Archive for January 30, 2015

The Boarding Process Examined

This week I am going more the op-ed route and expressing my opinion (like I don’t already) rather than providing factual insight into the travel industry. For any of you that have traveled extensively and can’t afford the business or first class treatment, boarding is a grueling processes.  In the US, a domestic route almost always involves an infuriating boarding process. Now much of this can be blamed on the airlines. With the institution of checked baggage fees the mission of many passengers is to see how much they can stuff into their suitcase, get it passed the gate agents and slam it into the overhead bin. It is quite frankly astonishing what people think is an allowable size for a carry on these days. I have been on very few domestic flights over the past few years where I haven’t had to assist someone lift their bag into the bin because they got a little over zealous with their bag size. In some respects the passengers are to blame but I get the mind-set, you never know if you will need that pair of fancy clubbing shoes when your on a remote beach in Panama, I get it. I try to travel light to avoid such situations but we can’t all be great travelers.

Photo Credit: Cathryn Jakobson Ramin.

Photo Credit: Cathryn Jakobson Ramin.

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tripchi airport app newsletter – Jan 2015

Keep calm and travel on with the tripchi airport app in 2015!

Jan 2015, New Year Edition

The New Year has just begun, and tripchi is excited to bring you new airport and travel hacking tips, as well as new airport coverage in our airport app in 2015.

In fact, we’ve added Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to our list of airports covered in our airport app. Next up? Denver International Airport. Shoot us a note if you’re in either PIT or DEN, because we’d love your feed feedback on the tripchi airport app.

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Ryanair Beats Back Screen Scrapers

Ryanair was back in the news last week but it had nothing to do with angry passengers or their 737’s landing at the wrong airport. They brought a suit against a Dutch screen scraper website called PR Aviation. In a role reversal of sorts, Ryanair found itself on the defensive, instead of being the aggressor, a role they are very comfortable in. In the world of big data, screen scraping can be a useful tactic and is utilized  by many companies in the travel world. But what exactly is screen scrapping.

Micheal Oleary

Screen Scraping Defined

Screen scraping as defined by Wikipedia “is a technique in which a computer program extracts data from human-readable output coming from another program.” Basically it is a way of taping into a company’s databases without a direct feed. Screen scraping is viewed by many as a legitimate technique to translate screen data from one application to another. Sometimes it can mean the use of manual or automatic means to harvest content from a website without the approval of the website owner. It can be illegal even though it’s widely viewed as legit technique of data mining.

Ryanair Case

The case was brought forward by Ryanair to the EU Court Of Justice. PR Aviation is defending their right to screen scrape Ryanair’s website. The Court of Justice, in a referral from the Dutch Supreme Court, was asked to determine whether owners of an online database such as Ryanair’s can use contractual restrictions to prevent the copying or use of their databases. The European Commission supported Ryanair’s argument that it is entitled to post terms and conditions on its website that prevent PR Aviation, which runs FlyLowCost.com from screen scraping its database and using it for commercial purposes.

ryanair screen scrape

A Ryanair spokesman said: “Ryanair welcomes the EU Court of Justice ruling which confirms that Ryanair can prevent PR Aviation from screen scraping the Ryanair database and using this information for commercial purposes.” Ryanair is clearly very protective of their data and determined to keep online travel companies from accessing it without proper authority.

Ryanair Screen Scrape Policy
Ryanair screen scrape

Scraping Bad or Good for Travel Industry?

The jury is still out and a case can be made for both sides. From the view of Ryanair, screen scraping is bad because their prices for flights are being scraped, giving a competitor an intelligence advantage. Travel companies can collect Ryanairs flights for resale without their consent. Screen scraping can also be time-consuming and expensive to thwart. This is probably why Ryanair, who is extremely protective of their data and one of the few airlines profitable enough to really go after the scrapers.

Big Data

On the flip side screen scrapers can be a good thing for an airline. Flight statistic companies can scrape an airlines website for schedule and on time performance data. Then use this data to compile flight status notifications and on time reports. If your airline is consistent and runs an on time operation, these reports can create notoriety for the airline. People would rather fly an on time airline than one that is unreliable.

Metasearch company Hipmunk have also been known to be a screen scraper, as they have admitted to the practice. Once a flight search company have scraped enough data and have enough traffic driven to the site they can then go out and partner with a online travel agent. Screen scraping is valuable for metasearchs because without gathering the proper data getting a decision maker at a major travel supplier on the phone is not easy. Finding legitimate channels to acquire supplier data is never easy and can be costly and time consuming, resulting in lost revenue.

What do you think? Should screen scraping be allowed? Time will tell if other airlines join forces to beat back the scrapers and protect their data.

 

Best Airport Fitness

We’re all trying to lose that holiday weight – you know, from the extra Christmas mashed potatoes, that scoop of ice cream on the scrumptious pumpkin pie, and the second helping of fruitcake. Or maybe from that awesome round-the-world New Year’s Eve double-airport celebration. But it’s such a busy time of year, and with business travel ramping up, it’s hard to eat healthy and workout while traveling. That’s why we’ve rolled up the best airport fitness facilities, so that you can have your travel, and workout too!

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AirAsia CEO Handles Tragedy With Leadership

Many times in 2014 airlines were in the news for all the wrong reasons. In the airline business customers are quick to throw stones when airlines mess up and reluctant to applaud you for a job well done. I think many passengers forget how difficult it is to run an airline, not to mention make it profitable. Malaysian Airlines was constantly in the news it seemed for the crash of MH370 and the downing of MH17.

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Denver Airport Gift Giving

Throughout the month of December, tripchi covered airport holiday celebrations, a special double-dose of an airport New Year’s Eve, and holiday flying freebies (including a mention of Denver Airport gift giving promotion). Since Seth only scratched the surface on coverage of the Denver Airport holiday promotion, I thought I’d do a more in-depth review based on my first-hand travel experience through the Denver Airport over Christmas – and highlight the Denver Airport gift giving promotion.

On December 23rd I traveled through the Denver Airport, en route to spending Christmas in Los Angeles with my parents. LAX Airport is never anything to write about, but – as usual – Denver Airport did not disappoint. As we’ve mentioned before, Denver Airport is a great airport for several reasons  – it’s like a mall, with shops and restaurants we actually enjoy; it’s easy to navigate, with a fast train connecting the terminals; and, it does a great job representing the local culture of Denver and a Western theme. Other than the fact that it’s located out in the boonies, and is hard to reach from the city, I always enjoy traveling out of DEN. My two big Denver Airport transportation tips for those coming in from the city to the airport – either park at the The Parking Spot and shuttle it in, or book a Super Shuttle (depending on how long you’re staying).

Christmas was no exception, and despite the busy time of year, I was in an out of security in no time thanks to my Pre-Check membership. So, I was able to spend a few hours photographing and exploring Terminals B and C before my flight boarded in Terminal B (the United Terminal).

Denver Airport Terminal C

Denver Airport Terminal C

At any given time, there is at least one promotion going on at Denver Airport – for example, the win a motorcycle on display in Terminal C.

Win a Motorcycle at Denver Airport

Win a Motorcycle at Denver Airport

But because this was the holiday season, Denver Airport had a little something extra special in store for its guests – in the form of free prizes for guests that spent money at airport concessions (one of the things our loyalty program recommends, incidentally).

As I usually get to airports several hours before my flight to do some sleuthing, I had ample time to check out the Denver Airport gift giving promotion across several terminals.

I found that at each terminal, near the entrance to the train and central shopping areas, there was a small kiosk manned by a festively dressed elf, beside an over-sized Christmas present. There were also markings on the floor with arrows leaving a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb-like trail towards the Denver Airport gift promotion.

Denver Airport Gift Promotion Floor Signage

Denver Airport Gift Promotion Floor Signage

Every time I walked by the kiosk in each of the three terminals, there were passengers waiting in line to chat with the elf. Here’s a view of the kiosk located at the escalator entrance from the train in Terminal C:

Denver Airport Gift Promotion - Terminal C

Denver Airport Gift Promotion – Terminal C

By the time I made it to Terminal B, I decided to try out the promotion first-hand.  Thanks to the signage on the floor (and Seth’s previous blog), I already knew what I had to do. The first step in the process was spending at least $20 at airport stores and restaurants. That could mean a quick neck and shoulders massage at XpresSpa, a souvenir at Spirit of the Red Horse, or, in my case, a meal to carry on-board my flight. As long as the total amount I spent was $20 combined (across any and all vendors), I would qualify for the Denver Airport gift giving promotion.

I was feeling like Mexican food, so I headed over to Que Bueno, nearby my gate in Terminal B. I only had a few minutes to spare before my flight – I was really cutting it down to the wire, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to cover the Denver Airport gift promotion for our tripchi readers!

I ordered a burrito with some chips, guacamole, and threw in a drink, putting the grand total just above $20.

Que Bueno Receipt for Denver Airport Gift Promotion

Que Bueno Receipt for Denver Airport Gift Promotion

Then, I raced over to the Denver Airport gift kiosk at Terminal B – again, near the top of the escalator leading to the trains, next to Spirit of the Red Horse.

Denver Airport gift promotion - Terminal B

Denver Airport gift promotion – Terminal B

The magic hipster elf at the Denver Airport gift promotion counter explained the rules to me again when I asked him what it was all about. He said that if I showed receipts totaling $20 or more, I could reach into his stocking of goodies to  pull out a price (the red stocking on the table to the right). I showed him my receipt, which he marked with an “X” (so that I couldn’t enter again), and he presented the stocking to me to draw from.

The prize I drew was in the lowest tier of prizes – basically one of the knick-knacks on the upper counter towards the right in the picture. There were better prizes, such as gift cards to any of the airport vendors, but alas that was not my destiny. For me, there was a choice of magnets, a Airport branded sippy cup, some Mrs. Fields cookies, and various other tchotchkes (yes, this is how this word is actually spelled!). Can you guess what I picked?

Denver Airport gift prize

Denver Airport gift prize

Which make a delicious dessert after my scrumptious burrito on the plane.

Thanks Denver Airport for spreading holiday cheer throughout your airport. I hope you do it again next year!

iBeacon’s Improve Pax Experience in 2015

As we leave 2014 in the dust, its time to look ahead to whats on tap for 2015 in terms of airport tech. As I previously discussed in my Bluetooth tech blog, iBeacons have already started to enter some airports. This is a big deal because now airports and app’s like tripchi can easily connect with passengers that have Bluetooth enabled smartphones. With the vast amount of the traveling public, especially business travelers being smartphone and tech savvy, converting these passengers into revenue is a high priority for the airports.

beacon-airport

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PIT Airport not the Pits

Our 5th airport to build out for the tripchi airport mobile app is PIT Airport (Pittsburgh International Airport). It was kind of a spontaneous airport to decide to include, but we had the fortune of taking an extended layover through PIT Airport on the way back from IAD Airport (Washington-Dulles International Airport) in early Dec 2014. And we liked it so much from the perspective of an Airport 2.0, mall-like, content-driven concept, that we thought PIT Airport would be another interesting regional airport offering to include in the app (mobile website currently available here).

PIT Airport

PIT Airport

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2014 Flights In Review

It’s been a fun year of travel for me. This was one of my best years for international travel mainly due to the fact I spent much of the year in Cape Town, South Africa tagging along while my girlfriend was getting a graduate degree at the University of Cape Town. Many of the flights were very long so I was able to experience new long hauls airline offerings. I also had many long layovers, mainly in the Middle East. As I like to do every year, I compile all my flight legs, new airlines, miles flown, new destinations and new aircraft. Then I like to crown a winner in the destination, airline and aircraft division. It’s fun to look back at the end of the year and revisit all your experiences. It also gives you a chance to get excited for the future. Where will you go in 2015? Read more

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