Let's say you, Mr. Smith, come up and ask for an upgrade on flight 1234 IAH
(just for instance). First, I have to display availabilty to see if there is F available. I can do this one of two ways: Check the flight load (4PF1234) or display availability: A 02FEB IAHLAX
Let's say there's a seat open in F. I have to display your record to see if you're on a full Y fare, or if you're elite: *1234-SMITH
You're not Elite, so you don't qualify for a complimentary upgrade. You're on a deeply discounted fare, so you don't qualify for the mileage-based upgrade. So I have to tell you that you'll have to pay for it. You say, "how much" [If you have to ask, you can't afford it
You paid $220.00 r/t including tax. I have to display the fares: 4FIAHLAX
Then find the base fare of your fare, divide that by 2, find the base fare of the First Class fare, divide that by 2 (divide by 2 because you only want to upgrade one way). Then recalculate the fare using, for instance, $595.83 for the one-way First Class fare and $98.02 for the one-way fare you're on, recalculate taxes, and tell you it's an additional $425.59 to which you reply, "That's ridiculous. I'll just stay where I am."
Had you asked at our ticket counter, they could have told you in a few clicks how much because their Windows-based system is only for Ticketing/Checkin.
At the gates, our Windows-based system does not have the Ticketing option so we have to do it the old-fashioned way: divide by two, carry the one, move the decimal point over...only we do it on the screen with our calculator.
The Windows-based system at the gate is for checkin, seat assignment changes, overbooked flights, volunteer system, printing vouchers for volunteers, processing list for F class Elite standbys, revenue standbys (from earlier/later same-day flight), employee standbys, etc., and all that other behind-the-scenes stuff, in addition to running the paperwork, etc. as the above agents wrote. That's all point, highlight, click, etc.
In the movie "Meet the Parents", it does not take 5 minutes of typing to see if a seat is available! It does, however, take 5 (or more) minutes to recalculate the fare without a Saturday-night stay!