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Ask HN: Why were names of other passengers appearing in my flight details?
32 points by scottmcdot on Sept 15, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
I am assuming that Google can usually provide live flight information by being able to read my flight tickets being sent to my Gmail. However, when I searched my flight number in Google, I could see the names of two other passengers. I have never met these people and their emails are not in my Gmail. Is this supposed to happen?

http://imgur.com/yb8c9Ks




This is most definitely a bug on Google's side in parsing the passenger names out of the booking email from Germanwings.

I experienced something similar, Google thought that the Geschäftfuhrung (management) at the bottom of the booking email were my co-passengers:

http://i.imgur.com/I8V4ZQN.png (In this case, Thomas Lindner and Dr. Jochen Wallisch)


I think you've probably nailed it.

Looking at the mostly-redacted names OP's screenshot I suspect the additional "passengers" Google's email has picked up are actually Dr Axel Schmidt and Oliver Wagner from Germanwings' executive board? Am I right?


Yes you are right! I presumed it was this guy [0]. Nice to have put this to bed.

[0] http://www.neuro.univie.ac.at/


It's a software bug. If you buy multiple seats on a single ticket, those other names would be the other people travelling with you -- that's why it's formatted correctly. However, the programming logic deciding whether those people are on the same ticket must've gotten screwed.

Since you're probably on the plane at the moment, have you found out if those people are with you on the plane?


It was a couple of weeks' ago. I Googled the Dr's name and he is a real person from Vienna, so it's definitely possible he was on the plane.


Airlines overbook tickets, apparently...


Routinely, in fact, as a matter of BaU.

But that probably doesn't explain the issue with the names - most likely a software bug.


Can confirm - a very close friend of mine who is a flight attendant on JetBlue who has helped me out with numerous flights using his buddy passes, gave me insight into this. Basically, airlines are allowed to oversell because historically, a number of people will miss flights by differing margins, and this helps recover potential losses for those who do miss their flights. Works great when people normally miss their flights, but not so much when everyone shows up.


I never understood this explanation; if you miss your flight, do you get a refund? If not, the airline are still getting paid so shouldn't be booking the same seat twice.


You could miss your flight because you've been stuck in TSA's checkpoints or because of a delayed prior flights; in both cases, the airline has to rebook you onto a later flight, so you're still getting to your destination and still take up a seat in a plane.


jfim explains this well. Airlines want to get you to your destination and will roll you over to another flight if you miss your's. It's happened to me due to traffic jams. And as jfim points out, events like weather or mechanical issues(making departures later than intended) can cause you to miss a layover connection as they tend(not always) to make those razor thin in terms of time.


If they had not overbooked it, would the flight price been the same (for you)?


Why get paid once for a seat when you can get paid twice?




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