Congratulations to Star Alliance for launching an around the world booking engine. And also to Qatar who have just announced online redemptions with a one month availability display. 

Before getting onto the main topic of around the world fares, I was looking at something on Qatar, and saw this link about the airline. I’ve never before seen a page that fades when you start reading it and then prompts you to sign up in order to continue. Very annoying, but probably also very effective.

I’m never sure whether to use the phrase around or round the world, but internally we always used the abbreviation RTW. One thing I am absolutely sure about is that is that these round the world booking web sites are a major achievement. The itinerary planning screens at the front end are built by Innovata and the booking engine is Amadeus e-Retail. I wasn’t involved with Star, but I do recall sitting in the oneworld head office in Vancouver a few years ago and negotiating the contract on their round the world booking engine, with Steve Brown from Innovata sitting next to me. If ever there was a case of the sales guys leaving all the heavy lifting to the implemetation team, this would have to be it, as the complexity in getting one of these sites into production cannot be understated.

I recall being exposed to the arcane world of pricing by fare basis, fare and class combinability, segment limitations, and so many other rules and concepts that are normally best left to the experts in product definition and development. Planning these trips is not neccessarily the hard part, but combining it with the ability to actually book the trip online is the real technological advance; to my knowledge only oneworld and Star have this ability on their website. When you think how long it takes an agent to make one of these bookings, plus the number of calls/visits that don’t result in a sale, then the ability to make these fares available for sale online has the potential for a very large efficiency dividend.

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