The airlines have found new and innovative ways to charge for special perks and ancillary services. Booking fees, baggage charges, even onboard purchase of drinks and meals in many instances. Advanced seat selection has been offered by the airline for quite some time and many airlines have even found innovative ways to charge additional fees to reserve the best seats. In many cases the amount of the additional fee will vary depending upon the where a specific seat is located within the cabin. Do you like to reserve that aisle seat in the forward part of the cabin? Be prepared to pay an additional fee. Except of course for the most loyal frequent flyer program members who are often given access to newly invented perks like “preferred seating” and can reserve these seats free of charge!
There was a time not too long ago when it was mainly frequent flyers who thought about things like advance seat selection or reserving an onboard meal. As more and more of the world’s population travels more frequently, access to these ancillary services are now important to most customers and critical features for any flight booking engine to provide.
The airlines were early adopters of customer loyalty programs and have tried to cater to their best customers by providing special perks. Dedicated customer service lines to call, waiver of certain fees and complimentary upgrades to First class are all benefits airlines offer. Your flight booking engine needs to be able to capture and share a customer’s loyalty program information to not only ensure individual customer loyalty programs are credited, but so that a customer receives the onboard service perks they are entitled to.
The importance of how these airline perks and ancillary charges influence a customer’s individual experience became very apparent to me during a recent trip. I was travelling to a destination that my regular airline did not offer the best schedule to. I decided to try a different carrier since it offered the only non stop flight and the schedule worked well with mine. Booking my flight online was quick and easy and I received what I thought was a decent fare.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the airport when I started to notice a real difference. It started with a long line at the ticket counter. I decided to carry my bag with me rather than pay the airline to check a bag. I thought to myself, priority access does make a difference, shorter lines and waived baggage fees.
When I got to the departure gate, I noticed I was in Boarding Group 6, one of the last groups to be called. I thought to myself, will there be room for my carry on bag? Once on board I made my way to my middle seat since the flight booking engine I was using did not give me the option to reserve a better seat in advance. Something I would have been more than happy to pay extra for if the airline reservation system I was using gave me the option to.
Finding a travel booking engine with the right combination of features can have a big influence on an individual customer’s overall travel experience and therefore critical to the success of any travel business. Finding the right technology partner is a good first step.