As you know from my trip report last week, I was in Miami attending Farelogix media day. But what is it that Farelogix actually does? The company’s end goal is to give airlines the freedom to sell tickets the way they want. Ultimately, this will make it easier for travelers to buy tickets with the options they want. In fact, Farelogix has put together a system that would make buying tickets much better today… if there weren’t so many roadblocks preventing it from being implemented.
As a traveler, you shouldn’t care about the name Farelogix. Farelogix sells directly to airlines and won’t be the name you’ll see as a traveler. The idea is to create a system that the airlines can use to distribute fares and ancillary options to anyone who wants them. And I do mean anyone, because this is really just putting the information into an XML format that can then be sliced and diced in a million different ways. It’s up to the airlines to use this technology to reach the end customer, but as a customer today, you aren’t going to see it.
Today, I’m going to talk about what the system is, but then I’ll address why you can’t use it yet in a future post. Keep in mind that these screenshots are just of a basic system showing functionality, so it’s not meant to be pretty. The bundle names and fares have been changed as well.
When you do a search, you will be able to see fares in the way the airlines want them displayed. In this case, we see American’s fares on top with the three different bundles that the airline rolled out earlier this year. Then United’s fares are below and they don’t do bundles. So you can display it all in one place, expanding each airline if you want to see more details.
Then when you pick a fare, you can see all options available to go with that fare. Here’s where it gets really interesting. The idea is that you would have logged in and all of your airline frequent flier numbers would be stored, so it would know if you have elite status or not. It would then enable you to see exact fee information instead of just seeing ranges of fees as you do today.
In this particular example, there were two travelers. The one on the left is an elite member and the one on the right is not. As you can see, the guy on the left gets priority boarding and first two bags free while the guy on the right has to pay. But the guy on the right can simply click to add that to his cart before checking out.
Each of these options also gives the ability to integrate multimedia. So here you can see a picture of the meal that you would be buying. They can also put video in there as well. It means no more searching for pictures on random sites online to find these things.
You’ll also be able to pull up the seat map and see which seats are available at which price. It would include premium economy seats and those “choice” seats where you have to pay to sit. And you would be able to mouse over and see the seat that you’re going to get (maybe not the EXACT seat but, well, you get it).
Then when you’re ready to check out, you can see a final price that shows everything that’s included and everything you’ve opted for. It can process the payment and issue the tickets right there.
If you purchased something like a lounge pass, how would you get it? Well, the system can just send it directly to your phone if the airline is set up to use a QR code to allow you to enter. It can all be done very easily. But it doesn’t stop at the purchase point.
You can even check in using this system and it would be able to push upgrade offers right there, with payment handled in the system. Then you can get your boarding pass and be on your way.
Of course, for Farelogix, this is just something they mocked up to show what could be done. It’s pretty impressive, but it’s far from limiting. It’s all about having the data in a simple format that can be manipulated in a million ways. Online travel agents can use this data to create a far better display than what they have today, comparing options in a much more intelligent way incorporating fees as needed. Real travel agents can use a system like this to manage their own ticketing as well. In fact, it’s set up so that you can plug anything into it. In other words, if American did this, a travel agent could then pull in American’s data and combine it with that of other airlines that sell only through the Global Distribution Systems (GDSes). Then it can all be presented and acted upon in one place. How ideal.
So why hasn’t this happened? Oh me, oh my. It’s a long and painful tale. That will have to follow in a later post.