Wednesday, April 07, 2010

When Will Airlines Grasp That The Airport Isn’t The Destination?

You’d expect that by at least say, 15 years ago, airlines would have figured this one out…but their websites and those of resellers, are still organized as though passengers actually fly to get to airports.  We all know and they should too that people fly to places, almost always cities and towns or their environs.  Airports are just “a portal” along the way.Capture

By now, you’d expect the searchable databases behind airline booking engines to be populated with the names of every town and city of say, 5,000 or 10,000 people.  It is very easy to buy lists and airports should be able to help tag those in their “catchment” areas or easier yet, just load distances, so any and all airports come up in say a 100 mile radius.

That way, say you’re traveling to Olympia, WA, that state’s capital, you’d type in Olympia or Lacey or Tumwater for that matter and up would come a list of airports through which you could get to your destination.

This way you wouldn’t need to have prior knowledge that the airport many airlines refer to as “Seattle,” some 60 miles north from Olympia, really isn’t in Seattle at all but midway between there and Tacoma and much closer to Olympia.

The database could also bring up the airport near Portland, OR as an option and only 40 miles further away  from Olympia than Seattle is and on most days and times of day, the traffic is easier from Portland to Olympia than it is from Seattle, making the additional distance very worthwhile.

Instead, the airline booking engines almost always still require that you already know the airport through which you’d travel or that would be most convenient.  Maybe you do and maybe you don’t but most other websites now don’t require you to go to that trouble or have prior knowledge.

It is getting better for places like Durham which is the core of a metro area and co-owns its own airport.   In many cases now, instead of having to know that Raleigh, a separate city and metro area altogether is the first name of the airport co-owned with Durham, you can now type in Durham and up will pop RDU Airport.

Until recently you had to know to look under the “R’s” in an alpha ordered list to find Durham which any school kid knows should be in the “D’s.”

Smart people work on airline websites and they’ve probably been trying to get management to move into this Internet age for sometime.  But there are possibly a lot of higher ups in airline management who are either very slow to change or so self-absorbed, they actually beleive the airport is our final destination.

As lovely as they can now be, in this day and age, few if any passergers exist who are eager to spend more time at the airport.  You get there when you must for takeoff and on landing, you grab your bags and get on the road as quickly as you can….to where?…Youre actual destination.

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