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Introduction to airline reservation systems

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Introduction to airline reservation systems

  1. 1. Introduction March 2009 Airline reservation systems
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Key airline terms </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to Computerized Reservation </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of Global Distribution Systems </li></ul>
  3. 3. Key airline terms
  4. 4. Important terms <ul><li>Aircraft : A vehicle capable of air transport, such as an airplane, a helicopter, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Airline : A company that provides air transport services for passengers or freight under license from a recognized public authority. Also known as Carrier in some geographies </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduled airline : An airline that operates its flights to a fixed schedule, i.e. flight timings are fixed </li></ul>
  5. 5. Important terms <ul><li>Charter airline : An airline whose flights do not have a fixed schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Cabin : A class of service usually identified by a unique set of services offered (e.g. Economy, Business, First, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Flight : A trip made by an aircraft between two geographical locations </li></ul>
  6. 6. Important terms (continued…) <ul><li>Itinerary : A route of journey proposed by a traveler </li></ul><ul><li>Ticket : (Usually) a printed piece of paper or card showing that its holder has the right to use services on one or more specific flights </li></ul><ul><li>Travel agency : A business that attends to the travel needs of an individual or a group of individuals </li></ul>
  7. 7. History of Computerized Reservation Systems
  8. 8. Background <ul><li>Airlines need to maintain multiple types of information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Route information : Covers the destinations served by the airline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aircraft information : Information on the aircrafts used by the airline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedule information : Covers information on days and times on which the flights operated by the airline are scheduled to run </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fare information : Prices for various flights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reservation information : Passenger and cargo reservations, including information on passenger tickets </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Background (continued…) <ul><li>Prior to 1950 all this information was published by airlines in large books, with separate books for each type of information </li></ul><ul><li>Travel agents had a really tough time looking through multiple books for booking tickets that covered multiple airlines </li></ul><ul><li>It was impossible to get a real-time view of the inventory (available seats on a flight) since airlines could synchronize data from multiple locations only once a day </li></ul>
  10. 10. Background (continued…) <ul><li>In order to make a booking, a customer would call up a travel agent, providing them details of their itinerary </li></ul><ul><li>Travel agent would first look up airlines, flights and schedules matching the customer’s itinerary </li></ul><ul><li>Customer would then call up individual airlines to check seat availability </li></ul><ul><li>Once seat availability was confirmed, travel agent would look up the price appropriate for the flights selected and inform the customer </li></ul><ul><li>Upon confirmation from the customer, travel agent would call the airlines back to reserve the seats </li></ul>
  11. 11. Background (continued…) <ul><li>In 1950 American Airlines decided to set up a computerized system that would allow real-time access to all its data across all its offices and travel agents </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, Semi-Automated Business Research Environment , or SABRE was born in 1964. It was the first computerized airline system (CRS) in the world </li></ul><ul><li>SABRE was developed as a joint effort between IBM and American Airlines </li></ul>
  12. 12. Background (continued…) <ul><li>When created, SABRE ran on two IBM 7090 mainframes. The system was upgraded to IBM S/360 in 1972 </li></ul><ul><li>In the 1970s and 80s multiple CRSs came up in North America </li></ul><ul><li>The first non-North American CRS was developed jointly by Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia and SAS in 1987. It was named Amadeus </li></ul>
  13. 13. Overview of Computerized Reservation Systems
  14. 14. Functions provided by a CRS <ul><li>A CRS typically provides the following functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flight schedule information : Days and times for flights operated by the airline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Availability information : Seat availability on a flight by service class, i.e. Economy, Business or First class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fare quotes : A consolidated fare for an itinerary based on flight, day, time, service class and passenger types chosen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reservation information : Seat bookings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ticketing information : Generating and storing tickets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Refunds and cancellations : Cancellation of existing reservations and tickets </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. An availability display screen
  16. 16. A fare display screen
  17. 17. Overview of Global Distribution Systems
  18. 18. History behind Global Distribution Systems <ul><li>Although the CRSs simplified the task of maintaining airline data, they brought in new problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In order to handle increasing passenger traffic, large computer systems were required for CRSs. This created a cost burden for airlines, especially the smaller ones which did not have enough money to spend on expensive mainframe technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CRSs were airline specific. This required travel agencies who wanted to sell tickets for multiple airlines to have individual connections to each airline separately </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Availability and fare searches across airlines was not possible since each airline had its own CRS. Since most passengers were interested in purchasing the cheapest fare rather than a specific airline, travel agents had to spend inordinate amount of time to determine cheapest fares across airlines </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The birth of Global Distribution Systems <ul><li>CRSs recognized the need to host data for more than one airline in order to bring efficiencies to a growing airline industry </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, CRSs transformed from being single airline reservation systems to multi airline distribution systems (GDSs) </li></ul><ul><li>These GDSs also decided to share data among each other to bring in additional efficiencies </li></ul>
  20. 20. Life of a travel agent before GDSs
  21. 21. Problems before advent of GDSs <ul><li>Travel agents required individual connections to airlines </li></ul><ul><li>If two or more airlines used different mainframe systems, travel agents had to use and be trained on different mainframe clients </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to perform direct searches across airline systems </li></ul><ul><li>Combining airline inventories a tedious process because inventory searches and reservations had to be performed in individual airline CRSs separately </li></ul>
  22. 22. Life of a travel agent after GDSs
  23. 23. Advantages of a GDS <ul><li>Simplified access to possibly all airlines, through a single interface </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to connect to multiple airlines either through legacy mainframe clients or modern PC based clients </li></ul><ul><li>Less maintenance and up-keep overhead </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to combine airline inventories </li></ul>
  24. 24. How GDSs have evolved <ul><li>Due to airline CRSs being based on mainframes, GDSs have been based on mainframes as well </li></ul><ul><li>Over the last few decades, GDSs have started providing direct connectivity from non-mainframe clients such as PCs </li></ul><ul><li>GDSs have also started leasing hosting space (hardware, software and connectivity) to airlines which do not want to create and host their own CRSs </li></ul><ul><li>The advent of Internet has seen GDSs offer innovative products suited for accessing airline information over the Internet </li></ul>
  25. 25. How GDSs have evolved (continued…) <ul><li>GDSs now provide access to non-air products as well: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Car rentals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hotel booking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Packaged holidays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cruises and ships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Railways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local road transport: bus, tram, taxi </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Major GDSs in operation today <ul><li>Amadeus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1987 by Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa and SAS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head-quartered in Madrid, Spain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Largest booking share in Europe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third largest booking share across the globe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by , and </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Galileo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1993 by 11 major North American and European airlines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head-quartered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Second largest booking share across the globe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by , </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Major GDSs in operation today (continued…) <ul><li>SABRE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1964 by American Airlines and IBM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head-quartered in Southlake, Texas, USA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Largest booking share across the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by , </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worldspan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1990 by Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Transworld Airlines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Merged with Galileo in 2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used by , , </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Recap and summary
  29. 29. Summary <ul><li>Airlines need to store multiple types of information such as routes, schedule, fares and reservations </li></ul><ul><li>Travel agents need access to multiple pieces of information before making a reservation </li></ul><ul><li>Before 1950 airline information was stored, distributed and accessed through non-electronic media </li></ul>
  30. 30. Summary (continued…) <ul><li>First computerized airline reservation system (airline CRS), SABRE created in 1964 as a collaboration between IBM and American Airlines </li></ul><ul><li>CRSs evolved into GDSs over a period of time </li></ul><ul><li>4 major GDSs operational today – SABRE, Worldspan, Galileo and Amadeus </li></ul>
  31. 31. Questions?
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