Startups · Customer Acquisition

How can get information on passengers booked on flights?

Jed Ng Corporate Strategist at Ericsson

September 17th, 2015

I'm working on an idea to monetize unfilled airline capacity (i.e. passenger seats) and need to find out how to reach users. This could come in a variety of ways such as scrubbing booking aggregators like Kayak, tapping in Sabre/GDS, or some sort of API for the way gmail detects your upcoming flights.

Does anyone have industry knowledge or advice on how to do this? Also open to taking on a co-founder with passenger aviation connections.

Samik Raychaudhuri

September 17th, 2015

I thought the data about folks who are onboard a flight (i.e., folks who are ticketed) is confidential information and cannot be obtained without legal means. Isn't that correct?

Hasan Diwan contract Data Scientist to several startups

September 17th, 2015

Jed, I've done a little work with harnessing some aviation APIs and would be willing to help you out. Maybe we could have a phone call? -- H

Kym McNicholas TV Host, Tech Jounalist, Director of Extreme Tech Challenge, Host of KDOW Radio's NewFocus On Innovation

September 17th, 2015

You should look up michael flint - i think on facbeook he's now under michael sean

Thomas Storey Founder at Paramount Companies

September 17th, 2015

Hey Jed,

I am working on a what sounds like a similar concept that I have in an incubator here in Phoenix, we Should definitely talk further. 

Ben Shan Product at Viator

September 17th, 2015

which users are you trying to reach?  those who are already booked? im trying to understand how booking data helps. do you want it to calculate how many seats are empty? 

btw, kayak is a meta-search engine. they hand off bookings to other systems, so i'm not sure if they really know who's booked. also, a GDS may not know about supplier direct bookings. the point is you may not have a complete picture who how many seats are unsold. 

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

September 18th, 2015

Hello Jed,

"I'm working on an idea to monetize unfilled airline capacity (i.e. passenger seats)"

Maybe I'm not getting this the correct way, but airlines do overbook precisely for this reason. So unless, your business model is aiming to exploit some obscure method, it's difficult to see a business case for it.

More opinions, here.


Robert Tolmach Entrepreneur and Social Entrepreneur

September 18th, 2015

Empty seat on an airline? Haven't seen one in ages. Well, not many.

Jed Ng Corporate Strategist at Ericsson

September 18th, 2015

@Robert Tolmach you're absolutely right. The aviation industry has really gotten their act together on yeild management in the last decade. I'm interested in unfilled seats in business/first class. Any thoughts on that?

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

September 21st, 2015

Samik is right - this is considered Confidential and Proprietary information by the airlines. To the extent that they are now actively lying to customers and aggregators.

I was recently on a US Airways flight which showed 90% booked when we went to get seats. It turned out to be about 20% full.

Similarly because the airlines don't like what Kayak et al are doing, they are starting do set up "Just in The Moment" fares and seat availability. And they are tracking the source of the query and changing the data based on that.

Again personal experience - via Kayak, found a fare that was truly the lowest cost fare. Clicked on the link and got sent to the actual airline reservation flight only to find that the Flight Date and Ticket Price had changed between Kayak and the airline.

So while I wish you luck in your effort, I doubt its likelihood of success.   The data you seek is company proprietary information.  And it is not revealed outside the company (given the practice of overbooking) .  chasing this one is just going to result in tears.