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How Do Airlines Sell Their Plane Tickets?

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There are so many working parts of the world in which we live that function on the periphery of our daily lives, that is, until the exact moment we desperately need to understand what is going on. One such example of this is how airlines work. Specifically, when you need to purchase a reasonably priced flight to somewhere you need to go, you immediately wish that you knew how airline ticket sales functioned. If you have ever considered learning about this, now is the time! Here is a brief explanation of how airlines sell their plane tickets.

In the Beginnings
Airlines and air travel have not been around for all that long but have gone through a lot of metamorphosis throughout that time. The first official commercial airline flight happened in the year 1914, and things have been moving quickly ever since. Flight reservations used to happen through a local travel agent and were booked by hand. Airlines had to do some sales prospecting through their travel agents, but that was about as intense as marketing got aside from advertisements. Everything was written down, and the government actually controlled prices. Things were not very complex during this time, but they were very simple and easy.

The Age of the Computer
Then came the crazy invention of the computer. Airlines soon realized that they could create their own reservation systems on the computer with built-in bias. These systems were known as 'CRS' or computerized reservation systems. Singular airlines would create their own proprietary CRS which they would then have travel agents use to book flights for people. Of course, these systems would have built-in programming backdoors wherein the airline that created the program would have an advantageous chance at getting their seats sold before other airlines present in their program. Eventually, this was outlawed by the government.

Program Evolution
As everyone knows, computers changed everything everywhere. Airline ticket sales were no different. Things began to morph and change, always with the intention of airlines wanting to have the upper hand over other airlines with similar flights. At the end of the day, airlines are businesses and their goal is to make as much money as possible! The CRS systems began to get too much negative attention and the systems transformed. Eventually, the CRS transformed into something known as GDS, or, global distribution system. GDS would utilize travel agents, and eventually online travel agents, as an intermediary to their customers. The customers would request flights, the travel agents would provide information to the GDS, and the GDS would give that information to airlines. The airlines then would book customer tickets in 'buckets,' an industry term that simply meant a large number all at once. This allowed GDS to make a large chunk of change off of every sale in return for their services. This all happened prior to the internet too!

Enter the Internet
As with everything else in businesses, airlines were also greatly changed by the rise of the internet. GCSes are still used today, but there is a very large section of the ticket marketplace that is now cornered by websites which were created by airlines and online travel agencies. These websites have things called cookies that can track each customer's movements across different platforms, thus providing the website with more information to provide adequate options and offers. If you utilize an incognito browser and shop for tickets, you may notice a steep price drop and more options than when you shop for tickets on the very same website using a browser that allows cookies.

All of the Advances
In the twenty-first century, airlines have amalgamated all they have learned as businesses through the decades and now do what they can to serve their customers while still making as much profit as they can. From the handwritten days to the internet days there have been a lot of changes. There are sure to be more changes as the years go on. As a customer, the best thing you can do is pay attention and understand the processes to make sure you make the best decision possible!

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