Computers are used in all aspects of our lives today, and we all carry one around with us in the form of a mobile phone. Airlines use them too and the Aer Lingus reservations computer system is called ASTRAL.
Aviation people have long mentioned in passing that ASTRAL is an older system, however I was unaware of how old until recently. Make your best guess and read on to see if you got it right.
Old Tech – But It Works
You might not know it, but the airline industry still relies on a lot of old technology on the ground. Perhaps the most obvious to passengers is the continued use of dot matrix printers at gates. These printers are more reliable for the time sensitive airline industry.
Need to print five pages? No problem, they’ll all be linked together without staples. Also, the ink runs out gradually, paper never jams and it suits the older systems that are in use. Imagine people’s ire if a flight was delayed because the printer was out of toner!
The Aer Lingus Reservations Computer
ASTRAL stands for Advanced System of Telecommunications and Reservations for Aer Lingus. As far as I am aware, no other airline uses it, though others certainly did in the past. It is a variant of IPARS, the International Passenger Airlines Reservations System.
Have you made a guess as to how old it is? Well, here’s the answer. According to this very informative article by David Kennedy who was there at the time, it went live in late 1968. Yes, that’s right, ASTRAL is celebrating its 52nd birthday this year!
Obviously the system has been upgraded over the years, but it is still a very old system. Using this means that the Irish airline does not have to pay an external supplier for their reservations, which saves money. At the same time, it makes integration with other systems a bit of a headache.
I can’t help but be struck as to how things have changed. Aer Lingus were a leader in technology use in Ireland back in the day when they introduced this brand new system. Today, they are quite the opposite, hanging onto such a legacy system.
While the Aer Lingus reservations computer system is old, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not fit for purpose. It is very reliable as I don’t know of any instances where the IT has failed. It is always online and working, and that is perhaps one reason they keep it around.
I was quite surprised to find out it was 52 years old though. I figured perhaps it was an early 1980s system, or something like that. How wrong was I! There’s another article from Techarchives here that may be of interest to those into the Irish airline’s computer systems.
Did you know the Aer Lingus reservations computer system arrived in the 1960s? Ever used it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image via AV Control Systems.
Dot Matrix Printer LHR T2 by Barry Neild/CNN.
ASTRAL Marketing Brochure courtesy of Nora O’Rourke via Techarchives.
I use the system on a daily basis and it’s an absolute nightmare! Worst system I’ve ever worked with. It’s fine if you want to do basic entries but the moment you need to rebook a passenger or check in and connecting passenger it’s a headache. One small tiny error can mess up a lot of work. When I’ve been to other airports and asked them questions about my ticket etc, they’ve always said their system is down or I need to contact the airline straight away as for them, it’s also a nightmare. Aer lingus need to get with… Read more »
Great to hear some feedback from someone who actually uses the system. I had heard it was a bit convoluted, but you’ve really described the challenges very well. I’m curious as to whether they ever decide to make a change, though it’s perhaps more likely as they’re part of IAG. I’d love to know whether the system is one of the oldest still in constant use in the world. I’d say it would have to be up there! Thanks for the comment, really enjoyed reading your experiences with the system.
The article is all about the lingus reservation computer system and its overall thoughts.
Super, that’s right!