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HandWiki. Computer Reservation System. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 18 June 2024).
HandWiki. Computer Reservation System. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 18, 2024.
HandWiki. "Computer Reservation System" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 18, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 17). Computer Reservation System. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Computer Reservation System." Encyclopedia. Web. 17 November, 2022.
Computer Reservation System

A computer reservation system or central reservation system (CRS) is a computerized system used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to air travel, hotels, car rental, or other activities. Originally designed and operated by airlines, CRSs were later extended for the use of travel agencies. Global distribution systems (GDS) book and sell tickets for multiple airlines. Most airlines have outsourced their CRSs to GDS companies, which also enable consumer access through Internet gateways. Modern GDS's typically allow users to book hotel rooms, rental cars, airline tickets as well as other activities and tours. They also provide access to railway reservations and bus reservations in some markets, although these are not always integrated with the main system. These are also used to relay computerized information for users in the hotel industry, making reservation and ensuring that the hotel is not overbooked. Airline reservations systems may be integrated into a larger passenger service system, which also includes an airline inventory system and a departure control system.

inventory system reservation system control

1. History

1.1. Origins

In 1946, American Airlines installed the first automated booking system, the experimental electromechanical Reservisor. A newer machine with temporary storage based on a magnetic drum, the Magnetronic Reservisor, soon followed. This system proved successful, and was soon being used by several airlines, as well as Sheraton Hotels and Goodyear for inventory control. It was seriously hampered by the need for local human operators to do the actual lookups; ticketing agents would have to call a booking office, whose operators would direct a small team operating the Reservisor and then read the results over the telephone. There was no way for agents to directly query the system.

The MARS-1 train ticket reservation system was designed and planned in the 1950s by the Japanese National Railways' R&D Institute, now the Railway Technical Research Institute, with the system eventually being produced by Hitachi in 1958.[1] It was the world's first seat reservation system for trains.[2] The MARS-1 was capable of reserving seat positions, and was controlled by a transistor computer with a central processing unit and a 400,000-bit magnetic drum memory unit to hold seating files. It used many registers, to indicate whether seats in a train were vacant or reserved to accelerate searches of and updates to seat patterns, for communications with terminals, printing reservation notices, and CRT displays.[1]

1.2. Remote Access

In 1953, Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) started investigating a computer-based system with remote terminals, testing one design on the University of Toronto's Manchester Mark 1 machine that summer. Though successful, the researchers found that input and output was a major problem. Ferranti Canada became involved in the project and suggested a new system using punched cards and a transistorized computer in place of the unreliable tube-based Mark I. The resulting system, ReserVec, started operation in 1962, and took over all booking operations in January 1963. Terminals were placed in all of TCA's ticketing offices, allowing all queries and bookings to complete in about one second with no remote operators needed.

In 1953, American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith chanced to sit next to R. Blair Smith, a senior IBM sales representative, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. C.R. invited Blair to visit their Reservisor system and look for ways that IBM could improve the system. Blair alerted Thomas Watson Jr. that American was interested in a major collaboration, and a series of low-level studies started. Their idea of an automated airline reservation system (ARS) resulted in a 1959 venture known as the Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment (SABRE), launched the following year.[3] By the time the network was completed in December 1964, it was the largest civil data processing system in the world.

Other airlines established their own systems. Pan American World Airways launched its PANAMAC system in 1964. Delta Air Lines launched the Delta Automated Travel Account System (DATAS) in 1968. United Airlines and Trans World Airlines followed in 1971 with the Apollo Reservation System and Programmed Airline Reservation System (PARS), respectively. Soon, travel agents began pushing for a system that could automate their side of the process by accessing the various ARSes directly to make reservations. Fearful this would place too much power in the hands of agents, American Airlines executive Robert Crandall proposed creating an industry-wide computer reservation system to be a central clearing house for U.S. travel; other airlines demurred, citing fear of antitrust prosecution.

1.3. Travel Agent Access

In 1976, United began offering its Apollo system to travel agents; while it would not allow the agents to book tickets on United's competitors, the marketing value of the convenient terminal proved indispensable. SABRE, PARS, and DATAS were soon released to travel agents as well. Following airline deregulation in 1978, an efficient CRS proved particularly important; by some counts, Texas Air executive Frank Lorenzo purchased money-losing Eastern Air Lines specifically to gain control of its SystemOne CRS.

Also in 1976 Videcom international with British Airways, British Caledonian and CCL launched Travicom, the world's first multi-access reservations system (wholly based on Videcom technology), forming a network providing distribution for initially two and subsequently 49 subscribing international airlines (including British Airways, British Caledonian, TWA, Pan American World Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, SAS, Air Canada, KLM, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific and JAL) to thousands of travel agents in the UK. It allowed agents and airlines to communicate via a common distribution language and network, handling 97% of UK airline business trade bookings by 1987. The system went on to be replicated by Videcom in other areas of the world including the Middle East (DMARS), New Zealand, Kuwait (KMARS), Ireland, Caribbean, United States and Hong Kong. Travicom was a trading name for Travel Automation Services Ltd. When BA (who by then owned 100% of Travel Automation Services Ltd) chose to participate in the development of the Galileo system Travicom changed its trading name to Galileo UK and a migration process was put in place to move agencies from Travicom to Galileo.

European airlines also began to invest in the field in the 1980s initially by deploying their own reservation systems in their homeland, propelled by growth in demand for travel as well as technological advances which allowed GDSes to offer ever-increasing services and searching power. In 1987, a consortium led by Air France and West Germany's Lufthansa developed Amadeus, modeled on SystemOne. Amadeus Global Travel Distribution was launched in 1992. In 1990, Delta, Northwest Airlines, and Trans World Airlines formed Worldspan, and in 1993, another consortium (including British Airways, KLM, and United Airlines, among others) formed the competing company Galileo International based on Apollo. Numerous smaller companies such as KIU have also formed, aimed at niche markets not catered for by the four largest networks, including the low-cost carrier segment, and small and medium size domestic and regional airlines.

2. Major Airline CRS Systems

Name Created by Airlines using Also used by
  • Unisys
  • GDS and other PSS systems, Low Cost Airlines, Full Services Carriers, Hybrid Airlines
  • Several large corporations
  • InteliSys Aviation Systems
  • Over 40 low-cost carriers and regional airlines
  • Several large corporations
Avantik PSS
  • Bravo Passenger Solutions
  • Over 20 low-cost carriers and hybrid airlines use the Avantik PSS
Abacus (purchased by Sabre in 2015)
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Cathay Dragon
  • China Airlines
  • EVA Airways
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Royal Brunei Airlines
  • SilkAir
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Air India
  • Online travel agencies
  • Over 450 individual airlines
  • Over 25 countries in Asia Pacific
  • Over 80,000 hotels


  • ISA, Information Systems Associates FZE
  • Air Arabia
  • Mahan Air
  • Zest Air
  • KAM Air
  • Over 14 airlines including low-cost carriers and full service carriers
Amadeus (1987)
  • Air France
  • Iberia Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines System
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Astana
  • Air Berlin
  • Air Caraïbes
  • Air Corsica
  • Air Côte d'Ivoire
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Air France
  • Air Greenland
  • Air Mauritius
  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Serbia
  • Air Vanuatu
  • airBaltic
  • Aircalin
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Binter Canarias
  • Blue1
  • British Airways
  • British Midland International
  • Brussels Airlines [4]
  • Bulgaria Air
  • Camair-Co
  • CapeAir
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Cimber Sterling
  • Corsairfly
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Dragonair
  • EgyptAir
  • El Al
  • Estonian Air - bankruptcy
  • EVA Airways
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hex'Air
  • Hunnu Air
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines (16Nov2017)
  • KLM
  • Kenya Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Libyan Airlines
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia Airlines (10June2017)
  • MIAT Mongolian Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Montenegro Airlines
  • Niki
  • OpenSkies
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Rossiya
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Brunei Airlines
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Safi Airways
  • SATA Air Açores
  • SATA International
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Seaport Airlines
  • SilkAir
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • TACA Airlines
  • TAM Airlines
  • TAM Mercosur
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Thai Smile
  • Thomas Cook
  • Toumaï Air Tchad
  • Trans Air Congo
  • Tunisair
  • Twin Jet
  • Uni Air
  • Ural Airlines
  • Widerøe
  • XL Airways France
  • 144 Airline Passenger Service System Customers through 60,000 airline sales offices worldwide
  • 90,000 travel agencies worldwide, both offline and online, in 195 countries. Online agencies include:
    • MakeMyTrip
    • Expedia
    • ebookers
    • CheapTickets
    • Opodo
    • Jetabroad
  • 440 bookable airlines (including over 60 Low Cost Carriers)
  • Over 100,000 unique hotel properties
  • 30 Car rental companies representing over 36,000 car rental locations
  • 21 Cruise Lines
  • 203 Tour Operators
  • 103 Rail Operators
  • 23 Travel Insurance Companies
  • Japan Airlines
Hitit Crane Turkish Airline Pakistan International Airlines. Migrated from Sabre to Hitit on 09/18
Internet Booking Engine
  • Mercator
  • Qatar Airways
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • SAS Braathens
  • Over 3 individual airlines
  • Air Cuenca
  • EasyFly
  • Guinea Líneas Aéreas
  • LASER Airlines
  • LC Busre
  • Línea Aérea Amaszonas
  • MAYAir
  • Sol América
  • Star Perú
  • Tiara Air
  • Transportes Aéreos Cielos Andinos
  • Venezolana
  • Over 20 individual airlines
  • Over 10 countries in Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe
  • Travel agencies and wholesale tour operators worldwide
  • Railway Technical Research Institute
  • Hitachi
  • Japan Railways Group
  • Japanese travel agencies
  • Emirates
  • Air Algérie
  • Air Malawi
  • Fiji Airways
  • Air Tanzania
  • Air Transat
  • Air Zimbabwe
  • Citilink
  • CTK – CiTylinK
  • Comair
  • Danube Wings
  • Emirates
  • flydubai
  • InterSky
  • Merpati Nusantara Airlines
  • People's
  • Safi Airways
  • Sky Work Airlines
  • Surinam Airways
  • Syrian Air
  • Yemenia
  • Zest Airways
  • 1Time
  • Aer Arann
  • AirAsia
  • AirAsia X
  • Air Greenland
  • Air Mekong
  • Airlink
  • Alliance Airlines
  • Amerijet International
  • Azul Brazilian Airlines
  • Batavia Air
  • Blue Air
  • bmibaby
  • CanJet
  • Cebu Pacific
  • Cobham Aviation Services Australia
  • Eastar Jet
  • Firefly
  • Frontier Airlines
  • germanwings
  • Go Air
  • Gol Transportes Aéreos
  • IndiGo
  • Interjet
  • Jazeera Airways
  • Jet4you
  • Jetstar Airways
  • Jetstar Asia Airways
  • Jetstar Pacific Airlines
  • LIAT
  • Lion Air
  • Mandala Airlines
  • Monarch Airlines
  • Nas Air
  • Nok Air
  • Porter Airlines
  • Ryanair
  • Skywest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • SpiceJet
  • Strategic Airlines
  • Tiger Airways
  • TUIfly
  • Thomas Cook Airlines
  • Thai AirAsia
  • Volaris
  • Wizz Air
  • Air Nigeria
  • COPA Airlines
  • Flybe
  • Hawaii Island Air
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Finnair
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • Online travel agencies including
    • Airgorrila
    • American Express
    • Anyfares
    • Flights
  • Aerocon
  • Air Choice One
  • Air Iceland
  • Air India Express
  • Air Rarotonga
  • Air Turks & Caicos
  • BMI Regional
  • Dana Air
  • Eznis
  • Federal Air
  • Fly Dubai
  • Freedom Air Guam
  • Great Lakes Aviation
  • Gryphon
  • JetUs
  • Lydd Air
  • Mokulele
  • Nature Air
  • Polynesian
  • Primera Air
  • Rotana Jet
  • Starbow
  • Syphax Airlines
  • Transat Tours
Sabre (1960)
  • American Airlines
  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeroméxico
  • Air Malta
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Serbia
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • American Airlines
  • Avior Airlines
  • Bahamasair
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Bearskin Airlines
  • Canadian North
  • Central Mountain Air
  • Comair (South Africa)
  • COPA (Soon)
  • Cyprus Airways
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • First Air
  • Gulf Air
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue Airways
  • LAN Airlines
  • LAN Argentina
  • LAN Ecuador
  • LAN Perú
  • Oman Air
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • PenAir
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Ravn Alaska
  • SBA Airlines
  • Sun Country
  • TAM (Soon)
  • TRIP Linhas Aéreas
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Australia
  • WestJet
  • Online Travel Agencies:
    • Travelocity
    • Travel Guru
    • Priceline
  • Schedules for 400 airlines
  • 380 airline industry customers, including 44 airlines representing all major alliances
  • 88,000 hotels
  • 50 rail carriers
  • 180 tour operators
  • 13 cruise lines
  • 24 car rental brands serving 30,000 locations
  • 9 limousine vendors providing access to more than 33,500 ground service providers
  • 55,000 travel agencies in over 100 countries
  • WorldTicket
  • Over 55 regional and medium-sized airlines in Europe, Africa and Asia
SkyVantage Airline Software  
  • ABM Air
  • Africa's Connection
  • Air Century
  • Air Unlimited
  • Branson AirExpress
  • Caicos Express Airlines
  • Caribbean Helicopters Limited
  • Denver Air
  • One Caribbean
  • Pacific Airways
  • Sansa
  • Sky Bahamas
  • Sunshine Coast Air
  • Watermakers Air
  • Western Air
  • Takeflite Solutions
  • Over 50 low-cost carriers and regional airlines
Travel Technology Interactive
  • Travel Technology Interactive Group
  • Over 40 low-cost carriers, regional airlines and Legacy carriers of which
  • Air Antilles Express
  • Air Méditerranée
  • Air KBZ
  • Europe Airpost
  • Ewa Air
  • Jubba Airways
  • Our Airline
  • Passaredo Linhas Aéreas
  • Zanair
  • Travel agencies and wholesale tour operators worldwide
  • Africa World Airlines
  • Air China
  • Air Macau
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Hong Kong Express Airways
  • Shandong Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Sichuan Airlines
  • Air Manas
  • Online travel agencies including
    • Ctrip
    • eLong
    • mangocity
Travelport GDS Includes Apollo (1971), Galileo (1987) and Worldspan (1990)
  • Apollo: United Airlines.
  • Galileo: British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Alitalia, Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Olympic Airways, Sabena, TAP Air Portugal, Aer Lingus.
  • Worldspan: Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines (Northwest Airlines merged with Delta Air Lines which uses Deltamatic), Trans World Airlines (Merged with American Airlines which currently uses Sabre).
  • Zuji
  • ebookers
  • Expedia
  • Flight Centre
  • Hotels
  • Hotwire
  • Orbitz
  • Priceline
  • Trailfinders
  • Webjet
  • Travel Agencies
  • Online Travel Services
  • Airlines
  • Corporations
  • Sabre Holdings was purchased by private investors Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group on March 30, 2007, for about US$5 billion. Full year 2008 Sabre Holdings revenues were about US$3 billion.
  • In December 2006, Travelport, which owns Galileo, agreed to buy and merge with the Worldspan GDS. The combined company would then control a 46.3% market share using 2002 airline booking data.
  • Worldspan's market share is 16.9% globally and 31% in the U.S. according to 2006 MIDT airline transaction data.
  • In March 2007, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines switched from its own reservations system (CORDA) to Amadeus as a result of the merger with Air France.
  • In February 2010, JetBlue converted its reservation system over to the SabreSonic Customer Sales and Service platform.

3. Other Systems

  • Polyot-Sirena

4. Trends

For many years the GDSs had a dominant position in the travel industry. To bypass the GDS and avoid high GDS fees, airlines have started to distribute flights directly from their websites.[5] Another possibility to bypass the GDS are direct connections to the Travel Agencies. American Airlines' direct connects are a prominent example of this development.[6]


  1. 【Hitachi and Japanese National Railways】 MARS-1, Information Processing Society of Japan
  2. Early Computers: Brief History, Information Processing Society of Japan
  3. R. Blair Smith, OH 34. Oral history interview by Robina Mapstone, May 1980. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
  5. Strauss, Michael (2010): Value Creation in Travel Distribution,
  6. "American Airlines - Direct Connect". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
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