United Airport Agent's View of SHARES Airport Reservation System Versus United FastAir

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by chitownflyer, May 28, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    I asked a long time elite United check-in agent about the SHARES airport system, and I was told it is extremely limited and elementary. The system runs on DOS commands. What the agent disliked the most about the system is that they are unable to be empowered to make changes and decisions that the previous FastAir allowed them to do. They cannot do anything with processing the upgrade list and a host of other items. I was also told the GUI version of SHARES may come to airport agents late this year, but it is more likely that it is implemented sometime in 2013. Seth previewed this issue with a blog post last year.
    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/thewanderingaramean/2011/08/united-moving-to-shares-likely-without-fastshares/

    The comments on the recent Chicago Tribune article on United's woes are also quite interesting. http://discussions.chicagotribune.com/20/chinews/ct-biz-0527-flights--20120526/10
     
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  2. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    Are we beating a dead horse again and again over this so called Shares versus Fastair debacle?

    Of course we all know which one is better so why make an new post about something already discussed?
     
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  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I'm not so sure that's really true. There are a lot of folks still in denial.
     
  4. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    A UA agent I know let me see the booklet that was issued for Shares training a few days before 3/3. It really is like going from Windows to DOS. This person (yes, I am being intentionally vague) also demonstrated how to do some common actions on FastAir, then tried to show me what would need to be done on Shares.

    When I saw that, it changed my mind from "oh, it can't be that bad" to "uh-oh."
     
  5. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    I should have added a clear indication of sarcasm but yes, some are still in denial.
     
  6. EWR764
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    EWR764 Silver Member

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    The limited training/support for UA agents transitioning to SHARES, the unavailability of the FastSHARES GUI overlay on 3/3, and the "everything at once" implementation probably have more to do with the negative perception of SHARES than anything else.

    A few things I have learned over the past few months, and are worth repeating:
    - Many of the things people complain about re: SHARES are deliberate policy decisions that can be, have been or will soon be programmed out if the company so chooses. This includes the bar on waitlisting inside 24h, instant ticketing, refunds, redeposits, visibility of partner PNRs, mileage crediting, status indication on manifests, boarding pass layout, etc.
    - FastAir was just the legacy UA agent-side interface. The underlying system was Apollo. The successor to FastAir (FastSHARES) has been delayed but should debut this year, allowing automation of many functions agents presently accomplished through a series of time-consuming keystrokes, much like FastAir was prior to 3/3. In an ideal world, FastSHARES would have rolled out on 3/3 with everything else, but that's not the way things broke.
    - The systems transition was motivated by cost and cost alone. Yes, the company needed to transition to a single passenger service system at some point, but UA's lease on Apollo was coming due and continuing to use Apollo would not only cost the company more for the software rights, but would also impede the company from achieving some cost savings goals based on the ability for sUA agents to service sCO flights and vice versa. On the revenue side, there are incremental benefits from being able to RM ancillary products like E+, as we have heard about extensively over the past few weeks.
    - SHARES can do just about whatever the operator programs it to do. The insurmountable systems limitations vs. Apollo are largely a myth. The problems plaguing passengers are real, but it's not because the system is inherently unable to perform in a certain way. Again, the policy decisions are deliberate and many bugs can be mitigated by the way the system is programmed.

    In sum, SHARES is a flexible, adaptable system that, in time, will be able to do exactly what UA wants it to do. Unfortunately, we aren't there yet.
     
  7. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    The decision to go with SHARES was about operating costs. They bungled the transition. They'll get it right eventually, but they don't just have a software problem they have a people problem. Don't get me wrong, it's their fault and responsibility that they have agents who aren't learning the new system and they have employees who would rather disservice customers than work at it. So to get it right they have to solve the people problem, too, and not just the IT implementation...
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I think there were some revenue-side bits to it as well, but generally speaking I agree. The time-to-market on various efforts is lower on SHARES than on Apollo. That definitely would have been part of the decision process.
     
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  9. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    Yes, there are plenty of cases that have been posted on this forum and FT where an agent saying "Shares can't do this" should really be interpreted as "I don't know how to do this in Shares and I'm not going to bother finding out how to do it right now either."

    My impression is that there are legitimate training issues that are made worse by some front-line employees who are choosing to not learn and are fighting the change.
     
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  10. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    I agree with your analysis Gary. AFAIK, the SHARES reservation system used by telephone agents does not have the numerous limitations of the system used at the airport. I think United ought to hustle with getting the GUI SHARES system for the airport agents, as it is costing to much time and making too many problems when there are irrops. The employees need to have the proper tools to do their job well.

    What do others think, is UA's FastAir better overall then SHARES, or is SHARES potentially better?
     
  11. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Speaking as a software engineer, a dead product (e.g., FastAir) is always worse than a living one under active development (e.g., SHARES).
     
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  12. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    I've seen and read thru on many occasions said booklet (most recently this morning) and "uh-oh" is being way too kind
     
  13. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    You may be talking of the spiral-bound one (that I have seen as well).

    This booklet I'm talking about was with 8.5x11" paper, black and white, and was pretty thick with large-font typeset and screen-shots. I saw what I saw the last week in February.
     
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  14. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    I think very few people on this forum can accurately make that judgment. Very few here have ever worked for an airline or with an airline's reservation system, and just going off what you've seen at the gate, or ticket counter, or from what an agent has told you, is really not enough information to make a sound judgment one way or the other.

    I really don't care what they use as long as it works and employees know how to use it. Obviously there are some issues here with those two items right now, but I believe it's safe to say similar issues would exist had the chosen system been Apollo. Regardless of the choice, a large number of employees were going to be forced to learn a new system, and new policies and rules would have to be programmed into the software.
     
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  15. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    And United doesn't have to pay ongoing license fees for SHARES. The quicker they made the transition the quicker they got out from under those costs. I don't know whether they pay monthly or it renews annually, etc. but I'm sure there were a reason why the plug was puled on the old system when it was.

    There ARE some things they can do more quickly and easily under SHARES and no doubt they view that as a positive, eg more differential pricing on products like E+.

    But overall I don't think it really matters which system is 'better.' Right now there are UA agents that have been unable to accomplish tasks that were possible for United agents 10 and even 15 years ago. So that's not about the technology. There are training issues, employee issues, and also policy issues that have nothing to do with the underlying software capabilities. The software is an easy scapegoat for cultural decisions and management decisions.
     
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  16. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    WA refer to my post re: stages of mourning.

    Acceptance will come eventually, but it will be painful to get there.
     
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    This is like comparing apples to elephants. FastAir is NOT a PSS. Apollo was the PSS that FastAir sat on top of. Saying that FastAir is better (or worse) than SHARES is an illogical comparison.

    One can claim that, from an agent perspective, using FastAir was easier to use than the SHARES command-line interface, but that's a very different discussion.
     
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  18. Scott Schmidt

    Scott Schmidt Silver Member

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    I'd rather have an apple sitting on my lap than an elephant! That is a comparison I can make ;)
     
  19. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    There's a joke in there somewhere about going to a strip-club with an iPhone in your pocket, but I don't think I'm going to make it.
     
  20. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    Quitter.


    It took three UA agents to split and check-in my NRT-SFO-SAN-IAH-AUS reservation that was booked with ParanoiaTX yesterday. They each had a personal notebook full of their notes about SHARES and all of the commands to accomplish tasks. This, in my opnion, is the correct way to handle a systems change. Sometimes new stuff has a learning curve; UA certainly knew this and provided sCO agents to help support the sUA folks as they learn the new system. But, some people simply are unable to deal with change and like to complain about it (sound like anyone we know?).

    It is different, and there are pros and cons, but in the end (and as with almost every change we've seen) it is a business decision. And business decisions carry consequences, both good and bad. The bad is often magnified by communication issues and a lack of experience as well as murky policies and all the other fun things that come along with a merger in the service industry.

    But using an employee who complains about a system as a basis for saying the system is bad is a flawed argument. And online comments on a newspaper are never, ever a basis for any rational opinion on anything ever.
     
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  21. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    So there are two booklets then ;). Yes, it was the spiral bound booklet that I read thru
     
  22. js787

    js787 Silver Member

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    They should have dumped both of these and gone with Amadeus Altea.
     
  23. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I'd be one of the few (I worked for Eastern), and I didn't find SHARES that hideous or complicated when I used it. Granted, that was 22 years ago, and, despite statements implying the contrary, it has changed since then. Later, I worked at a System One agency, but I wasn't a TA.
     
  24. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Which United had a contract to transition to, but it never happened, which says to me that there were good reasons for that. Seven years of no progress there.
     
  25. sfogate
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    sfogate Gold Member

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    LOL.....at this point in time, it's operator error or attitude or lack of notes to do something not yet experienced (such as a ticketing issue). Every sUA agent has atleast a week in training and then 3 months of on-the-job experience with Share experts standing right next to them(basically one-on-one help) and multiple phone numbers to call for assistance. :rolleyes: :mad:
     

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