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Brilliant. And by brilliant, I mean FAIL. - Mark's Journal
Brilliant. And by brilliant, I mean FAIL.
[An e-mail to Cornell's travel office...]

Hi. The official Cornell travel portal, in this case the Marathon Travel tool at getthere.net, is suggesting such flight itineraries as ITH-LGA followed by JFK-SFO, or ITH-LGA then EWR-SFO, as its first three options for my upcoming trip to San Francisco.

There is NO warning on the "select a flight" page that these connections involve DIFFERENT AIRPORTS mid-trip. Neither, if I proceed to select flights, is there any warning on the "Itinerary, Price and Alternatives" page. There IS a highlighted red "Different Date" warning on the overnight return flights.

A traveler less familiar with airline travel might not realize this was problematic until tickets had been purchased -- or, worse, until arriving at LaGuardia and asking a gate agent, "Now what?"

This potentially disastrous failing makes this travel tool hugely inappropriate for continued use as an official offering to the Cornell community. Please discontinue endorsing it and linking to it at once. 

I want to try Egencia to see if it does better, but apparently registering a new account doesn't ACTUALLY register a new account, it just generates an "application" that must await "approval" by my company's "travel manager." Should I just give up and go back to the tools I know work?
12 comments or Leave a comment
aedifica From: aedifica Date: May 13th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ick, that's bad design.

Do you just need something that finds flights? I really like http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ . (Disclaimer: a good friend of mine works for the company--but I really do like the site.)
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: May 14th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Thanks! I'll take a look at that one, too. Hipmunk has been my go-to site lately.
aedifica From: aedifica Date: May 15th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually Hipmunk uses ITA's stuff on the back end, so they should bring up the same results. They have different interfaces, though. :-)

sskipstress From: sskipstress Date: May 13th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Recently I decided to book a trip where I return to a different airport than where I'll depart. I wouldn't have done this if I could have gotten my preferred schedule any other way (it's also a bit cheaper, even counting in a rental car to get home). I can't imagine choosing to switch airports between legs of a multi-stop trip.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: May 14th, 2011 11:14 am (UTC) (Link)

I can certainly see leaving and returning at different airports in Metro DC, especially as you're more likely to be able to take mass transit to and from the airports. (Though, I guess not in this case, if you're talking about a rental car.) While I've flown out of Elmira and Syracuse and have dropped passengers off at Binghamton and Rochester, I really don't feel the pros outweigh the cons of using out-of-town airports.
sskipstress From: sskipstress Date: May 14th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since I live where I would walk to DCA if I didn't have luggage, I normally fly from there. I'll choose IAD for international travel if I can get a direct flight. While BWI is frequently the cheapest option, I usually avoid it because even with transit, it's not easy for me to get to from where I live.

The only reason I chose BWI this time is that I really want to stay as late as I can without leaving the next morning. Since the flight arrives after transit stops running, I found that renting a car at BWI and returning it to DCA is cheaper than all other ground transport at that hour. It's even cheaper than long-term parking would have been if I'd chosen to fly from BWI for this trip.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: May 13th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Last month, in a blog posting on data visualization, sciencegeekgirl posted a link to hipmunk, a new travel site with (in her opinion, and mine) great visualization of suggested flights.

I have seen suggested itineraries on hipmunk which call for LGA->EWR layovers, but they are clearly marked and usually rare.

I would suggest looking at it, if for no reason other than the data visualization is superb.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: May 14th, 2011 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)

That is, in fact, what I've been using lately, since David Pogue mentioned it. It works very well for me. Thanks!
From: yamazakikun Date: May 15th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Good call on Hipmunk. It is indeed nifty, and I like how it doesn't display a price you can't actually pay (i.e., without taxes). It just needs to ask how many bags you want to check and display the price with that fee included.
chesther From: chesther Date: May 14th, 2011 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Egencia sucks less.

Also, there is nothing at all stopping you (except possibly local departmental practice) from just getting your airfare from any travel site you like.

Or, do what I've done in the past... identify the itinerary you want through your favorite site, and then hand the itinerary spec to someone appropriate and say "please book this itinerary via whatever the appropriate method is today'.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: May 14th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Egencia doesn't suck enough less. Its first three suggestions: ITH-LGA-BOS-SFO, ITH-LGA-PHL-SFO, ITH-LGA-ORD-SFO.

In theory, using Cornell's tools gets us discounted fares and better potential for future discounts because the travel is more clearly Cornell's. There's no such clue to the airlines if I buy myself.

In the past I've felt I had "someone appropriate" I could hand the booking task to, but I don't really think I do now. And, the last time I let a human at the travel office do it, they booked me to San Diego when I was trying to go to San Francisco.
traceroo From: traceroo Date: May 14th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)

That is completely nuts.

What a system! I'm glad you took action to point this out!

12 comments or Leave a comment