Today I had my first encountered with the latest “innovation” in airline revenue management, journey logic.
Journey logic, or married segmnets, comes in to play most frequently when trying to book complex itineraries. Airfare is identified by a set of codes, i.e. VPEE02, BLAXP, or YLE. Each code, or fare basis, combined with an origin/destination pair, correlates to a set of rules and a price in the reservations system. At the same time, the number of seats available on a given flight on any day is maintained by looking only at the first letter of the fare basis code. So if I were looking to buy airfare using the VPEE02 fare basis code, I would need to find flights that had seats available in the “V” fare class. Using some clever tools that exist on the Internet, I can query the global reservations systems to check for just that kind of info. And putting the two data sets together I can determine what flights are likely to price at a given point, or what flights have upgrade seats available, even before I go to buy anything.
Still with me?
Journey logic throws a wrench in the works. Journey logic says that if you’re connecting on an intinerary such as Newark (EWR) to Minneapolis (MSP) to Portland (PDX) to Tokyo (NRT) to Bangkok (BKK), and you want to upgrade any available segments, the routing EWR-BKK has to say that it’s allowed. If there are upgrade seats available on the segment PDX-NRT, but not on EWR-BKK, even though PDX-NRT is a subset of EWR-BKK, you can’t upgrade.
Sound difficult? Basically journey logic throws out the availability in the middle and only looks at availability from the true origin city to the final destination. Any flights that have availability in the middle essentially become irrelevant, and you can’t upgrade.
The same thing can happen if you’re trying to book a cheap airfare. Say there was a sale on flights from EWR-San Francisco (SFO), with a fare basis KLXVR2. Flights were available at a cost of $200, but you have to connect in MSP. You go try to book the flight, but it keeps pricing at $325 with a fare basis code of QWLXSP. So you go check to see if any seats are available on each segment in “K” class, and what do you know, EWR-MSP is showing K7 and MSP-SFO is showing K5. But with journey logic, EWR-SFO is at K0, so there are no seats available.
In the end, after two phone calls and several hours of hammering away at the website, I did get my ticket, EWR-MSP-PDX-NRT-BKK-NRT-LAX-MSP-EWR booked, with every segment except BKK-NRT in business class. So it looks like I won this battle against journey logic, even if I did deliver a self-inflicted wound by putting it on the wrong credit card.