Goofy flight options - has SABRE gone senile?

Why would an airline reservations system offer a flight that has connections at different airports?

I was looking at flights from San Francisco to Charlotte, and one of the uglier options was a flight from SFO to JFK, then LGA to CLT. No word on how to get from JFK to LGA, but it was at least good enough to warn about the different airports. I realize the airports are “only” 12 miles apart, but if someone’s not paying attention, that could be a rude surprise, especially when they discover a taxi will cost about $50.

American #18 SFO 10:30 pm JFK 07:05 am Economy
American† #1892 LGA 11:30 am CLT 01:32 pm Economy
12 hours 2 minutes; 32B, Airbus Industrie A321; (Sabre) † Operated by US Airways; Arrival and departure airports are different

After a while, it just seems like the system is trying to mess with you by offering fifteen hour long flights when the direct route is five hours, sitting at a connecting airport for five hours, three legs on three different airlines, etc.

Is there something in the algorithms that makes the system offer what seem like “Yeah, this is *technically *possible” routes?

Do you really need to leave late at night on a redye? That may have something to do with it. I just checked and there are plenty of reasonably priced flight from San Francisco to Charlotte with one short stop during the day and even direct flights if you want to pay a whole lot more.

I’ve done stopovers coming in and out of different NYC airports. There is a cheap little shuttle between them. It saved me around $500, so I didn’t mind.

Some people only care about cost. Some people want to see every option out there. Some people might actually want to get out of the airport and check out a new city for a few hours so a long layover doesn’t matter.

Cuz SOMETIMES, the client wants CHEAPEST at any inconvenience!

It’s a tangent, but you cannot get across Boston on Amtrak - if you are in the northern loop, all trains stop at Boston North. If you are anywhere else in the US, all trains stop at Boston South. Amtrak used to bus riders across the gap, but now when you try to book travel to points north, there is a blatant warning you have to schlep your own ass between stations to make the connection. I have never heard of this with the airports/airlines, though.

Oh, the airline reservation systems have had this “feature” for at least as far as I can remember, late 1980s. It’s just that Once Upon A Time there were these creatures called “Travel Agents” or “Ticket Agents” who would be the only ones actualy looking at the SABRE screen, and who usually could safely assume the human being on the other side of the desk/phone would not be very interested in this alternative so they would not mention it unless it seemed it suited your very special need. Heck, I’ve seen a “flight” reservation that departs from the Philadelphia train station, connecting to Newark airport.

I believe there are ‘collective’ airport codes that cover certain metropolitan areas. If you get one of these codes, it will route to any airport in the metropolitan area. Since your itinerary was adding NYC automatically in the middle, maybe it was considering all NYC-area airports to be equivalent?

As has been said, this is nothing new. I remember being offered itineraries like this in the 80s, or even the 70s, if they were cheap enough.

Nowadays with most reservation systems there is a setting to eliminate this type of itinerary, but the default is usually to leave them, just in case you’re a real cheapskate.

When a business meeting is scheduled to run until 5 PM, the good options dry up quickly as trying to get from downtown to the gate before 7PM is a tall order, even with BART. It would take a fifth of hooch and a fistful of ambien to get me to sleep on a plane, so I’d rather stay another night in SF.

Oddly enough, US Scare’s nonstops are the cheapest option available to me for this date. Some of the screwball interline options came in at nearly twice as much.

As another aside, US Air is a “premier partner” for us, and American is still listed as a “there better be a darned good reason to use them” option, despite their merger.

JFK to LGA Transfer Shuttle buses
Estimated travel time is approximately 45-60 minutes and tickets can be purchased online at

ETS Air Shuttle (718) 221-5341
All County Express (914) 381-4223
NYC Airporter (718) 777-5111

No big deal.

On a tangent, I once had to connect between the two airports that serve Tokyo. My flight from O’Hare landed at Narita. I took a shuttle bus, costing about Y2000 to Haneda to make my flight to Naha. IIRC, the trip took about 45 minutes. The reason was that Narita has longer runways for bigger Intercontinental flights, while Haneda handled the domestic traffic. NYC is the same. JFK handles big planes, while LGA handles the shorter hops.

Agreed. No sense wasting a drunken night on an airplane ride.