Hmm - so Emirates flight 380 is actually operated by a B777 :(
How and why did you come up with the Flightmapping concept?
Way back in the autumn of 2001 I was planning a trip to the south of France to visit Nice, Marseille and Lyon. I knew flights to that part of the world were never too expensive, so price wasn't a major concern. I just needed to find out 'who flies where', but could not find a website offering this simple information.
Having always been a "can do" person rather than a "can't", I taught myself how to build a website and a few months later Flightmapping.com was born.
Did you have a background in the travel business before Flightmapping?
No, I studied Architecture at Edinburgh University, but this helped foster a keen interest in urban planning and transport infrastructure. I have also been a bit of a travel nut from an early age, starting with trains (yes, I admit to being a member of 1980s trainspotting club 'Railriders') and then moving onto planes.
Our dad instilled the wonderlust in us – he was in the Merchant Navy before spending time working in the South Pacific, Saudi Arabia and the Caribbean.
What have been the biggest changes you have seen within the flights industry since Flightmapping.com was launched in 2002?
The biggest positive change has been the regionalisation of flight routes. Back when we started, the no-frills revolution was centred around Luton and Stansted, which was fine if you lived in London and the Home Counties, but not so good for the two thirds of the UK population who live outside the southeast.
Regional airports like Birmingham International and Manchester used to think their future hopes lied with the traditional legacy airlines, but they slowly woke up to the fact that consumers want low-cost flights to interesting destinations, not just expensive feeder flights into hub airports.
The biggest downside is the huge amount of hidden extras when booking flights with no-frills airlines. I don't mind the avoidable extras like priority boarding and hold baggage, but some of the ancillary charges are now getting ridiculous. Ryanair – of course – lead the way, but lest we forget it was Flybe who first suggested charging passengers to use the bathroom.
Also, hiring a car as part of your booking with a no-frills airline can be a serious rip-off. Consumers are often hoodwinked into thinking that anything to do with budget airlines is going to be a bargain, but booking car hire with low-cost carriers is not just significantly more expensive than shopping around, it can also mean you end up in a long queue with all the other passengers that have booked with that airline, when you could be already on the road towards your destination having hired your car with a cheaper and less busy competitor.
I should too make a point of including the ever-increasing Air Passenger Duty (APD) in this list of hidden extras....The government has its hands in the till too, so they are hardly in a position to legislate when they are taking in billions of pounds in Air Passenger Duty (APD), which they have labelled as a green tax, when we know it is nothing of the sort.