Take a window seat and aisle tell you a story: the strange history of airline ticketing

Lazy Susans and chance encounters!
Airline ticketing has undergone a technical revolution over the last few decades. (Nicole Harrington/Unsplash)

Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when you go to your favourite travel website and book a ticket on a plane?

Probably not.
Taimur Abdaal (Sean Geraghty)

Taimur Abdaal does, thankfully. And the data scientist and mathematician has unearthed a lot of interesting history about how a travel agent—real or virtual—makes it possible for you to get a seat on the correct flight, to the correct place, at the correct time, in a matter of seconds.

It's a process that used to take hours, when agents would sit around a giant Lazy Susan with slots for each airline and flight. They would manually process and print each ticket by hand, he said.

Now, that process happens online in seconds. But it might not be so, had it not been for a chance encounter—on a plane, of course—between an computer engineer and an airline executive.

To hear the mysterious history of plane ticketing (as well as some cool vintage airline sounds) listen above.


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