April 5, 2010

An update on our new reservations system

A couple of months have passed since we switched to our new reservations system and- in efforts to be as transparent as possible with you- we wanted to reach out to tell you where we are with things.

Switching reservations systems isn’t like changing a light bulb, and it’s not as simple as a flipped switch. The process is so intricate and complicated, in fact, that some airlines never recover from the transition if they don’t plan properly. Others take many months or even years to convert systems entirely before they can begin to truly benefit from features the new system offers.

We are proud to say that our extensive planning and forward thinking is paying off, and our transition efforts have gone more smoothly than could have been expected. We are already seeing new opportunities open up because of the new functionality- our recent interline agreement with American, for instance, which will allow our Customers to travel more seamlessly to more destinations around the globe is just one example. Looking to the future could very well see us playing nice with even more airlines.

It stands to be said, though, that in a way, our transition to Sabre is still underway as our Crewmembers ramp up their expertise more and more each day ; that this is a months-long process. This is an expected part of our plan- and has been moving along more swiftly than anticipated- but We do know that it has been frustrating for some of you who have been faced with long hold times on the phone in order to make making changes to existing reservations or book using TrueBlue points or certificates. We also recognize the frustrations of having to now call in for some of the things you used to be able to do online – like viewing available seats when using “old” TrueBlue awards.

We continue to work to keep our average hold times down, and are actually quite successful. The longer hold times our Customers see generally come if we need to cancel flights due to the unprecedented weather we’ve seen in the Northeast or to support the construction at JFK. When this happens affected Customers will call in for their choice of a rebooking or refund and hold times go up. Why don’t we just hire a ton more Customer Support people, to offset the wait times on the phones? While a good idea in theory, in reality it would take months to train new Crewmembers, and most of the time they would be sitting around, twiddling their thumbs. Guess what? We’d still have to pay them, thumb twiddling and all, and that means higher costs for us, which would then get passed along to you- the Customer- in the way of higher ticket prices. And NOBODY wants that! The correct solution? Automated services and online rebooking. Those tools are being worked on diligently behind the scenes and we’ll make them available as soon as possible. As previously mentioned though, there are lots of moving parts, and we want to make sure we deliver a product that helps, not hinders.

We do apologize for any inconvenience and we appreciate your continued patience as we work as diligently and as swiftly as possible to bring our new system to its peak performance.

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