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TVNWZ
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NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:24 pm

Calling all NW res agents. What's up with this:

I'm tying to book MKE>TPA for 31AUG returning 05SEP on nwa.com. All the choices route me through MSP. I was looking for routing through MEM. They have a great connection leaving early morning that works perfectly. But it is not listed as a choice.

I then put in MKE>MEM and MEM>TPA for those dates and hit the seat map and it was pretty wide open. I mean really wide open. The flights through MSP were more full.

So, the question is, why did not the routing MKE>MEM>TPA show up as a choice? In fact I don't recall routing through DTW showing up either.

What's up?
 
Jano
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:37 pm

Set "Number of flights to display" to 50. My hunch when left to default they search a smaller set of options and the MEM option does not make it there.
The Widget Air Line :)
 
AeroWesty
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:42 pm

Do your search by schedule and pick your flights. It may be there isn't a connection where there's a price matching what the cost is via MSP, and therefore not showing if you're searching by price only.
International Homo of Mystery
 
Outlier
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:51 pm

Quoting Jano (Reply 1):
Set "Number of flights to display" to 50. My hunch when left to default they search a smaller set of options and the MEM option does not make it there.

Don't you love it when software tries to be helpful?
Can really drive you nuts sometimes.
 
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TVNWZ
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:54 pm

Quoting Jano (Reply 1):
Set "Number of flights to display" to 50. My hunch when left to default they search a smaller set of options and the MEM option does not make it there.

I can not find such a command. I get back: "16 available flights." Included in that are three stops, but nothing through MEM. Where is this command?

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 2):
Do your search by schedule and pick your flights. It may be there isn't a connection where there's a price matching what the cost is via MSP, and therefore not showing if you're searching by price only.

I did it by schedule, class--every way possible--and I still get the same 16 flight combinations.
 
Jano
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 12:59 pm

Quoting TVNWZ (Reply 4):
I can not find such a command.

at http://res.nwa.com/App/Home
scroll down to "Do you have any preferences?" section.

"Number of flights to display" is right above "Nonstop flights only"
The Widget Air Line :)
 
N600RR
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:12 pm

Quoting Outlier (Reply 3):
Quoting Jano (Reply 1):
Set "Number of flights to display" to 50. My hunch when left to default they search a smaller set of options and the MEM option does not make it there.

Don't you love it when software tries to be helpful?
Can really drive you nuts sometimes.

 checkmark 

Makes me wonder whether airline site designers/programmers have actually flown anywhere, or whether anyone at the airline has actually booked a flight online.  confused 
"And the fluffy white lines that the airplane leaves behind are drifting right in front of the waning of the moon" -Cake
 
ejmmsu
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:22 pm

I just put in those dates on the NWA.com home page, clicked on "search by price and schedule", and found connections via MEM on both the outbound and return, all for $217 total.
"If the facts do not conform to the theory, they will have to be disposed of"
 
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TVNWZ
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:58 pm

Quoting Ejmmsu (Reply 7):
I just put in those dates on the NWA.com home page, clicked on "search by price and schedule", and found connections via MEM on both the outbound and return, all for $217 total.

How far down was it? I finally got Memphis to come up, but it took the long way around. I went in and had to select the specific times I knew my flight from MKE was leaving on an individual basis. It still was behind two-stops through MSP.

I did reset my preferences...but that made no difference.

I got the distinct impression NW does not want to route me through MEM from MKE very easily. It was like root canal. The price: $217 (K) the same as the one-stops through MSP.

Why wouldn't the MEM one-stop connections show up before the MSP two-stops if the price is lower? Humm.

For the record: I am a G-Elite and do this all the time (embarrased about the display thingy though.) and have never encountered this problem. Maybe the IT guys need more Cowbell or something!
 
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TVNWZ
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 2:18 pm

Quoting Jano (Reply 1):
Set "Number of flights to display" to 50. My hunch when left to default they search a smaller set of options and the MEM option does not make it there.

I think you are right. I did it both ways. With "no preference" I got 16 flights to LGA. With "no more than 50" I got...50.

And if you use the homepage search it is always 16 flights. At least for me. Now, it also appears the grouping is by Hub, so if you are closer to MSP than MEM it is going to come up MSP for possibly 16 flights with MEM not making the cutoff.

Well it's late. Maybe some night owl A-netters can shed some light on this overnight. I'm toast.
 
Jano
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:26 pm

Quoting TVNWZ (Reply 9):
Well it's late. Maybe some night owl A-netters can shed some light on this overnight. I'm toast.

Based on what I did in my previous life long time ago  Smile

The task that res.nwa.com does (or better orbitz.com, which is used by res.nwa.com) faces is an NP-hard problem, check here http://www.itasoftware.com/careers/eng.php for a practical view
There are 25,000,000 practical flight combinations for a round-trip between Boston and Los Angeles with one-day travel windows. Computing the price for any one of those ways is at least NP-hard. The availability data is changing at 100 Hz. Find the cheapest solution in 10 seconds or less....

A math professor would write about NP hard problems this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NP-hard  Wink

Anyway, mu hunch (and I'm really speculating) is they do use heuristics to find the "best price" trip and with "Number of flights to display" they let us manipulate for how long (think CPU cycles or time) this heuristic should run. While they might not find an optimal solution (if I remember correctly the trip via MEM was $0.5 cheaper than the one via MSP) they can tell usually that they are very close to the optimal solution (the cheapest trip) - in this case it was $0.5 difference or about 0.2%. So, thus they stop the search to conserve CPU cycles. We need to remember that there are many other people searching at the same time. This is NP hard problem, which means that not using heuristics and trying to find an optimal solution might be computionally very exhaustive -> (in a very simple way) time to solve the problem grows faster than the complexity of the problem and is not limited by any know polynomial.

Point is you searched "by price" and that's what they did. You hoped that in the first 16 results would be a trip via MEM and it was not there. However, your question should have been "give me the best price if I fly back via MEM". In that case you need to set "Number of flights to display" to increase your chances or use multi-city option.
The Widget Air Line :)
 
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TVNWZ
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:21 am

Thanks, Jano. I have learned my lesson! But I also searched by schedule and flight times...MEM..was still not in the top 16. This despite it was the quickest trip . Which is why I wanted it.  Smile
 
sk601
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:28 am

I wanted information (i.e. price) on a AMS-MEM flight. Whatever I did, the webside (nwa.com) did NOT show the nonstop flight. All routes were either via DTW or MSP.

Then I changed to klm.com and the KL webside showed the price for the nonstop NW57 AMS-MEM.

Strange, but according to all of the above, not unusual.
 
gregarious119
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:18 am

I think NWA has a program available called "World Timetable" that has the flight schedule for NW/KL/AF and all possible routings.

When I booked my honeymoon, I couldn't get the right routing to show up until I found it on that program (through MEM). I eventually had to call res and ask for that specific route, but the guy even found me a first class fare (same price as Y) that wasn't showing up on the online sites (NW/Orbitz/travelocity).

If you can find your right routing with that program, sometimes dealing with a real life person may be able to save a few bucks.

Hope this helps!

Edit: http://downloadabletimetable.klm.com/WorldTimetable.exe

[Edited 2006-07-26 22:21:21]
 
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TVNWZ
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RE: NW Reservation Strangeness

Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:41 am

I have heard from several folks who say they too have a hard time having MEM come up as an option even though it may be the quickest connection. So, this begs the question: Is NW trying to downplay that hub? Shortest connections, same price, acceptable (if not better times) and it does not pop up in the top 16 choices readily. This when two-stops through MSP and DTW will show up.

Does NW really want MEM to succeed?