The world's travel industry yesterday passed its first major year 2000 compliance test, as its giant airline reservations systems successfully booked flights for January 2000.
Most of the airline, car rental and hotel rooms in computer reservations systems are available 330 or 331 days in advance, meaning that 4 February was the first day customers could buy flights departing on 1 January 2000.
"Everyone has been talking about January 1 as a key date, but it's February 4 for us," said Ronnie Hauptman, Year 2000 director at Galileo International, the world's largest computer reservations system operator.
Galileo's Apollo computerised reservation system serves North America, Japan and parts of the Caribbean. Late yesterday it said it had passed its first Y2K test by processing airline availability, fare quotes and ticketing requests from airlines. It also successfully processed hotel and car-rental reservations.
Some cruise lines and foreign carriers that have an inventory windows longer than 331 days have been receiving year 2000 reservations through Galileo since early January without any problems.
Worldspan, a US based reservation system owned by Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and Trans World Airlines said that it has successfully processed January 2000 bookings for hotels and car rental.
More than 100,000 travel agencies that book 80 per cent of all flights are dependent on computerised booking systems. Galileo handles about one third of all the books. Sabre and WorldSpan are also major players.
The travel industry's Y2K problems have not ended here though. On 9 September 1999 the reservation systems will creates a row of four nines which could easily mislead the computers causing them to delete data or at worst crash.
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