What autocomplete says about your airline preferences


Don’t you just love Google’s “autocomplete” — the feature that tries to guess what you want while you’re typing?

Autocomplete’s algorithm offers searches that might be similar to the one you’re entering. Here’s an explanation.

After seeing this clever map of autocompleted states, I wondered: What does it say about travel?

A lot, actually.

For airlines, the results are telling. Hotels and car rental companies? Not so much. The algorithm tries to pair you with a location in your own area, which makes it difficult to tell what others are typing.

I need a job. Seems the unemployed, or at least those who wish they worked for an airline, are accounting for the bulk of the airline searches for several major airlines.

british airways careers

jetblue airways careers

southwest airlines careers

united airlines careers

Unemployment is high, so those results are understandable.


Where do I check in? The next-most popular category belongs to those who need information from their airline — a phone number or details on their flight status. Perhaps something for their web team to consider during their next upgrade.

american airlines phone number

airtran flight status

delta airlines check in

spirit airlines phone number

us airways check in

virgin atlantic flight status

I want a deal. Some airlines, on the other hand, just attract bargain-hunters.

allegiant air promo code

alaska airlines credit card

So here’s what the results tell me. People want one of three things from their airline: flight information, a bargain, or a job. If you think about it, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I mean, people want to pay less for their flight — as little as possible — and yet they want to be employed by an airline?

OK, then.

This goes to the heart of what’s wrong with the airline industry today. Airlines know that we want deals, which is why they quote us a deceptive “base” fare that almost no one pays.

And at the same time, we want to work for an airline? Will someone please explain that?


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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