The days of airline agents typing and typing to get their computers to spit out reservation information could be numbered if ITA Software’s new airline reservation system takes off.
ITA, the Cambridge online travel company bought last year by Google, has partnered with Cape Air, out of Hyannis, to launch a reservation system that gives airlines more flexibility to accommodate passengers, according to both companies.
The system, which went live last week, works more like a website than Cape Air’s old reservation system, allowing agents to point and click instead of typing in a long string of codes.
Individual items such as pricing and schedules can be adjusted independently, something not possible with the monolithic design of Cape Air’s former system, Sabre, which has been used by airlines since the 1960s.
Google is in talks with several airlines about the ITA reservation system, but has not made public any other deals yet.
Except for a new website design, customers will not notice a dramatic difference when booking flights online for Cape Air and sister airline Nantucket Airlines, which fly nine-seat planes to 39 destinations and operate up to 700 flights a day in the summer. But it should be a faster, more error-free experience, said Dan Wolf, chief executive of Cape Air, and the system may eventually allow the airline to use passengers’ smartphones to track whether they are running late - or early - and rebook flights. It could even be used to deliver luggage directly to a traveler’s destination, Wolf said.
“This step with ITA and Google, really, we see as a way to remove the barrier between our company and the customer,’’ Wolf said.
ITA chose Cape Air as its first partner because it had the right mix of can-do attitude and team spirit the software company needed, said Jeremy Wertheimer, ITA’s founder and vice president of Google’s travel division. Having the airline based nearby also helped. “These systems are so complicated there haven’t been many new ones,’’ Wertheimer said. “There’s a lot more possibilities now that we have a more flexible system.’’