June 15, 2024

101 reasons for Patricia to use a TMC

Toying with the idea of taking on a physical challenge, Scott Wylie at TripStax considers how age is a factor and then thinks of 101-year-old frequent flyer Patricia

I’ve talked a lot about beer. But there is also another, more active, side to me.

I’m looking for a new physical challenge. I’ve done the London Classics in recent times (the London Marathon plus a 100-mile cycle ride and two mile swim around the Serpentine). I’ve cycled the Way of the Roses across the UK and I’m now toying with joining an English Channel relay swim. Or I was until I found out what the gruelling pre-race organised training looked like.

There’d be no winging this one. Despite loving a good challenge, the thought of showing off my curves in a wetsuit more than once sends shivers down my spine. Plus, I’m no spring chicken anymore, age shouldn’t be a barrier, but it’s certainly a consideration.

Talking of age, this brings me to the latest travel tech conundrum.
The BBC recently interviewed Patricia, a passenger on board an American Airlines flight. Patricia is 101 years old, born in 1922, eight years after the world’s first commercial flight in 1914. Every time Patricia has flown since entering her second century, the carrier’s computers have designated her 100 years younger, leaving her without wheelchair assistance and cabin crew confused not to find a baby being carried on board.

Just for fun, I tried making a booking for a 101-year-old via NDC to see if that would have recognised Patricia’s correct age. Answer: it wouldn’t. The system designated me as an adult but born in 2022.

A couple of lessons occur to me. The first is that I believe NDC genuinely is more flexible in some ways than the traditional EDIFACT-based travel distribution technology it is replacing. For example, you can have more price points and customisable fare bundles. But it doesn’t fix some problems embedded deep inside the aviation sector’s outdated technology.

The second lesson, and it’s an important one for travel managers, is that Patricia’s case shows how much better your travellers get looked after when they book through a travel management company. Or, I should say, when they book through a TMC which has a quality control module like the one TripStax offers. In Patricia’s case our module (and others are available) would have recognised she was aged 101 and automatically alerted the airline to make the necessary arrangements.

I realise it’s a zillion to one to have centenarian business travellers, but the point about good quality control stands. Travellers with particular needs (e.g. mobility or neurodiversity) or anything else, will be much better supported with good QC back-up.

I’m going to need some back-up too if I decide to go ahead with that Channel swim. Rest assured I will feel 101 years old long before I reach Calais.

Scott Wylie is Chief Technology Officer for tripstax.com