Creating a better fare search engine than bing.com

An interesting point was raised on an aviation group on linkedin.com, regarding an airline charging fees for carry-on luggage. As airlines, especially low cost carriers, consider moving towards the lowest fares possible by removing every possible extra for the passenger, we come into a problem of how do we find a fare that meets the requirements of the customer?

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/mykreeve/133074711/

Tourist Ben

If we consider our tourist persona, Ben, this is a guy who has some specific requirements for a fare:

  • He wants a fare that includes himself (obviously);
  • He wants a fare that accommodates his backpack of 22kg;
  • He wants a fare that accommodates his carry on bag of 7kg;
  • He wants a fare that accommodates his guitar;
  • He wants a personal entertainment system where possible;
  • He prefers a window seat.

What we’ve done is more clearly defined the requirements of Ben in terms of fares he’s searching for. By more clearly defining these requirements, we could do a more powerful search that actually meets more of those requirements, than just finding the initially cheapest fare available, but could actually turn out to be the least suitable fare for Ben once all those other requirements have been taken into account.

To summarise, as airlines strip away functions of a fare to the bare minimum, fare search engines have failed to take into account this, and are often just searching for the cheapest minimum fare, without taking into account a passenger’s actual requirements.