Why are airline computer reservation systems so slow?
February 19, 2014 2:53 PM Subscribe
The computer reservation system that airline personnel at airports use to rebook flights for customers, change seats, and so on seem markedly slower than when the customer uses the internet to pick a seat, or book or change a flight. Why is that?
posted by lassie to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
I've noticed it in the past, but was reminded of this mystery again when our flight out of Santo Domingo was canceled recently and we had to go to the airline desk to rebook on another flight. After the agent confirmed that there were two seats available on the next flight, it took her another fifteen to twenty minutes to book us on it. She didn't ask us for any additional information than she already had on her computer screen, so presumably that wasn't the cause of the delay, nor was she markedly less competent than her colleagues. I've noticed this in many different countries, including the US, and even noticed it for (what I think of as) relatively straightforward tasks such as changing seat assignments in the system. Tasks that take me about ten minutes or less to accomplish online seem to take them twice or thrice as long.
I'm old enough to remember pre-internet travel, when booking an airline ticket required a festive family visit to a travel agent and a meeting that could last over two hours, but things have progressed considerably since then, and now picking a seat on a flight requires nothing more complicated than looking at an image of the plane online and seeing which seats are available. But apparently not for the airline agents.
So, what're they actually doing on those monitors?