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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

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  1. I have some nice commentary suggesting a reform of the airline ticket system, here. The post also has some interesting mentions of what the airlines were told to do by experts, and what the airlines actually did (the exact opposite). This post should help give you a good idea about why and how the airline industry is having the problems that it has.
    In short, airlines need to make the tickets hold only the information that passengers want to know, as well as a tracking number for that specific ticket. Through the tracking number, the name on the ticket, and maybe even a copy of the photo from your driver’s license just for some extra security, the airline should be able to retrieve all the information that it needs from a computer database. This would make things easier for the passenger, because everything they need to know about their flight is on their ticket, and also easier for the airline employees who handle people who lose their tickets, because it should be possible for new tickets to be printed with a new tracking number, and the old ticket could be invalidated automatically. And, there is one slightly brilliant thing about adding a photo to the ticket; because some security systems are using face scanners, the face-scanning computer can match a passenger up with a ticket that they dropped somewhere in the airport and which someone gave to a ticket agent or security personnel (the ticket would be entered into the computer system). Airport workers would be able to return your ticket to you in less than a minute, and before you actually realize that you lost your ticket. And, because the computer network would have a picture of you in their computer network (they have a digital copy of your ticket, plus other info, so the picture is the same one as the picture on the ticket. Without the digital copy, they wouldn’t be able to print a new ticket), you should only need to look at the camera and show a bit of ID for them to verify that you are who you say you are, and print you a new ticket.

    Now, the airlines are having a hard time because they bought tons of equipment that they shouldn’t have purchased. For many years, airline travel has been quite stable, and increased only in proportion with the US population. Thus, the airline industry wasn’t really growing, it was at the ceiling and would not see any large increase in passengers. Consultants were telling the airlines this. However, airline executives decided to keep buying equipment, hire more people, and increase salaries, which made the stock go up. The thing about airline equipment is that it’s very expensive to maintain, even if it’s not in use. So, the airlines increased their expenses, but not their income. And, rather logically, the airlines that engaged in this stupid business strategy lost a lot of money, and will continue to do so because they have a bunch of planes which they can not use sitting on a tarmac, and costing millions to maintain. They are having a hard time selling the planes, too.

    Comment by Chris Edwards — Tuesday, December 28, 2004 @ 8:02 pm

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