albird87
Topic Author
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:15 am

Why Is Saber Still Used?

Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:17 pm

hey folks

been wondering this for a while and still i cant think why this hasnt been done.

SABER is pretty much the most used airline check-in/reservation program used out there. However it seems to be very long program and a lot of redundancies in the system, e.g. when you want to edit one flight of your trip, the whole ticket has to be reissued rather than just editing the existing ticket.
This seems to me to be a very long way of working and also using up too many peoples time by having to do all the key strokes again.
SABER i understand is a very stable system that has been around for a very long time when computers were not as advance as they are now so why has no one been able to make a new SABER programe?
To me it would make a lot more sense to make a program that runs ontop of the exsiting SABER and its a very simple point and click system which then does all the keystrokes for you. It would then reduce the amount of training needed for staff and considerably speed up the reservation system in my opinion.
One example i can think of here is on AA you can use your miles on international flights to upgrade as long as there is availability upfront. When this happens, you have to get a whole new ticket re-issued rather than a simple updating the ticket. I presume this is due to the system not being able to understand upgrades. Now if i was a ticketing agent (which im not so i could be well off on this one) i would rather just simply be able to just issue the upgrade by clicking on the system that they have been issued a one way upgrade (25,000 miles and 300 US dollars) and then the system can then edit the exisiting ticket rather than having to start from scratch again by making a whole new ticket. It seems to take around 20 mins when i am waiting for this to happen.

Am i barking mad or is this system in need of a tune up by allowing another software to run onto of SABER and do all the work for you and make life a lot easier for both staff and customers.
 
57AZ
Posts: 2371
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:55 pm

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:53 pm

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Often the fix is worse than leaving the thing alone. Airlines already have enough problems without trying to "improve" a proven system that works fine as it is.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
AAR90
Posts: 3140
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:21 pm

SABRE [Semi-Automated Business Research Environment] remains the largest non-gov't real-time database network in the world. Since the days when AMR pulled the SABRE division out of AA, it has been under increasing pressure to reduce the prices it charges to process information requests (AA immediately began saving $40M/yr when TSG was created) which has only increased since it was sold. As a division within AA, TSG spent heavily trying to create a GUI for airport ticketing, check-in and gate agents but was unsuccessful getting any agents to use them (multiple attempts, none successful) as they were always slower than "native SABRE." Since selling SABRE, AA has spent millions trying to do the same thing with very limited success (and that's just one airline preference, imagine SABRE's problems trying to create a GUI to satisfy all of its airline customers). Airport agents want a GUI, but even within one airline they have been unable to agree on what that GUI should look like and how it should behave. IOW, there is no "standard" to which the programers can create to make everybody --or even most-- agents happy. And all this during a time when USA airlines have no "extra" money to spend on such a project.
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
AirScoot
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu May 12, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:46 pm

A little further to that, there have been multiple attempts to get a GUI overlay for Sabre (which officially is no longer an acronym). Not only was there agent blowback, but Sabre is marketed to both airlines and travel agencies. The agency uptake was far slower than anticipated as anyone who knew "native" was able to process the exact same commands in a far shorter time.

Sabre actually currently markets "Turbo Sabre" to travel agencies. This runs on the same back end engine as Sabre QIK (which people have perpetually been blaming for all of US Airways' troubles... but more on that in a minute).

The point and click, while in it's own way useful, proved to not be quite the panacea that many of Sabre's customers were hoping for. The product is dreadfully slow. The product is very mouse intensive. The product also has a tendancy to get in the user's way rather than enhance the user's effectiveness. Among other reasons, there have been attempts to create GUIs for both the agency community as for airlines with some success.

Keeping in mind that the GUI is only as effective as it's designers permit it to be, the GUI often times is not developed to anticipate all contingencies or is too cumbersome to perform tasks that can often times be handled with a one line command in the native environment.

This doesn't mean that there haven't been any successes. AA uses a GUI on top of Sabre for most of it's reservations/sales agents. Northwest also uses a GUI designed by Sabre as part of it's reservations functions process. Both work just fine the way they were designed. I do know that advanced agents that know the host system are not wild about either solution since it's seen as too slow and cumbersome.

The dreaded USAirways conversion to SHARES incorporated Sabre's GUI on top of SHARES in order to cut down on training costs. Anyone who followed that saga is familiar with what happened. Agents were given an "easy to use" GUI that tied their hands behind their backs. Customers were being told that QIK was at fault which was not strictly the case. QIK works just fine in most instances. The way QIK is moulded to work for any given customer is another story. US tried to make it too idiot proof (which would be a major point behind transitioning to a GUI) and as such made the entire process so difficult as to be worthless.

To touch on two of the OP's points - first, there has been more than one "rework" of the traditional GDS system. Navitaire (used by U2, FR, B6, FL and others) is primarily designed for most functions to be graphical only. I have had the opportunity to spend some time working with Navitaire and have to say that while the intent is good, the system does not have the flexibility or functionality that is, by necessity, a requirement of a large network carrier with multiple partnerships.

As to the upgrade question, you are dealing with a number of systems in your upgrade scenario. The upgrade command itself is relatively simple. Dealing with the payment (be it in money or miles) is where the difficulty comes in. AAdvantage has fingers in Sabre but can be considered to be handled in a completely different system. Some of the complexity also has to do with how American chooses to process their upgrades. Because payment is involved it is not a simple "revalidation" process, but actually an additional collection exchange that happens when the upgrade is performed.

(queue JGPH1A for how much better 1A is  Wink )
 
JGPH1A
Posts: 15079
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2003 4:36 pm

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:05 pm



Quoting Albird87 (Thread starter):
SABER is pretty much the most used airline check-in/reservation program used out there.

Actually it isn't any more  Smile - Amadeus is. 1A has 24% market share of airline hosting (by passengers boarded). Sabre hosting has 21%

Quoting Albird87 (Thread starter):
SABER i understand is a very stable system that has been around for a very long time when computers were not as advance as they are now so why has no one been able to make a new SABER programe?

Various companies have tried. Amadeus was originally based on the same TPF technology as Sabre, but has re-engineered almost the entire system to run on open systems architecture - the whole re-engineering project has taken many years, but will be finished in 2 or 3 years.

Quoting Albird87 (Thread starter):
To me it would make a lot more sense to make a program that runs ontop of the exsiting SABER and its a very simple point and click system which then does all the keystrokes for you.

They did - it was called QIK, and is used by a great many airlines in front of various Reservations system, including Worldspan, PARS, SHARES and Amadeus (QF use it).

Quoting Albird87 (Thread starter):
When this happens, you have to get a whole new ticket re-issued rather than a simple updating the ticket. I presume this is due to the system not being able to understand upgrades. Now if i was a ticketing agent (which im not so i could be well off on this one) i would rather just simply be able to just issue the upgrade by clicking on the system that they have been issued a one way upgrade (25,000 miles and 300 US dollars) and then the system can then edit the exisiting ticket rather than having to start from scratch again by making a whole new ticket. It seems to take around 20 mins when i am waiting for this to happen.

That's not really Sabre's fault - by IATA e-ticketing standards which all airlines apply (more or less), you can't just update the ticket. Any change to the fare requires a re-issue or an exchange. Them's the rules. The fact that it takes 20 minutes IS Sabre's fault. Worldspan and Amadeus have reprice products that can achieve a full reprice and reissue in a matter of a few seconds (Amadeus' product is better  Smile )

Quoting AAR90 (Reply 2):
Since selling SABRE, AA has spent millions trying to do the same thing with very limited success (and that's just one airline preference, imagine SABRE's problems trying to create a GUI to satisfy all of its airline customers)

But AA have implemented a GUI for Sabre - it's called AAcorn, and is installed for almost all of their users. I believe only some AA users in India are still using native Sabre. They're very proud of it - at least the AA people I've spoken to are.

Quoting AirScoot (Reply 3):
Navitaire (used by U2, FR, B6, FL and others) is primarily designed for most functions to be graphical only.

Navitaire is good for LCC's who have no intention of interacting with more traditional airline distribution channels or practices (like interlining and codeshare) - once an airline wants to move to a more "hybrid" model, Navitaire has shortcomings. BTW U2 doesn't use Navitaire - they have their own in-house system.

Quoting AirScoot (Reply 3):
(queue JGPH1A for how much better 1A is

:-P No need - speaks for itself  Smile
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
AAR90
Posts: 3140
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:21 am



Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
But AA have implemented a GUI for Sabre - it's called AAcorn, and is installed for almost all of their users. I believe only some AA users in India are still using native Sabre. They're very proud of it - at least the AA people I've spoken to are.

Came with the "Quantum" upgrade, but most gate agents I see quickly move to native SABRE for all but the most basic of functions. I'm guessing the IT folks are the only ones "proud of it." Certainly not the gate agents I see almost daily.
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
AirScoot
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu May 12, 2005 6:44 pm

RE: Why Is Saber Still Used?

Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:38 pm



Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
But AA have implemented a GUI for Sabre - it's called AAcorn, and is installed for almost all of their users. I believe only some AA users in India are still using native Sabre. They're very proud of it - at least the AA people I've spoken to are.



Quoting AAR90 (Reply 5):
I'm guessing the IT folks are the only ones "proud of it." Certainly not the gate agents I see almost daily.

I fly a LOT of AA.. and yes.. it's mostly only the IT folks that are proud of it. Gate agents from DFW to JFK seem to avoid it like the plague. The people I know there say it takes way too long to do anything. I would venture a guess to say that the GUI/scripting for the airport is primarily for third party vendors that handle outstations. The poor people that have to use it are primarily reservations folks.. and that is because they are forced to, though support functions still appear to be native.

There's a comment I'd insert here for pretty much all of the vendors that have forced their people to go this route.. if you gear towards the lowest common denominator and force a GUI on people so you can pay them wages that normally would require them to ask if they'd like fries with their purchase, you gets what you pays for. The extra money to train towards native anything is always worth it... regardless of system.

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
BTW U2 doesn't use Navitaire - they have their own in-house system.

You are correct sir.. my bad.

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
The fact that it takes 20 minutes IS Sabre's fault.

No.. it's the scripting's fault. I've run exchanges in Sabre.. they're pretty much moron proof. Just takes practice.

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
But AA have implemented a GUI for Sabre - it's called AAcorn, and is installed for almost all of their users

AAcorn is QIK/Sabre+/Turbo. Different name. I'm assuming they chose the name because there weren't enough A's in QIK. You can put lipstick on a pig......

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