Destination: #3 ... Amazing Race Argyll!
You spent time traveling across Canada by train to our nation's capital, Ottawa. Now, you will catch a flight back to Canada's hippest ski resort ... Whistler! Booking flights is an interesting process and your assignments will involve learning about the computerized reservation system.
Have you ever thought about the thousands of planes that take off and land every day? How about all the thousands of people who fly in them? Think for a minute of all the flight schedules, reservations, cancellations, connecting flights, and so on that are involved in getting people to their destinations safely and on time. It's a massive amount of details and it takes a computerized system to keep track of everything.
#8 Flying Words
STEP ONE ----> WHAT IS AN AIRLINE?
Airlines are companies. They own airplanes and fly from city to city. The company has employees who fly the planes (pilots), take care of customers on the planes (flight attendants), and take care of customers before and after the flight (agents and ground crew). The company has to have people in every single city that the airplane lands.
When you see the name on the side of an airplane, you can imagine the thousands of people who work for that company.
The three pictures above show three popular airlines used by Canadian travellers. They all have websites.
#9 Plane Research
STEP TWO ----> BOOKING A FLIGHT TO WHISTLER!!
So, the airplane sits on the runway but how do you get a seat?
Airlines use a computerized reservation system.
Photo from westjet.com
We will skip how the computerized reservation system (CRS) came to exist and how it has changed over the years. What you need to know is that now we can use the internet to book flights. On all the airline websites there is a place to punch in your information and get a ticket for a flight. You give them your credit card and tell them the details of your trip and the computer reserves the seat for you on the airplane. You buy the ticket online, just like you were buying a sweater or a DVD.
You can tell them to send your airplane tickets in the mail, or they can email you a copy and you can print a ticket off at home from your computer. Easy!
I went to Westjet.com and used the following information:
You need the following information for this assignment:
- one way ticket
- Ottawa, ON to Vancouver, BC (Whistler doesn't have an airport)
- Fly there as soon as possible
- You are traveling on your own (1 ticket)
I ordered a ticket using the above info and pressed GET FLIGHTS. Here is what I got:
There is a lot of info here so let's look at it in little pieces.
"Day's lowest fares"
Across the top is a banner giving us a little "snapshot" of the best deals each day (see the green and white arrows). This would be important if I didn't care WHEN I was travelling and was more concerned with just getting the cheapest flight.
#10 Lowest Fare
Ok ... next part of the page ...
"Ottawa, ON (YOW) to Vancouver, BC (YVR)"
The bottom section is just a complete list of all available flights. Unfortunately, the flights that showed up at the top of the list have already departed! That's ok, because I just want you to look at the other info.
Let's look at flight # WS 447 . It is broken into two smaller flights (a lot of flights have to stop somewhere along the way to refuel or pick up more people). So, it leaves in the morning at 07:30 (7:30am) and finally reaches Vancouver at 10:53am.
Duration: 6 hr 23min
This means from the time your airplane leave Ottawa, to the time it arrives in Vancouver, it is 6 hours and 23 minutes. That includes the little stop over in the middle!
We have a problem though.
#11 Flight Riddle
The price of flights can change all the time and there are so many airlines to choose from!
The best flight will be one that is the cheap AND doesn't stop in a lot of places.
How do you compare and find the best way to get from here to there?
There are a lot of websites now that compare all the flights from all the airlines and find the best one for you. I used Westjet in the earlier activities so far in this course. There may be a cheaper way to get to Vancouver if I could see every airline and every flight. I might NOT have to stop somewhere else along the way and I could get there even faster.
Here are some popular websites that go shopping for you and find the best deals:
You might have seen their commercials on tv.
Here is a commercial from priceline.com:
#13 Shopping for the Best Deal
whistlerblackcomb.com, namaste-direct.org, flickr.com
Finally, you are here. You hopped a flight from Ottawa and managed to get from the airport up to Whistler ski resort.
It's actually called "Whistler Blackcomb, BC" officially, and it is open all year. There a lot of things to do there, not just skiing and snowboarding.
#14 Whistler Vacation