Archive for May, 2008

So why can’t you….

A question was asked on a frequent flyer community website recently about why we don’t have, or why can’t we get, certain airline data that is available via some “tools” that can be found on the web.

The reason why ExpertFlyer and any other website has different sets of availability of awards and upgrades for various airlines is because of where the information comes from.  ExpertFlyer buys data from the airline reservation systems directly (like all travel agents and other travel related websites) whereas other “tools” that are out there screen scrape various public airline websites.  Since different information is available via different distribution channels, one will have information that another may not.  For example, unique to ExpertFlyer is upgrade information for American, Delta, and Northwest as it is not available on any public website run by the airlines or anyone else.

To answer your next question, yes we could take the information from the airlines websites as well, however we choose not to.  Since we are a legitimate business that chooses to work with the airlines to create mutually beneficial relationships, we can’t just go and copy the information from their websites, as doing so is a clear violation of their terms of use.  Also, since we endeavor to remain on good terms with the airlines, we rather not get on their bad side by hacking their websites.  One of the benefits of this arrangement, among others, is that we can get access to data that is not otherwise publicly available.

As for the other tools that offer some of the information ExpertFlyer does, since they are not built around sustainable business models, they cannot enter into (and pay for) business relationships with airlines and other travel suppliers.  As such, they are stuck showing what is already available on the airlines and other public websites.  Sure there are pros and cons to this or any strategic decision, but we believe that doing it this way allows us to deliver a superior product in both the short and long term to our subscribers.