'Command line' is still flying behind the scenes for online booking of airplane tickets

As a result of the widespread use of the Internet, airplane tickets can now be quickly booked from a PC or smartphone screen. Although it is a modern technology that people often think of as 'net technology is amazing', data is still transmitted in the command line format behind the scenes.

The Technology That Changed Air Travel


In the past, when aircraft tickets were very expensive, seat reservations were managed using paper and pen tactics. Eight staff members sit around a circular table with a rack that rotates in the center, pull out the reservation ledger created for each flight, check the availability, and write the reservation name. Had been This work, which is all done in analog, took a long time, and the average time to complete one reservation was 3 hours. There are also many mistakes, and according to one theory, every 12 reservations made one mistake.

What changed this situation was the SABER (Semi-Automated Business Research Environment), a computer reservation system developed by American Airlines and IBM. Talks with the president of American Airlines, who happened to ride next to him when an IBM salesman boarded American Airlines, began development in 1957. SABER, developed by IBM and American Airlines based on the technology of the project with the United States Air Force, uses two

IBM transistor type computer mainframes `` IBM 7090 '', development cost $ 40 million, modern value It seems that it was actually 350 million dollars (about 40 billion yen) when converted to.

With the introduction of SABER, the time from inquiry of available seats to reservation completion has been reduced to just a few seconds. This technology has brought great benefits to American Airlines, and has created a situation where other airlines can not keep up at all.

Later, as time passed, IBM began offering SABER technology to other airlines. In the aviation industry, the computer reservation management system called CRS (computer reservation systems) has begun to penetrate, and the productivity of the entire industry has rapidly improved.

As CRS became more widespread and computerized, travel agencies making reservations with airlines began to become an overall bottleneck. It's no wonder that airlines have a quick computer process, while travel agencies are still negotiating with the airline over the phone. Therefore, in 1976, the development of a terminal system that combines the CRSs introduced by each company into one began.

The Global Distribution Services ( GDS ) created in this way have made the entire industry, including travel agencies, online, and made booking operations faster. As of 2018, this mechanism is widely used, and SABER and Amadeus, which spin out from American Airlines and become independent companies, occupy 80% of the industry share.

Many people who want to buy plane tickets may search for keywords such as 'airplane ticket price comparison' on Google search and other places to find the cheapest ticket on price comparison sites. The service that allows you to search for the flights of each travel agency collectively and compare the prices is very convenient, but in fact in the background the above-mentioned GDS is running, and all the data is communicated by the command line where characters are listed It is said that it is. An example is the following command line, where all characters have a proper meaning.

The first '1' means 'search for available flights', and the next five characters are the date of departure. The airport where the next three letters depart, and the airport where the last three letters arrive. 'SFO' is the airport code for San Francisco International Airport and LHR is the airport code for 'Heathrow International Airport' in London, so the above example means 'Depart from San Francisco International Airport on December 12 and head for Heathrow International Airport. Search for flights with available flights. '

The following string is returned by the system in response to this query. The first '12DEC WED' indicates the departure date, and 'SFO / T-7' indicates the departure point, which means 'San Francisco International Airport, which is 7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time'. And of course next is the destination information, 'LHR / GMT ¥ 8' indicates that it is '8 hours ahead of the departure point at Heathrow International Airport in the world standard time zone'.

And what is difficult is the following description. Three items are lined up, and 'UA 184' is a flight number. And the character string “C9 D9 Z9 P8 ...” that follows indicates the number of vacant seats in each class set for the seats. Generally speaking, three classes of airplane seats are well known: `` F (first class) '', `` C (business class) '' and `` Y (economy class) '', but in the actual reservation business, it is more Of course, there are many classes set.Of course, when you actually appear, you will sit in one of the FCY classes, but at the time of reservation, separate the classes finely and change the price delicately That is, it is possible to achieve optimization.

'SFOLHR' indicates the departure and arrival locations, '2255 0445 ¥ 1' indicates the departure and arrival times, and '¥ 1' indicates 'arrival the day after the departure location'. `` 738 '' is the equipment name in this case `` Boeing 737-800 aircraft '', `` S '' is an item to set in-flight meal, if necessary `` BLML (Bland Meal) '' or `` CAKE (birthday cake) '' Etc. can be set. '0' is the number of passes, and 0 means a non-stop route. 'DCA / E' is an item that indicates whether the airline is directly connected to SABER, and if '/ E' is displayed, it indicates that electronic tickets are available.

In this way, even as of 2018, although it is an aircraft reservation system managed by the command line with the season, the scene that it can not respond due to the passage of time from development has appeared. One of the examples is that customization items such as 'whether to use in-flight Wi-Fi' are increasing. In particular, LCCs (cheap airlines) are working to improve competitiveness by setting detailed options, but GDS, which has become an old technology, can no longer follow all of them.

To solve this problem, a reservation management system based on the markup language ' XML ' is expected to be introduced. The industry association IATA ( International Air Transport Association ) has formulated an XML-based data standard 'NDC (New Distribution Capability)', and SABER and Amadeus have updated their systems to support XML. With aircraft demand expected to double by 2040 around 2018, it is certain that the aviation industry will continue to grow and fragment.

in Software,   Web Service,   Ride, Posted by darkhorse_log