Travel Technology for Dummies: What Are Active and Passive Segments?

Complicated topics explained in a simple way: Today let us understand what active and passive segments are.

First of all, what is a segment? We often talk about booking, segments, etc. but I have not yet provided a clear explanation of a segment other than that a booking on average has 2 ½ segments.

When we talk about segments, we usually mean active segments. A segment means…

  • … for airline bookings: each separate flight segment reservation identified by a separate flight number in a PNR, multiplied by the number of passengers booked in such PNR for such flight segment.
  • … for hotel bookings: each separate reservation processed through the respective GDS, regardless of the number of rooms or the number of persons or the duration of the stay.
  • … for car rental bookings: each separate reservation processed through the respective GDS, regardless of the number of vehicles or persons or the duration of the rental.
  • … for cruise bookings: each separate cabin reservation, regardless of the number of travelers or the duration of the cruise.
  • … for tour bookings: each separate reservation, regardless of the number of travelers or the duration of the tour.

Per definition, a passive booking or passive segment is a segment entered in a GDS that does not result in a ticket being issued. There are typically three situations when passive segments are booked:

  1. basic passive segment
  2. passive segment with due or paid fare or taxes from a refund or exchange
  3. passive segment as a retention segment

Most commonly, passive segments are used by agents or online booking tools to generate itineraries, make notes, and provide information to the back-office and/or expense management systems. A typical use for the latter are for instance bookings created outside the GDS (e.g. bookings on an airline website) to be captured and observed by the travel management program. In such a case, a GDS is used more or less like a database. Other 3rd party systems (back-office, expense management, security companies, etc.) hook into the GDSs and retrieve PNR information on all the bookings which are captured there. If bookings are created outside the GDS, they will not be picked up by those 3rd party systems unless a passive segment is created (it can’t be an active segment as otherwise the GDS would action on it and e.g. create a booking, which would then be a double booking – one created by the GDS and one directly on the airline website in the example above).

Billing for Passive Segments

GDSs may charge separately for passive segments, especially if they are used in the way just described where the GDS is used as a database while no booking is created which they would get paid for by the airline. On the other hand, GDSs provide a limited number of such passive segments for free in response to supplier concerns that agents should not have to pay the GDS to import a PNR when a passenger was booked and ticketed by the supplier and then sought the services of an agency. Airlines sometimes make clear of this fact by advising their users that when they want to keep track of a booking for administrative purposes, they should use non-billable status codes which include AMADEUS – GK, APOLLO – BK, SABRE – YK and WORLDSPAN TVL Air.

Some Sabre specifics: The status code GK is used to create passive flight segments for ticketing purposes only. The status code YK is used to create passive flight segments for itinerary printing and invoicing purposes only. It is advised to never use passive status codes to sell flight segments as they do not generate sell messages to the airlines.

Example PNR

Here you can find an example PNR of our own XML structure. The file contains:
  • Active air segments: /PNRViewRS/AirGroup/Flight [ElementNumber=6,15-17]
  • Passive air segment: /PNRViewRS/Passive/Flight [ElementNumber=13]
  • Active hotel segments (HHL): /PNRViewRS/LandGroup/HotelSegment [ElementNumber=5]
  • Passive hotel segments: /PNRViewRS/MiscellaneousGroup/HotelPassiveSegment [ElementNumber=3-4]
  • Active car segments (CCR): /PNRViewRS/LandGroup/HotelSegment [ElementNumber=7-10]
  • Passive car segments: /PNRViewRS/MiscellaneousGroup/CarPassiveSegment [ElementNumber=12]

Picture credit: Shutterstock

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Rebeca Hop

    Can you explain me what is a retention segment? And why its retained?

  2. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo

    […] aggregators) need to carefully read their agreements. In the press I read many times, to just use passive segments for post-booking services. But rarely those passive segments come free of charge, and sometimes one […]

  3. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Michael Strauss

    Dear Sreenu,

    we usually provide only samples of our own XML structure. I added a box with a reference to a sample PNR incl. passive segments for air/car/hotel in the article. You may alternatively want to contact your GDS directly.

    With regards to CAR vs CCR and HTL vs HHL, I’m not sure I understand the question. CCR and HHL are Amadeus names for hotel/car segments. The other ones Sabre.

    Did this answer your question?

    Thank you,

  4. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo

    Please provide some live sample PNRs having active & passive segments for Air, Car, Hotel . And also can you please differentiate CAR vs CCR and HTL vs HHL.

  5. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Michael Strauss

    Dear KC,

    If the PNR is booked in the GDS, then one should of course use the real booking. However, if that trip or portion of a trip was not booked in the GDS, there is no record of it in the GDS. This is when passive segments come into play, so that (in most cases automated) backend processes can still work and the agency has a complete record in one place.

    I hope this helps.


  6. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo

    Why travel agencies cannot use the real confirmed booking instead of creating YK segments for issuing invoices or printing tickets? YK segments will be charged in some airlines.

  7. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Michael Strauss

    Gentlemen, I appreciate your comments and additions! Keep it coming!

  8. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Mike Lee

    Thank you for the information. It is always a pleasure to understand the workings of the industry and while it may seem simple to the average traveler, a lot goes into managing the segments. I liked the coding example you gave for the ticketing and I shall keep a lookout for the same just to better understand and witness passive and active segments in actual use.

  9. Avatarwp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-150 alignnone photo
    Roland Heller

    When we talk about segment we mean the number of flight segments. When we talk about passenger segments then we multiply by number of passengers, excluding INFANTS.

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