Srikanth Sastry A Techie in Boston

Airfare booking and pricing, demystified!

I work on Google’s air travel infrastructure team, which powers Google Flight Search. Last month, I did a #HangoutOnAir with university students in India. The main focus of that talk was to introduce the students to the sort of challenges that we face. The talk is up on Google Plus, and has since been split into two parts.

In the first part (which is targeted for a general audience), I cover the fundamentals of flight booking, tackling issues like routing (10,000+ routes for SFO-JFK!?), seat availability, fare codes, pricing and more. It answers questions such as, “why did you pay $50 more than the person sitting next you in the plane for the same ticket?”, and “why  are tickets on this flight from SFO to JFK available when flying SFO to BOS via JFK, but not available for a non-stop flight from SFO to JFK?”

You can check out part 1 [here].


In the second part, I get into the computer sciency details of the complexity of airfare search (even the simplest versions of this problem are NP-hard), and provide a (over)simplified description of QPX — the engine that Google uses to search and price airfare tickets. This talk is targeted at computer science students and professional.

Check out part 2 [here].