Some airlines use computer applications to gain a competitive edge when offering fares. One example is "DING!" an application used by Southwest Airlines to alert prospective passengers to limited-time special fare offers. The customer downloads the application form from the Southwest website to her computer or mobile device. An audible "ding" sound similar to a chiming bell indicates when a special fare is available, and customers can click on the DING! icon to obtain additional information.
Modern industries of all types rely heavily on the use of computers to operate effectively, including the airline industry. Computers and their associated applications are an integral part of the flight process, from the time you book the flight until the plane touches the ground. In many cases, computer automation has made flying more efficient and has resulted in cost savings for the airlines.
Computer applications play an integral role in the operation of modern airlines, and airplane manufacturers are continuously upgrading computer systems to improve operations. Modern airliners contain sophisticated computerized flight management systems, which automate many of the plane's functions. In particular, computerized navigation systems can guide the plan to its destination, reducing the need for manual navigation by humans. Flight management systems are also used in the development of flight plans.
Airlines make use of computerized reservation systems to facilitate the process of booking flights and selling tickets. While each airline operates its own reservation system, travel agents have been able to access them since the 1970s to compare fares for their customers. With the advent of almost universal Internet use, passengers can go online and compare fares and book flights for themselves with the assistance of travel websites like Travelocity.com, Expedia.com and Priceline.com, to name a few.
The Internet and associated computer applications have also paved the way for electronic ticketing. According to the International Air Transport Association, the entire airline industry moved to 100 percent electronic ticketing as of June, 2008. E-ticketing represents a cost savings for airlines, as it eliminates the expense of paper tickets and reduces handling and processing costs. The IATA indicates that e-ticketing saves the airline industry up to $3 billion per year. E-ticketing also makes travel more convenient for passengers, as they receive all pertinent flight information in advance via email.
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