25 December 2010

Expedia's Actions Strike Fear and Loathing Into Many Suppliers

At first glance - the Expedia decision to kick AA out of the shopping displays was portrayed as a gesture of solidarity with its friends over at Sabre and Travelocity/Orbitz.

However perhaps there is a more sinister reason why Expedia took this action now.

After chatting with some colleagues who are in both the air and non-air space there is a very strong sense of disquiet on the supply community.

If Expedia wins and AA is forced to back down - then Expedia will have demonstrated that is has HUGE power to control the supply chain.

For smaller airlines and hotel chains in particular this strikes fear and loathing on their part. They fear that Expedia will start to throw its weight around with the supply chain and that could really hurt marginal suppliers who depend on Expedia for a large percentage of their business. In the US Market we are coming up on the quiet season when there is much lower volume of transaction. Many of these same suppliers fear that Expedia will now threaten them with punitive action unless they go along with higher yields to the company.

Even if Expedia doesn't prevail - there are few suppliers who could afford a protracted battle with the Bellevue based OTA giant.

Thus many of these players are secretly quaking in their boots over holiday season and looking at Expedia as the Evil GRINCH for stealing Christmas.


24 December 2010

Forrester's Take on AA et al. Video Link

Our fave analyst - well one of them anyway - Henry Harteveldt - was on Bloomberg TV yesterday.

Check out this video.

Henry explains in good terms the issues. While I dont fully agree with him about these issues - we can say that he does a good job in laying them out.

One key issue he brought out is that AA is ALREADY directly connected to Orbitz. But his analysis of saying that the Direct Connect option is the more expensive one is incorrect one.

Still a good session to watch


How To Outsmart Expedia's Ban On AA

Game time everyone - listen up. The Professor's Guide to Buying American Airlines Tickets. A Primer for smart shoppers.

Today's game is how to use Expedia and Orbitz to easily get access to AA in these OTAs. Keep this link however because it will become more useful over time. I will come back and update this page as new changes happen.

Firstly you are already a smart shopper so we are not going to teach you how to suck eggs. We are going to assume that you know a little bit - probably a lot if you read this blog on a regular basis.

The easiest way to book AA is to use those "neutral" sites that have retained AA. For example if you are used to using Orbitz - just click on over to Cheaptickets who still shows AA. (Yes luv its the same engine at the back! so for Orbitz users this will be REALLY familiar)

For example here is a display that (honest 'guv) I just chose at random a route where I know a nonstop would return to me an AA result. Interestingly the AA price was cheaper than the other guys... how about that!!!

But what if you dont want to use any other site than Expedia or Orbitz itself and that despite all that your little inner voice tells you - you REALLY want to use Expedia to see about AA and compare AA's priced. Well you can do that.

Here is how.

Path 1 - see if there is a code share that might cover the route.

AA as with many airlines has code share partners. Unlike United, Continental and US Airways who are clogging our results screens with the same flights - AA has fewer partners. But here is where to get the list:

AA.com's Code Share pages

Print this page and keep it with you at all times. It is much better for International Flights than domestic. So think of this. For Transatlantic flights look for Iberia, Finnair and British Airways options with flight numbers generally in the 4 digit range. For service in the USA try using Alaska as a preferred airline but caution AS fares on AA tend to be higher than AA itself - often significantly so. Again refer to the list and the links from the AA Codeshare home page above.

Here is an example

Look at the BA 4 digit flight numbers they are the AA flights.

Path 2 - Use a Meta/Real Search Site

For this good sites like Kayak in the USA and Skyscanner in Europe provide a way to see things neutrally and still then go through the task of selecting the flight you want on AA.

For example here is the Kayak display for all sites. To eliminate duplication I only requested nonstops on mainline aircraft but all carriers all sites.

Path 3 - suck it up and figure out where to go to get the right flight data.

To do this you can only use Expedia as neither Orbitz.com not Orbitz for business sites are displaying AA right now - although eBookers and Cheaptickets are.

And of course if all else fails go to AA.com. Well heck you were going to buy there anyway weren't you!


Still Time To Donate

Please support the T2Impact/Professor Sabena Annual charity drive.

This year our end of year charity contribution will be to raise money to Sponsor A Puppy For the Guilde Dogs for the Blind UK. If you would like to do this yourself click here:


Did You Forget? Well 2 Years To Go

Did you fly on BA and Virgin between August 11, 2004 and March 23, 2006?

If so then here is your annual reminder to file with the court to get some money back.

Go to the website and get collecting your paper trail proof. If you dont you will be sorry.

In re International Air Transportation Surcharge Antitrust Litigation
Case No. M:06-md-1793-CRB


You may be a member of a settlement class relating to a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court - Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, In re International Air Transportation Surcharge Antitrust Litigation; Case No. M:06-md-1793-CRB, concerning fuel surcharges on "long haul" flights provided by British Airways Plc and Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. If you bought a ticket on British Airways or Virgin Atlantic in the U.S. or in the U.K. between August 11, 2004 and March 23, 2006, you may be entitled to a partial refund of the fuel surcharge.
The settlement relates only to tickets on "long haul" flights. All flights on Virgin Atlantic are "long haul." Most British Airways flights between the U.K. and non E.U. destinations, including flights to and from the United States, are "long haul." A complete list of qualifying flights can be found on the website listed below. If you have already submitted a claim, you do not need to do so again. The last day to submit a claim is December 31, 2012. For more information please visit www.airpassengerrefund.com or call the toll free number at 1-877-625-9432. You can also write to Kenneth R. Feinberg, Esquire, Settlement Administrator, c/o Epiq Systems, P.O. Box 19263, Washington, D.C. 20036-9263

'Tis The For Crystal Ball Gazing

Oil is not likely to come down in price to any major degree in 2011.

This post is going to discuss the impact of high oil prices as a factor in 2011.

This one has kinda crept up on us. Oil is now cresting above $100 a barrel. With the severe weather across Europe battering Airports and other uses of oil for transport alike - we are likely to see a peaking and spot shortage of fuels across the northern hemisphere this winter. After when the spring season hits the North it is not likely to moderate to much extent. This is going to have a knock on effect.

I believe that air ticket prices are going to stay high. This will in turn drive the need for Fuel surcharges. I believe the airlines will flex their YQ/YR muscle and raise those rates. Remember that after the peak pricing in 2008/9 the Fuel surcharges only moderated a small amount.

With Fuel consuming a larger percentage of the airline cost base - the amount of available flexibility on airline pricing will lead to restrained capacity growth, particularly among the legacy and high cost carriers of Northern Europe and North America. Those with aging fleets - particularly the US Carriers will feel this pain more than others with younger fleets. This sets up a long term conflict with the aircraft manufacturers. Both Airbus and Boeing have recently upped their short term production rates. But where are those planes going? Expansion in Asia/Pacific who demands keep rising. I saw an amazing statistic that saw Beijing add a higher rate of cares to the city that already has the worst commute (tied with Mexico City). The official Xinhua News Agency said 30,000 new vehicles were registered in the past week alone, at least three times the normal rate.

Airbus actually has more flexibility as it has 3 production lines running in separate areas - China, Hamburg and Toulouse for the A320 family. Boeing is actually running at full capacity on the 2 737 lines in Renton. I spoke with a senior manager there over the past few days and he opined that the current run rate can only be marginally improved without significant changes to the work flow and supply chain. That requires infrastructure change such as more plant or another line. Neither is going to happen any time soon.

The reason I point these out is that China is going to really start competing with the USA as a huge importer of oil for domestic consumption. And the US airlines do not have the resources to significantly reduce their fuel burn rate and cost.

Despite Skype's well publicized outage on December 22nd we are going to see a lot more traffic exit from the higher yielding business travel. But that is not confined to just business travel.

The use of Skype and GoogleTalk is growing fast and we can expect others to adopt similar technologies. This means that we will have SMEs and personal consumers adopt live real time personal and small group interaction via video. The upcoming deployment of 2 cameras in the iPad 2 will mean that Facetime will have a much broader and viable usage.

The growing divergence of meeting cost - real presence rising costs and virtual presence diminishing costs will mean a permanent leakage of the former to the latter.

Bottom line the elasticity of demand will be low and it will be a supply market in the USA. In turn this will favor the supply side. It will also significantly favor non-oil based communication solutions such as tele-presence and other comms based solutions.

That my friends is not going to favor those who are intermediaries in my view.


23 December 2010

The Professor's Xmas Wishes

So what is Santa bringing you under the tree this year?

Well since I bought Tivo during the year - I will have to give it a content boost - probably I will make a netflix subscription.

I wont reveal what I bought as a communal gift for family and friends but I will reveal one tomorrow.

But here is my big wish for 2011.

That we will finally get a way to search and display the true value based price to the consumer.

Boring But really important.

For other wishes... let's hope Google plays nice when it buys ITA.
Let's hope AA et al work it out in an equitable way.


That we are all safe and sound this time next year to enjoy it.

Cheers and peace and love to you and your families this holiday season.

The Professor is working and will be pushing out stuff over the period. Just to keep you all entertained.


Your Fave Complainer

OK so the poll was not well attended but the winner by a mile

Who is your favorite complainer?

Fair Search with 75% of the votes.


How Not To Do A Great Apology

Poor American Honda ...

Either they were hacked or there was unauthorized use of a list by a vendor who was misusing the Honda Email list for owners of Acura and Hondas in the USA.

The intro paragraph immediately sets the tone of the whole mail. I am going to paraphrase what went through my mind when I read it.

"Sorry mate not our fault that we let your personal data get misused - so that makes it alright OK???"

They really did a poor job of communicating what the problem was and what the impact could have been. Further they did an ineffective job of communicating that this was bad or not so bad.

So you be the Judge. But I think they did a bad job. And I REALLY like Hondas - I have 3 of them!

Dear Customer,

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. recently became aware of unauthorized access to an email list used by a vendor to create a welcome email to customers who have an Owner Link or My Acura vehicle account. The data that was obtained included your email address, your name, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and User ID. Your password was not included and no other sensitive information was contained in that list.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. As a company, we believe that all customer relationships must be built on trust. That is why we believe it is important to inform you of this incident. You may be aware of attacks on email marketing systems, therefore we want to assure you that we take the safeguarding of your information seriously and that the appropriate authorities have been contacted regarding this incident. Additionally, we have taken steps to minimize this type of exposure in the future.

As a Company, we encourage you to continue to be aware of the increasingly common email scams that may use your email address to contact you and ask for personal or sensitive information -- Be cautious when opening links or attachments from unsolicited third parties. Also, know that American Honda Motor Co., Inc. will not send you emails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personal information. If ever asked for this information, you can be confident it is not from us.

Again, let us reassure you that we are taking necessary steps to safeguard your personal information.

If you would like further information on this topic please visit honda.com/info/b

Thank you.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Expedia's Christmas Gift In Rhyme to Orbitz

Christmas is coming, the airlines are getting fat
Please put a penny in the Orbitz's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a fare ban will do
If you haven't got any content, then God bless you!

So The Professor's Contribution to Orbitz is not coal. I offer this free video with how to make a cheap Xmas Tree for your apartment or office that looks a LOT more expensive than it really is.

On - Off - Now On Again. LH and SK

What happened today... did the whole world just wake up?

Well LH and SK are back in talks. SK's really only viable option is to join the Star Alliance Heavyweight.

However with LO bailing and moving (likely) to Oneworld and into BA's loving arms - there is actually an alternative that no one seems to be thinking about.

SK+FI merge and then become part of the Baaabi Alliance. That would really shake things up in the Alliance world.

Nah - that will never happen...


Shhhh. Wanna Get a Sneak Peak At Google's Xmas Page..

Then Go here


The Trouble With Blackberry

With a huge Shout Out to Professor Eric for sending me this one.

All I can say is even if you are a non-native English Speaker - this will make you smile.

Click here

Cheers and a Goodnight From him

Willie's Appeal for Calm

Following the terrible situation at LHR - BA's CEO issued the following email and advice

I am reprinting it here as advice and at least to give the boys and girls over there a break and know their efforts are acknowledged and valued



Oops EK A380 taken out by Catering Truck


The A380 program has just had its string of bad luck extended.

An Emirates A380 had a very unfortunate incident where a Catering truck had a "wardrobe" malfunction and collapsed onto the wing of the Leviathan.

For more pictures and the rest of the story go here:


22 December 2010

New NZ Seats are not Beds

NZ is making a lot of noise about its new Sky couches.

But lets add a dose of realism to this.

For anyone who has ever tried to sleep in Y class with 3 across seating you know its not a bed.

Indeed using standard metrics the size of 3 seats all together is about 54 inches. Hardly enough to sleep on.

Not So Quietly DL Cuts 3 OTAs

Its not quite mature enough to call it a trend but the US airlines are making their presence felt by pulling content from some channels.

Delta was always the Travel Agents best friend. But since 1995 when it elected to curtail commissions - it has taken on a certain mantle of dislike from the intermediary (mostly traditional) channels.

Now Delta is the latest airline to move out of some sales locations.

And what do you make of all this Virginia?

UA Apollo To Die in 2012/2013

A little break in the AA vs Travelport story was the news that United Airlines has served notice that it will be terminating its contract with Travelport for passenger reservations and airline IT.

According to Travelport they believe the business will go to HP's EDS Airline unit marking a big win for the California based Computer Services firm.

This marks the second time in 2 years that a major US carrier has cut its links to its former child. Last year AA announced it was severing its PSS agreement with Sabre and going to HP's new reservations system called Jetstream.

The announcement also hurts ITA's PSS prospects where it was also bidding for the business. However the only real contest was between the current big 3 PSS vendors. Sabre, Amadeus and HP.

Another icon bites the dust. For Travelport this will mark the 3 major airline loss.

TWA was folded and withdrew from Worldspan hosting
Northwest was subsumed into Delta - which has a facilities management agreement with Travelport
And now United is leaving.

Travelport needs to take its reservations services and give it a shot in the arm. From my personal experience, the hosting system of the old PARS was one of the more flexible and functionally rich hosting environments.


A Day Without Skype - Tough!

Today was a tough day. I had to do without Skype.

I did not realize how much I have come to depend on it.

So please Mr Skype get better soon so I can carry on my life


Spreading Uniformed Junk Courtesy of BTC

BTC Spreads False Information about How Web Users Search For Fares.

Time Out for A Moment Of Clarification.

This really bugs me. There is a complete and utter well dog poo of stuff coming from some of those players who support the legacy GDS - In this case Travelport - in its battle against American Airlines. I am particularly irritated by BTC.

Firstly a disclaimer - I have several clients who can benefit from the move to more direct connect activity by the airlines and yes personally I support that idea that airlines should be free to chose how and where they distribute, similarly how customers search and buy airline product. After all the USA is supposed to be the land of the Free. Thus yes I am clearly biased. However in this case I think I just want to set the record straight so that a reasoned analysis of the situation and the impact can be had by all.

In the latest missive from BTC - it would seem that the message is designed to show how stupid AA is for shutting off $800 million dollars of revenue that AA receives from Orbitz annually. But worse - the impact is accelerated by the importance of Orbitz which is far greater because of its relevance to the consumer in the marketplace.

Here is a statement from the latest BTC PR missive against American Airlines.

According to a May 2010 PhoCusWright report, 87% of travelers start their shopping process on the Internet. What’s more, some 28% of shoppers at online travel agencies (e.g., Orbitz) end up purchasing on suppliers’ websites.

The point: Consumers who start the shopping process on Orbitz before going to airline.com will now completely miss AA offerings and end up on AA competitors’ websites. This could represent a much bigger number than AA is willing to acknowledge.


Clearly the writer has little clue how people search for fares on the internet. BTW the total revenue - I Believe - is not just from Orbitz.com but also from the other OWW (Orbitz Worldwide) sites such as eBookers, and Cheaptickets all of whom (at time of writing) are still able to access AA. If I am wrong please can someone correct me and I will publish a correction asap. Indeed as I noted yesterday AA is even advertising on Cheaptickets. Anyone who is still naive enough to assume that shopping on the web for travel is a simple and fair process has not been paying attention for the past 15 years.

So let's start with an understanding the vast majority of searches on the web start in a specific place. Only 15% or so start in a pure search engine such is Google. Alright so far.

There are a lot of ways to search for information and Google aims to capture a much larger piece of that pie if - as we expect - the Google acquisition proceeds.

People shop in one place and buy in others. To say otherwise is rather disingenuous to the consumer. There are some folks who think that there should be a tax on people who look in one shop window and buy else where. On the web that is possible because a click-through does generate money. But in the real world does Bloomingdales charge people for looking in their shop window and buying at K-Mart? Hardly.

But let's return to the BTC statement.

If you examine the study concerned from PCW - there are other salient facts - that the customer will typically search in a large number of sites before making their decision. That search process is driven by a wide number of factors. To make the assumption that it is linear and that the search process goes in a linear path would be a false assumption. So to assume that:

A large number of searches start specifically with Orbitz.com and end at the AA website would be a bit of a stretch. A very big bit of a stretch.

As the Boomers retire and move out of mainstream - they are being replaced by new generations of consumers - Gen X, Y and Millenials who are far more comfortable in using social media to go straight to what they want or go via places that are nowhere near Orbitz.com.

Over time the relevance of the OTAs as a class and Orbitz as a member of the class has declined as the premier source of travel information.

This is a trend that will likely continue.

My other point is that the consumers are smart and if they feel that they want an offer from AA - they will either go direct to AA.com or to those sites where AA is present. They do this all the time anyway. Just in case you think this is a strange phenomenon - then consider how Southwest is rarely compared with other airlines. And Southwest is the number one US based carrier by passenger numbers domestically.

However let me be clear - there is an impact on AA. I cannot hope to know what is going on in the mind of the folks over at AA but I have to hope that they know what they are doing. This is a calculated risk and one they clearly feel comfortable in making. Also I think Travelport has calculated and made the decisions that they have.

To paint Travelport as the pure victim would be a falsehood in my view. Further for Travelport to have characterized their defense of Orbitz as the champion of the free is a bit of a stretch, particularly since they failed to disclose in public statements their ownership share in Orbitz.

Interestingly in issuing his decision on the subject - Cook County Circuit Court judge Martin Agras clarified things as he stated his grounds for denying the preliminary injunction, ...that Travelport, which controls 48% of Orbitz, “does not have standing to sue on behalf of Orbitz".

However I will agree with the folk at BTC. This is a just a shot in what will be a very long war. There will be casualties on all sides and the consumers will be affected. Ultimately in my view the essence of the battle is seen as purely an economic problem - there is a consumer benefit from buying direct it is cheaper to one side of the purchase. Consider that there is a tax being paid for partial neutrality in search. That tax is one of the issues here but I can assure you it is not the only one.


LoopHole Closes on Cheap Financing - AF/KL files to get one in quick

The major countries have agreed to raise the rates of the cheap guaranteed funding for planes from Airbus and Boeing.

This should end the war of words that have allegedly benefited the emerging Mid East Carriers such as Emirates. The major airlines of Europe and USA complained bitterly that this was unfair.

On the same day that the agreement was announced, AF/KL decided they didnt want to wait and for the deadline - they are going to get as much financing in before the deadline. They filed for a Boeing Aircraft beneficial funding support from Exim Bank.

Frankly I think this is a bit of hot air - but understand that the airlines who not are benefiting are PO'd but be careful what you wish for. Ultimately this could end up benefiting The next gen narrow bodies from Bombardier and Co. Particularly The Japanese, The Russians and the Chinese.

Perhaps these governments may have just shot themselves seriously in the foot


Für unsere deutschen Leser

Travelport American Airlines Surcharge Update (Auf Deutsch)

16. Dezember 2010

Sehr geehrte Travelport Kunden und Geschäftspartner,

der kürzlich erfolgte Versuch von American Airlines (AA), einem großen Reisebüro in den USA die Möglichkeit zu entziehen, Tickets von AA zu verkaufen, hat Travelport dazu veranlasst, verschiedene Maßnahmen zum Schutz von Reisebüros und Konsumenten einzuleiten. Es ist bedauerlich, dass AA sich zu diesem Angriff auf das Reisevermittlergeschäft in den USA entschlossen hat. Wir sehen darin den ersten Schritt des Unternehmens bei dem Versuch, die Transparenz und die freie Auswahl für Kunden weltweit einzuschränken.

Als Reaktion auf die Maßnahmen, die Travelport unternommen hat, um es Reisebüros auch weiterhin zu ermöglichen, auf klare und vollständige Inhalte zuzugreifen und entsprechende Buchungen vorzunehmen, hat AA den Reisebüros in einem Schreiben mitgeteilt, dass Travelport-Agenturen für Buchungen ab dem 20. Dezember 2010 eine Gebühr (Surcharge) in Rechnung gestellt wird. Dabei hat AA klargestellt, dass diese Kosten entweder von Ihnen selbst übernommen oder an Ihre Kunden weitergegeben werden müssen. Durch diese Maßnahme bestraft AA genau diejenigen, die AA wertvolle Einnahmen bringen.
Der surcharge list ist zu entnehmen, dass AA, je nach Land, variable Gebühren erheben wird. Die Abrechnung für die Reisebüros soll dabei in Form von ADMs (Agency Debit Memos) erfolgen. Travelport teilt die Ansicht der Branche, dass die Verwendung von ADMs zu diesem Zweck nicht den Bestimmungen der IATA-Resolution 850m entspricht.
Für den Fall, dass AA seine Pläne weiter verfolgt, möchte Travelport Ihnen die Maßnahmen und Lösungen erläutern, die wir ab dem 20. Dezember auf unseren GDS-Plattformen implementieren werden.
Erstens: Um jegliche Gebühren seitens AA für bereits vorhandene Buchungen zu vermeiden, empfehlen wir, die Tickets spätestens bis zum Geschäftsschluss am 19. Dezember auszustellen.
Zweitens: Für den Fall, dass Sie eine AA-Buchung anbieten müssen, hat Travelport Prozesse entwickelt, die bei Tarifabfragen oder Berechnungen die AA Gebühren inkludieren, so dass Sie Ihren Kunden Reisepreise und -angebote vorlegen können, die diese Aufpreise von AA und damit die Gesamtkosten des AA-Tickets von vornherein enthalten. In den meisten Fällen kann diese Gebühr auto¬matisch, ohne den ADM-Prozess, an AA überwiesen werden. In Europa handelt es sich hierbei um eine gesetzliche Vorgabe für die Darstellung von Tarifen, die durch den CRS Code of Conduct geregelt wird, welchem Travelport entsprechen muss.
• Gebühren werden bei Ausstellung von AA plated Tickets inkludiert - die anwendbare AA-Gebühr wird nur bei AA-Tickets im Preis enthalten und als miscellaneous tax („YY“) ausgewiesen sein. AA erhält diese Beträge automatisch durch die BSP-Abrechnung.
Die Platzierung der Gebühr in die YY Ticket Tax Box entspricht dem branchenüblichen Stan¬dard-Prozess. Es wird daher keine negativen Auswirkungen auf Ihre aktuellen Prozesse geben, auch nicht auf Ihre Backoffice-Funktionen und Reporting. Außerdem verringert sich so auch die Notwendigkeit für Ihr Reisebüro, Ausnahmeprozesse zu schaffen. Die Effizienz Ihrer Arbeit bleibt davon unberührt, und es sind weder irgendwelche „Work-arounds“ noch spezielle Mitarbeiter-schulungen o. Ä. erforderlich.
• Bei Non-AA plated Tickets sind die Gebühren nicht enthalten. Enthält ein Ticket, das nicht auf AA, sondern auf eine andere Fluggesellschaft ausgestellt wird, mindestens ein AA-Segment, wird die Gebühr zwar im „shopped pricing“ mit angezeigt, nicht aber im von Travelport generierten Ticket enthalten sein. Es wird seitens AA ein ADM ausgestellt werden.

Um die Gebühren von AA für AA-Segmente bei Ausstellung auf anderen Airlines abzudecken, ist es wichtig zu wissen, dass diese nicht in den YY-surcharge fees enthalten sind und Sie hier Ihre internen Geschäftsprozesse zur Integration dieser Gebühren in die „Customer Service Charges“ anweden müssen.
Wenn Sie ein Ticket als Nicht-AA-Ticket ausstellen, die Flüge aber von AA durchgeführt werden (Code¬sharing), fällt unserem Verständnis nach die von AA erhobene Gebühr nicht an. Zum gegen-wärtigen Zeitpunkt wissen wir jedoch nicht genau, wie AA bei seinen Codesharing-Arrangements diesbezüglich vorgehen wird.
Zusätzliche Informationen zu diesen Lösungen finden Sie unter „PA1115“ in ASK Travelport.
Wir sind sicher, dass es mit den von uns eingeleiteten Maßnahmen möglich ist, die tatsächlichen Kosten der AA-Buchung zum Zeitpunkt der Kaufentscheidung aufzuzeigen, sodass es Ihren Kunden ermöglicht wird, die Wahl der Fluggesellschaft, die geflogen werden soll, vollständig informiert zu treffen.
Wir möchten uns damit ganz klar zu einem wettbe¬werbs¬fähigen und verbraucherfreundlichen Markt bekennen, auf dem Reisende und Reiseberater die Angebote im Vertriebskanal ihrer Wahl anbieten, vergleichen und kaufen können.

Wir bedauern etwaige Unterbrechungen Ihrer Geschäftstätigkeit – Unterbrechungen, die wir durch die oben genannten Maßnahmen zu minimieren versucht haben –, und wir danken Ihnen und Ihren Kollegen weltweit für die überwältigende Unterstützung, die Sie uns, und unserem Standpunkt in dieser Angelegenheit, haben zukommen lassen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Kurt Ekert
Chief Commercial Officer

Is Orbitz Cheating? AA still Available On.... Cheaptickets.com

So Judge Martin Agran changed the world a little yesterday. But while I have not been able to find a copy of the ruling there are some interesting facts about the case.

AA was out of Orbitz in pretty short order - I believe about 30 mins.

However as you can see not all Orbitz sites have pulled AA.

See the screen shot from Cheaptickets.com just made. Note the Adsense AA ad at the bottom.

Here it is blown up

So is someone being a naughty boy or what?


AA out of Orbitz - Now What?

Multi Carrier Direct Connect Solutions now in production and available to the international marketplace.

The Professor's position on the Travelport's surcharge is that this is unwise. The US Judge has now allowed AA to withdraw from Travelport/Blackstone owned Orbitz and the fares and availability are now out with effect yesterday afternoon.

So now what are agencies in the international market to do? The obvious answers are to move the bookings to alternative GDSs such as Sabre and Amadeus. Booking directly via AA's business websites can be complicated. Some agencies are booking codeshares with AA as much as possible.

When the customer demands AA either explicitly or as a result of the search for the best results - the agency is duty bound to book the airline. But to offer competitive unbiased search - where can an agency go for a quick fix?

One of our client's LUTE Technologies is offering a fast track implementation multi-supplier direct connect system.

The old model of a single monolithic "one size fits everything" solution is dead.

Check out LUTE and its ability to address high quality content next gen solutions for Agencies.

Then get in touch directly. They are now offering solutions to Agencies and Airlines including BSP ticketing in more than 15 markets.


20 December 2010

Obama Administration Caves On Net Neutrality

Sound of wringing of hands....

The FCC will vote today and allow the components of so many loopholes as to make the net a place where closed players can gain an advantage.

This means that the winners will be AT&T, the Cable companies (esp Comcast), Verizon and Google.

Too bad for the rest of us. Read this piece (and others) in the Huffington Post.

Yours disgustedly

The Inevitable March of The Tablet

It seems that the tablet is beginning to become that ubiquitous tool that seems to be what people are going to use - a lot of.

I was an early adopter of the Windows XP Tablet. I loved its ability to do things that I could not do - nor could others - before. Despite cracking a few of them - I still use two of my Toshibas (I had 3). They were 2 heavy and didn't like using your fingers.

The iPad v1.0 is becoming like that. I see it everywhere. I have played with one and could easily master its use. V4.02 of the OS made a huge difference for the usability of the system.

A good article in the LA Times and syndicated in places like my local paper the Seattle Times discussed how Apple has taken the Crackberry and made it priority number one as their obstacle into the Corporate World.

The latest projections of WorldWide sales of iPads is really a scary number. Especially with Apple projected to capture nearly 70% of all tablet sales by 2012.

Are we doomed???

I hope not - but I am saving my pennies for April when the iPad2 comes out. Wait - did I just admit to that... (Que sound of humble pie eating).


When Delta.com Encounters Turbulence

Delta is currently undergoing some extensive changes to their main dot com website.

But we are still getting errors. So this is what it looks like.

And I seem to get them a lot both when I am signed in and when I am lurking anonymously.


Digital Trends for 2011 - eMarketer's picks and the Professor's align

I like eMarketer... I don't want to sound too praising but it is a great short hand way to get data.

So I was very interested in their 2011 picks.

Trend 1: Apps Invade All Platforms
Trend 2: Content Consumption Convergence
Trend 3: Location, Location, Location
Trend 4: Social Gets Its Share of Marketing Dollars
Trend 5: Real-Time Bidding
Trend 6: Targeting Audiences vs. Content
Trend 7: Online Privacy Debate Heats Up

Do any of these sound familiar?

if you are a regular follower of the Professor's Wisdom - you will know that I have been watching most of these.

During 2011 - I will continue to follow these elements and then some.


Travelport to AA - Its My Party...

The latest missive between the warring parties looks set for a tit for tat battle.

The latest email from Travelport to their technology partners and agency subscribers is as follows:

I provide this as a public service without comment. TEXT FOLLOW

American Airlines Surcharge Update

16 December, 2010

Dear Valued Customer,

American Airlines’ (AA) recent attempt to withdraw the ability of a large travel agency in the United States to sell its tickets has prompted Travelport to take a number of actions to defend travel agents and consumers. It is regrettable that AA has taken action to attack the intermediary channel in the U.S. in what we believe is a first step in its attempt to reduce transparency and effective choice for consumers worldwide.

In response to actions by Travelport to defend the ability of travel agencies to access and book clear and complete content, AA has issued a letter to travel agencies indicating it will apply surcharge fees to Travelport agencies for bookings made on or after 20 December 2010. AA has stated that you will need to absorb these costs or pass them along to your customers. Through this action, AA is penalising the very people who deliver valuable revenue to AA.

AA intends to apply variable surcharge fee levels on a country-by-country basis as identified in their surcharge list and intends to invoice affected travel agencies via agency debit memos (ADMs). Travelport supports the industry in its contention that the use of ADMs for this purpose is not within the bounds of IATA Resolution 850m.

Should AA go ahead with the action its plans, Travelport would like to advise you of the actions and solutions we are implementing in our GDS platforms from 20th December.

First - In order to avoid any surcharge from AA for existing bookings, we recommend ticketing on or before the close of business on 19th December.

Second - In the event that it is necessary for you to offer to book AA, Travelport has developed processes to provide fare displays and quotations that include this surcharge fee from AA so that the total cost of the AA ticket can be provided to your customer. In most of these cases, the surcharge fee can be automatically remitted to AA without the ADM process. In Europe, this is a legal requirement in order that Travelport complies with its display obligations under the CRS Code of Conduct Regulations.
• Surcharges Will Be Included in Price of AA Plated Tickets – The applicable AA surcharge fee will be inserted into the price of AA plated tickets only, generated as a miscellaneous tax (YY). AA will receive these funds automatically through the BSP airline settlement process.
The placement of the surcharge fee in the YY ticket tax box makes use of a standard industry process and there should be no impact to your current processes, including your back-office accounting and reporting. This also minimises the need for your agency to create exception processes. Your agency efficiency levels remain intact with no need for work-around processes, special agent training, etc.
• Surcharges Will Not Be Included in Price of Non-AA Plated Tickets – Should a ticket plated on another carrier contain one or more AA segments, the surcharge fee will be included in the shopped pricing, but will not be included in the Travelport generated ticket and an ADM will be issued by AA.
In order to cover anticipated surcharge fees from AA when tickets contain AA segments but are plated on another airline, it will be necessary for you to recognize that YY surcharge fees are not included and apply your own business process to incorporate the surcharge fee into the customer’s service charges.
Where you issue a ticket plated to a carrier other than AA but where there are flights operated by AA (codeshare), it is our understanding that the AA imposed surcharge fee will not apply. However, it is not entirely clear to us at this stage how AA plans to handle its codeshare arrangements.
For additional information on these solutions, please consult PA1115 in ASK Travelport.

Travelport believes the approach we have taken allows the true cost of booking AA to be shown at the point where the buying decision is made, so your customers can make an informed choice about which carrier to fly. Our intent is to deliver upon our commitment to a pro-competitive and pro-consumer marketplace where travellers and travel professionals can shop, compare, and buy travel in whichever channel they choose.

We regret any disruption caused to your business – disruption which we have sought to minimise as illustrated above – and we thank you and your colleagues around the world for the overwhelming support we have received for the position we are taking in this matter.

Best Regards,

Kurt Ekert
Chief Commercial Officer

80 Posts in 10 days - Can I do it?

The Professor is on a mission to complete my 2000th Post by the end of the year 2010.

So now my mission is 80 posts - that's an average of 8 a day for the next 10 days - allowing for some drinking and frivolity time.

I will of course try to keep them topical and on point. You can slam me if I don't

Topics are welcomed!!!


"Hello Earth to US DoJ and European Commission"

Er Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen - thank you for visiting planet earth today - I realize it is not often you get to chat to mere mortals - but today just might be one of those days.

I would like to draw your attention to something you might have forgotten or overlooked. As mere mortals some of those (of us) in the Republic of USA and the Kingdom of Europe think this is important and hope you will stop drinking the CoolAid long enough to pay attention to us.

I realize that way back when - I think it was in the 1990s - that you thought that Microsoft was bad for bundling the free web browser in with their operating systems called WINDOWS. Well we think that perhaps you might want to look at what Google is doing.

I am talking about the bundling by Google of their Internet (not ours) - with their products.

I submit that if you look carefully at what Google is doing and which parts of the World (formerly) Wide Web Google dominates.

Mobile advertising
Web Advertising

There are many more - but I would submit that any of Google's Bundling is probably illegal. At least it breaks the same rules that you prosecuted Microsoft so long and hard.

So I submit their latest effort

The Google Ce-48 Notebook as a reference platform for their next assault on our lives.

We thank you for your time and hope that you enjoy your next visit to our planet.

Hold That Thought... Frivolous Xmas Gifts - The Professor's Virtual Gift List

So in the interests of public safety and sanity - it is time to send things to your nearest and dearest.

So here is my Holiday Gift virtual List.

To Jeff Clarke @Travelport - The USB Aromatherapy System so he can chill out during the battle with AA

To Cory Gartner and the AA Jedi team - Yoda Desktop Protector so they can continue the battle with the afore named Travelport

To The Spanish Owners of BAA - The Pedestal Fan as they might be feeling a bit of heat right now.

To Both Sets of Lawyers in the AA/Travelport battle - The Paper Shredder so they can save the planet

To the Team @TNooz - the Missile launcher - so they can continue to report important facts and insight.

To Boeing and Rolls Royce - A joint gift, Boeing for the 787 and RR for the Trent 900 and 1000 engines - The Stress Ball may it soothe you.

To PJ and Cloud 12 PR - You need a new hobby - here it is the USB Garden

To My Mail Box - Because you are really starting to piss me off, the Message Light

To the Google Travel Team - Because you have to be a bunch of Aliens out to dominate the human race, The Alien.

To Jim Davidson and his Production team - The USB radio mic - so he can continue broadcasting those amusing ditties.

And to myself - the USB Powered Desk Slippers. Better than a Snugli!

If you want to send me a virtual gift - please do...

Happy Holidays everyone... more frivolity is coming your way over the next few days.


19 December 2010

Groupon+Flash Sales = Local Saviour?

Groupon is claiming to be the local small businesses' newest and best friend indeed savior so they claim. Indeed the growth of Groupon is explosive. And this is not just Groupon itself but all the Groupon Wannabees.

The growth of instant sales is also astonishing. Check out this chart from eMarketer.

The move to real time is one of my hot picks for 2011 (PLUG - The Professor's 2011 predictions will be due early this week).

But what no one is saying is where is this traffic coming from? I opine that there is no time left in anyone's calendar to take on more fire hose drinking. Therefore the switch TO something like these things have to be accompanied by a shift away from something else. I went to see if I could prove my point through GoogleTrends and Alexa. Not really but possibly. Check out for yourself (both images from Alexa for USAToday, Groupon, Craigslist and ebay).

A slightly different picture emerges when you look at search terms.

The long term effectiveness of these tools is going to be interesting. Personally I think the continued growth of community minded services will power the growth. IE a friend suggested using this particular groupon ad. ETC ETC

Happy Hunting

Extra Extra Read All About It - But Where?

So where do we get our news from.

Reliability of news delivery is very important especially with the persistent decline of the Newspaper industry. So just in time is a nice piece on where US readers go for their news.

Newspapers are a mere shadow of themselves and they are about to get another dose of a kicking.

Groupon will take more ad dollars away from them. First eBay, then Craig's List and now Groupon. Will they ever survive? And what when tablets become the major physical medium of choice which seems to be taking hold.

And then there are the bloggers who are now providing "news".

I really miss newspapers. I am not sure they can survive.

I really hope so


Damning The President with Feint Praise.

Its rare to see organizations being so blatant in sycophantically pouring lavish praise both where it is not warranted and inaccurately. Such is the situation over at the BTC who along with TCA is now joined by ASTA. For the Full PR statement go here:


Most political action efforts have a certain degree of puffery to them - but ASTA and CO have made this into an art form. While at the same time praising them for their leadership the 3 organizations seems to take the President and his Secretary of Transportation to task for not beating up on those bad airlines for charging ancillary fees.

This represents a very big switch in the 3 Wise Whiners where previously they were saying they supported the airlines' right to charge these fees now the gloves are off and they are slamming the fees.

And this is where the puffery starts to really come out. So let's play the game with some of their statements:

On the nasty surprise at the airport that is more than the cost of the airfare:

"....that can sometimes double the cost of an airfare upon arrival at the airport"

On the exclusive providers of GDS as ticketing systems:

"....it should require airlines to make all of their ancillary fee information, such as checked bag fees, easily accessible through online and offline travel agencies via the major reservations systems that power those ticketing systems"

On the airlines dastardly plan to undermine the economic health of the USA

"... eliminate the increasing financial burden inflicted upon consumers each and every additional day"

I think you get the message.

But in the interests of full disclosure - I publish the whole document for your edification. As you know I have a motivation to expose some of these outlandish comments, because I can. And I still maintain it is the airlines right to do what they will. It is also poppycock to say that the GDSs should be the exclusive provider of the information. The information is readily available to everyone and disclosure already exists.

What next?

Charging a penalty if you don't disclose the fees on your ballpark tickets forcing all ticket fees to be exposed in say - Ticketmaster. Wait Ticketmaster is already a monopoly in many cases so scratch that example.....

However I checked with all three organizations:

ASTA, BTC and CTA and only found that CTA (which is 3 people) actually put the text out on their website.


ASTA does not

BTC doesn't have anything newer than 2008.

It somewhat makes you wonder how committed ASTA and BTC is to this form of questionable PR.


AA vs Travelport to End Soon? Don't Count On It.

The UK publication ABTN reported in its December 16th edition that the dispute could end soon.

I have to say I am VERY skeptical that this is going to happen.

Still worth a read from the International perspective



Free In Flight Wifi - Now Through Jan 2nd - Not Quite

Google announced they were giving away free wifi onboard airlines. But read the fine print.

Not all airlines.

AA, UA, AS, CO did get it.

Only DL, FL and VX.

You might want to change that flight....


2010 The Year Of The Mobile? Nah.....

Many people touted 2010 as the year of the mobile. I have been a naysayer not because I dont want mobile to take off - I REALLY DO. And we are seeing traction coming but the pivotal year will be 2011. Even then the extent of Mobile Commerce will be limited.

A study by Accenture this year shows that the early adopters are still scrounging for deals and coupons in the hope of getting something cheaper or a hidden value. They are prepared to jump through the poor User Experience in order to get to a deal of something. It seems that we have Pavlovian influences at work.

This is clearly illustrated by this chart from eMarketer:

In my view the utility of the various mobile apps for searching and shopping particularly in travel have a long way to go. Hardly any of them offer a compelling reason to use them. Thus the deal or a special offer is still the only way to artificially drive interest to the application in the possibly mistaken belief that this will translate into permanent use and loyalty.

Anyone who is banking on that needs to take caution. Don't believe your own BS.

Where I do believe there is an opportunity - and one my team is working on hard - is a mobile friendly ecommerce suite of services that can leverage the current deal hunters as well as providing tools to make that engagement via the mobile device a sustainable long term service.


With thanks to Car Cabinet for their image.

787. Oh When Will It Get Better?

There is no need to pour more fuel on the Boeing 787 woes. it has a lot of them. The frequency and the amount of rework is beginning to pile up. I think on an early post I opined that Boeing will probably have to throw away a few samples. At the moment there are 20 aircraft in some stage of final or completion. This is in addition to the 6 test articles.

The 6 test articles in my view will never see conventional revenue service. Of the other 20 there is so much to do that Boeing has halted the flow new production elements from its vast and now very complicated supply chain. In the end this is the perfect storm of bad design, poor quality and bad supply chain management. Fixing the issues are not as easy when you have an integrated complex set of services coming to an aircraft manufacturer who has only done this on a limited scale before.

Current Estimates of the rework items from the Seattle Times are just under 150,000.

I suggest you read the article to get a sense of the depth of the issues. It is pretty much across the board.

If we run some math on it - let's say that on average each rework takes a day. That would require about 9 years and 3 months of one person working full out @2000 hours a year. But the tasks are both likely to be longer to fix and the skills are in short supply in some of the critical areas. So again - humour my weird maths, lets say there are 500 guys who can work on this effort and they have about 25 hours a week to focus on this. That represents a 12 week, 3 month effort to get these poor puppies out the door. In my view therefore based on the current known issues Boeing is looking at a 6 month delay to right the issues - addressing the fixes so that new and corrected production quality items start arriving at the 787 line in Everett. Couple that with another attempt at a rolling start to production and that means we are looking for few if any deliveries in 2011.

Remember how last year we were hoping that Boeing would get a symbolic single copy delivered to ANA.

Boeing just needs to take the time and get it right. The curve just moves to the left.

US Formally Launches Web Bill Of Rights Effort


The US Department of Commerce and its enforcement agency the FTC – Federal Trade Commission – have come out with a report recommending a formal policy of self regulation in online privacy.

Personally I don’t think their solution didn’t go far enough.

Anyway check out the WSJ on this.


Google's Woes Deepen

Google seems to have upset a few folks along the way.

In the past I have been quite vociferous that I think Google’s behavior has stepped outside of the normal realm of commercial norms. I have found it difficult to sound anything but a whiner on the subject. The logic of Google’s practices give me a strong case of queasiness.

Well it seems that the simplistic approach that the US law takes to competition may work for Google there but not the Europeans most major media outlets are reporting the details. Google has now clearly got themselves in the same set of sights that cost Microsoft a few years ago and cost it indeed it did. Try several billion dollars. So now the European Commission has taken over the investigation into Google on at least two specific topics. It has assumed control from the German anti competitive agency. It is likely to also take on some that have been undertaken by the Brits. But its not quite what you think. I would have thought the privacy issues would have been the early thing that the Commission would have jumped on. Nope – its competition. And here too its very interesting.

1. Mapping – the EC has charged that Microsoft’s use of its mapping and giving it away has hurt different players in the market. As a result the company has harmed those who charge for mapping products. The logic is not unlike that of anti-dumping laws.
2. The Association of Newspapers in Germany has argued that Google is not just a search engine but a content provider in its own right. As such it is competing unfairly with newspapers and further manipulating the rankings accordingly.

The penalties for these offenses are pretty stiff as they are charged on a per instance which could be interpreted as every time someone served up a Google Map it committed the offense.

This is going to last a long time. So Google Acolytes – get used to the scrutiny. Its going to be tough