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In the airline and travel industries, a passenger name record (PNR) is a record
in the database of a computer reservation system (CRS) that consists of
the personal information for a passenger and also contains the itinerary for the passenger,
or a group of passengers travelling together. The concept of a PNR was first introduced by airlines
that needed to exchange reservation information in case passengers
required flights of multiple airlines to reach their destination (“interlining”).
For this purpose, IATA and ATA defined standards for interline messaging of PNR and other
data through the "ATA/IATA Reservations Interline Message Procedures - Passenger" (AIRIMP).
There is no general industry standard for the layout and content of a PNR. In practice,
each CRS or hosting system has its own proprietary standards, although common industry needs,
including the need to map PNR data easily to AIRIMP messages, has resulted
in many general similarities in data content and format between all of the major systems.
When a passenger books an itinerary, the travel agent or travel website
user will create a PNR in the CRS, which may be an airline's database or
typically one of the global distribution systems (GDSs), such as Amadeus, Sabre,
or Travelport (Apollo, Galileo, and Worldspan). If a booking is made directly with
of the airline's CRS, the PNR is called the Master PNR for the passenger and the associated itinerary.
The PNR is identified in the CRS by a record locator. If portions of the travel itinerary are not to be provided
by the holder of the Master PNR, then copies of the PNR information are sent to the CRSs of the airlines that will be
providing transportation. These CRSs will open copies of the Master PNR in their own database to manage the portion of the
itinerary for which they are responsible. Many airlines have their CRS hosted by one of the GDSs, which allows sharing of the PNR.
The record locators of the copied PNRs are communicated back
to the CRS that holds the Master PNR, so all records remain tied together.
This enables exchanging updates of the PNR when the status of the trip changes in any of the CRSs.