Friday, November 23, 2007

Automatic rebooking and other useful airline tools

Ignore the headline in this article. It's actually about useful airline tools like automatic rebooking, and not about those useless text message alerts that a flight is going to be delayed that arrive on your cell phone 2 hours after the flight was scheduled for departure. Orbitz seems to be leading the way:

Lockhart, it turns out, is a "care specialist" at Orbitz, a big online travel agency you may think of as just a place to score cheap flights. But with flight delays and airport hassles reaching epic proportions, few travel companies can afford not to guide frustrated customers through their travel problems. At its Chicago headquarters, Orbitz has created a command center staffed by a determined team of former air-traffic controllers, travel agents and even pilots, all focused on freeing folks from airport purgatory. On this day Lockhart, a travel agent for more than two decades, runs up a good tally: 19 of her 24 travelers will get rebooked. "This is my favorite part of the job," she says, after unstranding one more.
Now that is something really useful! No more waiting in line or on hold to rebook canceled flights. This alone is a reason to choose Orbitz over other flight booking options.

Other new services are mentioned in the article, such as Travelocity's reconfirming of hotel rooms before the customer arrives, but none seem as useful as Orbitz's automatic rebooking.