moment. It is possible to reach out to Developer Relations team using the designated contact form. However, this department is likely to reply in quite a while.

It might also be a good idea to look into “Amadeus for Developers” community on services like Discord or StackOverflow.

Commercial conditions

The Self-Service plan provides options to perform app development free of charge. The free API calls quota remains the same after going LIVE. However, when exceeded, Amadeus Self-Service will start charging fees ranging from 0.0008 to 0.025 euro/ $0.00078 to 0.024 per API call depending on the interface used.

This ‘pay-as-you-go’ cooperation model works quite well for businesses with limited numbers of customers. But once your business is mature enough and starts generating good traffic, it might make sense to look for a more advanced service. In particular, it could be worth it to sign up for Enterprise API kit.

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Enterprise APIs

API options of this type are designed for larger established companies , usually certified with ARC or IATA.

It should be mentioned that Enterprise API functionality was originally deployed using older SOAP protocols. Currently they are being gradually replaced with REST-based solutions. But it is to early to talk about a complete transfer to this technology. Therefore, one must brace himself for dealing a lot with older and more tiresome SOAP practices.

In addition to richer functionality, Enterprise API users can enjoy customized pricing, round-the-clock support service and assistance from dedicated account managers.

Content and functionality of Enterprise APIs

At the moment Enterprise catalog incorporates about 200 APIs based on SOAP and REST. The most productive capabilities available only with Enterprise APIs include the following:

As mentioned earlier, the Self-Service API versions are designed for companies with no specified travel industry accreditation. These are not authorized to handle airline ticketing operations and need to make partnerships with consolidators to be able to offer flight sales. When it comes to Enterprise options, they include all the necessary credentials to issue and process e-tickets. Amadeus provides Enterprise customers with all the tools required to manage this process.

The REST and SOAP APIs of this category serve to create flight bookings, ancillary reservations and also to manage Personal Name Records (PNRs).  Additionally, these APIs provide options to search, retrieve and display PNRs;  modify, add or cancel their individual elements – and more.

This category combines SOAP APIs for building car rental reservation engines and integrating car rental services into OTA offerings.

This section involves APIs used to build railway reservation systems or embed rail-related modules as part of standalone travel platforms.

Another advantage of Enterprise APIs is that only this suite allows clients to book flights from low-cost carriers and gain access to the content supplied in line with New Distribution Capability (NDC) – XML-based data exchange format created by IATA to enable travel providers deliver flight offers and ancillary booking details to their customers.

As of 2023 Amadeus GDS can source NDC-compliant content provided by over 20 airlines. The list includes United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Air France-KLM, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and others.

Building integrations with Enterprise APIs

Unlike GDS APIs, the Enterprise API set requires to meet a couple of conditions (for example, IATA/ARC certifications) and includes prolonged negotiations that can take weeks or even months.

Upon signing an agreement you’ll be given the toolkit to build and test your integrations using Enterprise APIs sandbox. It is possible to utilize the more modern and user-friendly REST APIs where available. But you’ll have to switch to SOAP from time to time. Luckily, there is an option to bundle REST and SOAP products together.

Usually the technical requirements of SOAP APIs are conveyed to client apps using Web Service Description Language (WSDL) . One can generate implementation code from available WSDL files and this way introduce more automation to the integration process. However, SOAP APIs will still be quite bulky to work with as they are:

  • based on XML;
  • less user-friendly compared to REST;
  • not inconvenient in a sense they might require several requests to perform a single operation; and
  • not documented too well — the API documentation could be much better ?, lots of things are not described properly or even not described at all.

All in all, working through SOAP APIs will take time and effort. And it could be a good idea to engage developers with previous experience of using them on real-life project cases.

Sources to get support

Enterprise subscription is provided based on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) or a special contract signed with Amadeus defining the volume of service to be provided.

Usually all Enterprise clients have their own dedicated account manager and support team contacts. These people can answer technical questions, assist with the configuration process and other things.

Commercial conditions

Enterprise subscriptions involve monthly fee payments stipulated in the contract. This fee covers the free API call quota and support services. Once you’re over the quota, you’ll have to pay extra for each new API call. But at this stage Amadeus can make a custom offer for you depending on the case.

The final pricing might also depend on ‘look-to-book ratio’ . This parameter indicates the share of visitors that actually book actual services on your platform. In case the share of buying visitors is too small, your service are likely to be less beneficial.

Conclusion

There are three main GDSs in the globe nowadays — Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport. All of them were initially designed for flight distribution. But now they also can be used to sell  hotels, car rentals and other services mentioned above.

Amadeus is the best option among them all in case the plan is to offer services to European audiences. Although not too user-friendly in terms of functionality due to extensive use of SOAP protocols, Amadeus is steadily improving. The transfer to REST APIs is progressing and the quality of service and documentation provided is quite high.

Overall, Amadeus APIs provide some of the richest functionality on the market. However, due to their complexity it might make sense to engage an experienced 3rd-party contractor or consultant. This is especially true if you haven’t used the system before and need a solution within reasonable deadlines.

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Alex Shmyga
Alex
Senior Travel Tech Advisor at GP Solutions
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