August 2009


The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation had a stab last week at putting together a summary of what various airlines are doing with social media. Not a bad summary, but very light on insight, which is normally their strongpoint. There was one thing that caught my attention.

Another carrier using social networking sites to attract specific target markets is Scandinavian Airlines, which established a website dedicated to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender/transsexual community

I take a keen interest in what airlines are doing with social media, but this information on SAS was totally new to me. Well, maybe not really that surprising I hadn’t heard about it as I’m hardly in the target market.

One airline that is getting itself a decent reputation (I haven’t flown them, so it is all second hand), is Alaska Airlines.  I was very surprised today to see on their Connect with us through social media page; apart from mentioning the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, they also linked to Flyertalk. Very brave move, as those pages can be brutal sometimes in their critique of an airline. But social media is big on transparency, and at least Alaska seem to understand that part. And whilst on the topic of airlines understanding social media, here is a dicussion at Lifehacker related to Qantas cross browser support from July. Nicole Leeson who I recall meeting once, but whom I’ve probably only spoken to for a sum total of one minute, quietly gives a factual answer to try and bring rationality to what was becoming a somewhat emotional debate (people do get very passionate about their preferred browser).

The best airlines in social media are not necessarily the ones with the most followers on Twitter.

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I imagine after this week’s big news a lot of US based people with good airline IT knowledge will be applying to HP for their next job, but here is a different opportunity that might interest some people reading this. I got the idea to write this post after seeing an excellent blog post a few days ago seeking the next social media analyst for Forrester. The economy is far from great and companies are cutting back everywhere, but even with hiring freezes and the like, there are still some jobs available; but they are certainly much harder to find and employers will make applicants jump through many more hoops before making an offer these days. I’ve got no idea if the last time I mentioned a job opening in this blog whether I had any impact or not, but this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned an opening at Amadeus.

I am based in Spain, but I work very closely with my Amadeus colleagues in the United States, and they are currently seeking someone with a very specific set of skills. Even though the job reports into the US, the sucessful candidate will spend a lot of time supporting me on new and existing airline customers.Therefore I have a strong vested interest in seeing that a good person is hired. 

Here are what I see as the essential prerequisites for this job 

  1. Ability to relocate within the United States
  2. Excellent knowledge of how an airline operates – airline work experience strongly preferred
  3. Good knowledge of central system functionality and commands – ideally multi GDS
  4. Creative problem solving skills using IT
  5. Comfortable hosting airline workshops and dealing face to face with airline clients
  6. Flexible to travel frequently, often internationally.

And some nice to haves

  1. Enjoy writing detailed requirements documents (this rules me out!)
  2. Enjoy working closely with software developers
  3. Comfortable working with various technologies
  4. Doesn’t mind working with Australians (meaning both me, and two of my airline customers)

When I first started the wish list above it only had three items, but the more I thought about it, the list kept growing. If I had waited another day to post I’ve got no idea how much longer it would have grown. 

If you are interested in this job, please use the Contact form on this blog and it will come directly to me. You can’t attach documents, but all I need now is some detailed text outlining how you meet each of the points above. I’ll try and reply to each enquiry (except those clearly not answering or meeting the essential prerequisites). Finally, please don’t leave personal information in the comments section!

Be aware that I am not not the final decision maker, but obviously a recommendation from me for this role will carry a fair amount of weight. Any interested person meeting the prereqisites will most probably have a phone call with me first before a full CV is requested that I can pass on to my US colleagues. I know the prerequisites above will rule out a lot of interested and otherwise talented people, so I’m not expected a flood of interest, but I’ve love to get one or two names to recommend for an interview.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize the name Ponder Harrison. He is the Managing Director – Sales & Marketing, at Las Vegas based LCC, Allegiant. He has just resigned his post, but given his large role in Alegiant’s massively successful ancillary revenue efforts, he has been retained by the airline as a non executive consultant.

Ponder Harrison has given me plently of good content over previous months, such as this quote implying a relationship between ancillary revenue and revenue management. I’m sure his services will be in demand from other airlines if he chooses to consult more widely.

Bigger news this week came from US carriers adding checked bag fees on international flights, but the really big news came yesterday from Amercian Airlines parent AMR announcing they has signed with HP to develop a new PSS. Below is the best quote I saw on this story.

“This is big news,” said Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst with Forrester Research Inc. “What American is doing is the equivalent of a brain transplant, heart transplant and a lot of plastic surgery, all simultaneously.”

The same Chicago Tribune article also contained another very interesting piece of news I’d missed whilst on vacation.

Air Canada earlier this month announced that it was suspending work on Polaris, a new reservation system developed by ITA Software that was running about two years behind schedule.

Anyone remember aiRES? But then again, I work for a competitor, so be sure to add your own healthy dose of skepticism to my views.

After enjoying a great Summer holiday in New York and Connecticut I’m finally back at work. I had mentioned before I left that if the weather was bad I might write the occassional post – well, the weather was just perfect, with only a small amount of rain on a couple of days. So this is the first post in a long time.

When I started the blog I said I’d reassess it in 12 months, and I’m only just over half way there. I’m enjoying writing it, and getting some good feedback from people in the industry, but starting today my job now includes responsibility for more products and also the employees selling these products (more on that in coming days). Therefore the narrow focus I have had to date on this blog regarding innovation and ancillary revenue in direct channels might change to better reflect the wider range of topics I will be dealing with. I haven’t made up my mind on that yet, as one risk is if the blog becomes too general it ends up as just another one of the scores of airline blogs already out there.

One thing is pretty clear – in the coming weeks the frequency of posts will almost certainly drop from my pre-vacation rate; at least until I get back on top of things after such a good break.