24 April 2010

BA Blames Others For Res System Snafus

In what must either be a simmering dispute between Amadeus and BA or Amadeus's failure to provide basic functionality to BA Reservations - Willie Walsh went on the offensive with his pleas to having customers be patient with BA as they rush to restore order and get people home.

Knowing a little about the reservations system - it would seem that either a rule could be written to cover how interline, codeshares and GDS based new bookings could use the system at a lower priority for BA's own customers. To wit - BA has an unused letter in its inventory bucket system which could be used to accommodate passengers who had existing reservations. "R". While my solution would be simplistic with a bit of jerry rigging the customers with existing tickets could be ticketed on a priority basis in R notional bucket ahead of any Y seats. only when R's were exhausted for a particular flight would the seats cascade down to open classes of seats. Yes it would take some effort but it would be a solution.

However it seemed all the bright sparks at Amadeus and BA couldn't figure out a system way to handle the customers who were stranded. Result - BA had to shut off all access to its seats for new customers and others alike. Turning it back on again has proved to be a little challenging. With reduced staff manning the check in process there are fewer people around who know how to fix it. Hats off to the boys and girls who work on the line in res who had to work all these queues!

In defense of BA - Willie is right - this whole thing was unprecedented. But airlines spend a lot of time creating and planning for disaster scenarios as existed. Well boys and girls we now have a new one to deal with. And it is likely to happen again. That Volcano could erupt for hundreds of years.

But let's also say that there has been a creeping issue which is now confronting airlines. Lack of Capacity. With an estimated 3-5 years of airframe production capacity now sitting parked in various deserts the reduction and better matched ASKs to RSKs - the capacity of the overall system to match seats in the situations such as we have seen becomes a lot harder. Airlines should go back and look at their scenarios on how they can plan for eventualities such as this. And don't forget that now there is a legal requirement to adhere to newer tougher rules - The EC Customer Protection which came into force in 2005 was enforced by the EC. Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.

For sure - the chaps who design and sell and more importantly manage PSSs should think of how they can deal with situations like this in the future. Welcome back to the world of FIMs and Reaccomodation. And don't forget the Law is going to be breathing down your neck.


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