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I thought Crossair Ltd. has changed its name to Swiss International Air Lines AG in July 2002. And yet, this is from today's reservation with Aeroplan:

enter image description here

This is very bizarre. In what form does Crossair exist today? Is it a trade name? Or is it just some truly ancient long forgotten system in the basement of Aeroplan or heaven forbid, the Amadeus IT Group resolving LX to the old name fifteen years after the change?

  • 2
    Being in IT, my guess is that changing the name might have unforeseen issues in the internal booking and billing systems, where cross account matches may have been done on name (because those never change) rather than a separate identifier - I see this all the time, especially in the insurance industry where you regularly see names on policies and invoices that havent "existed" for decades. – Moo Mar 3 '17 at 10:36
  • Maybe -- on most screens this is correct by now (obviously) -- and the IATA code, LX in this case, screams to be used as the identifier. – chx Mar 3 '17 at 16:16
  • You'd think, but as per other questions on SE, IATA codes are sometimes shared and thus are not unique... – Moo Mar 3 '17 at 16:40
  • One possibility is that Aeroplan invented a time machine. The reservation the original screenshot is from also contains this nugget: one of the three "flights" (more like three clusters of connecting flights) actually takes a total time of negative two hours i.stack.imgur.com/5LVLG.png – chx Mar 3 '17 at 19:57
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You probably see it for the same reason that I still got Connoisseur Class printed on a boarding pass a decade after it had been recast as United Business: outdated labels that still exist in some or other computer system, but do not impact operations.

In large IT systems, almost nothing is identified by its name. This is certainly true of the legacy airline systems developed in an era when it was impossibly luxurious to expend 17 characters to refer to Piedmont Airlines when 2-character identifier like PI was sufficient. Internal codes would be known to the airline's employees, and standardized ones like IATA airline or airport codes would be known to workers in the industry, and full names were only really required for customer-facing materials.

Every aspect of airline operations is plastered with codes. You know that Virgin Australia issued a ticket not because the receipt says Virgin Australia — it might still say Virgin Blue or V-Australia — but because the ticket number begins with 795. You know that a Boeing 757-231 was originally sold to Trans World Airlines, even though it was delivered to American Airlines after its acquisition of TWA, because it ends in 31. You know SkyWest is operating a flight, even though the plane has United's name and logo painted on the outside, because it is coded as OO2884 (in fairness, the passenger probably knows it as UA5601).

If the computer sees SN, it will follow rules related to SN. It doesn't matter that SN went through three owners and as many names in five years. Only the retail customer has an opinion as to whether brussels airlines and SN Brussels Airlines and SABENA should appear on a printout.

Likewise, the airline now known as Swiss International Airlines may be known internally to Aeroplan as LX or CRX or 12345678 or CrossyFlaggyEuros, or some combination thereof. There is some lookup table somewhere that has the old name tied to this code because of a bug, or an outdated record, or some other dependency. But it hasn't been enough of a problem that they've mounted whatever resources are necessary to correct it.

  • Likely it's on a very lengthy to-do list somewhere, and its priority is low enough that it might never get changed. – Michael Hampton Mar 3 '17 at 17:28
  • @MichaelHampton At one of my clients, I think an old name is kept around just because it's so ironic it's funny— what was the Wells Fargo Advantage Small/Mid Cap Core Fund had been the Evergreen Golden Core Opportunities Fund prior to the financial crisis. – choster Mar 3 '17 at 18:07
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    I, for one, would go out of my way to fly on an airline named CrossyFlaggyEuros. – Zach Lipton Mar 3 '17 at 18:58

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