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The wonders of aircraft booking systems

I'm heading home to Jersey for Christmas, so I decided to book flights on line. My ex-iXL colleagues back in my Scient days had built this really funky booking system for the ba.com web site, and (though I say it as one of the OnFired) it's one of the easiest online booking services around (though these days it would be better re-coded as a rich internet application using XML and Flash....).

Logging on as a loyal Executive Club frequent flyer I choose "Economy, Lowest" and see what flights are available. They're a bit expensive, and the return date I want isn't available. And the flight out on the day I want to travel is somewhat, err, early for my tastes.

So, just to see what happens I choose "Business, Lowest". In general business class flights in Europe aren't much more expensive than the equivalent flexible economy fare, so it's not as strange a thing to do as it may first seem.

But this time, things were a little odd.

I got quoted lower prices for a flexible economy fare than for my initial request, and get the days and flights I want.

Airlines trying to maximise utilisation mean that occasionally very odd things happen. It's a sign of the joys of allocated seating and fare policies. I'm glad I'm not the man who writes the seat loading algorithms...

Ah, well. Something to remember for the future. Just in case.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2003 05:13 pm (UTC)

I must admit that it's far and away the best booking interface, especially the airmiles use engine.

It works the way I think anyway. I like the range it gives you and the spread of dates around the specific days, rather than the rest of the stuff.
Dec. 17th, 2003 01:32 am (UTC)
Am I the only person for whom the phrase "rich internet application" causes a rising of gorge? Vile marketing term for a group of technologies that do have many useful areas of applicability - possibly even airline booking, though I'm not convinced that there's any real advantage over well-written DHTML.
Dec. 17th, 2003 01:35 am (UTC)
For me the key to RIAs is dynamic data-loading - a live XML feed with the back-end system. It works really well when you have context sensitive information that will vary based on the users site interaction - and where the user's responses are dependent on the information they have. I find Macromedia's hotel booking demo very convincing.

And yes, it is a marketing term. I wish I could come up with something better...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )