Southwest, United and American Airlines have a new enemy: the ugliest site on the Internet

Airplane wing in flight

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I am constantly told that data is key. I’m not very convinced.

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Sometimes, the evidence of my eyes and my life experience — subjective data, we might call it — will always trump a trumpeting spreadsheet, graphic designer, or startup founder.

I wonder, then, what you might think of a site for sore eyes that desperately wants to make your life better.

When I first saw DataScalp – I know, the name doesn’t ring with beauty – I wondered if the creator’s eyes and life experience weren’t quite what they could have been.

That name may inspire some to ponder, “Dear Lord, why?” And the site, well, looks like a forgotten concoction from the less creative period of 1997.

Yet DataScalp’s mission is to improve your flying experience with, oh yeah, data. And not data provided by DataScalp, but by miserable people like you who have endured terrible flying experiences.

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What the site provides is a running score of airline cancellations, bag accuracy, on-time performance, and cancellation time to refund.

But I ask you, don’t you already find all this around the web? Doesn’t this information already exist? And, perhaps most importantly, given that Americans have so few actual choices when they fly, will this data affect human behavior?

I asked DataScalp creator Dwight Harris Jr. about some of my concerns.

He told me, “This content is based on inferential statistics to mimic information airlines actually have, but withhold. DataScalp’s content is based on basic services. It’s not based on taste, like Yelp, which is subjective.” and does not allow placement”.

He also offered an intriguing thought: “Consumers who gravitate towards good performers leave plenty of inventory for airlines, which drives prices down. Therefore, consumers via DataScalp literally impact pricing unlike than any other platform”.

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I wonder if that will be the case.

And the name? Isn’t that a bit controversial?

Not to Wright Jr.: “Scalp tickets, then DataScalp removes the ambiguity around information. By making up any company name and website that contains the word data it is extraordinarily difficult. DataScalp as a name is a godsend.”

Who am I to argue when God is invoked?

But now the airlines have organized themselves, haven’t they? At least that’s what the airlines say. Well, the Thanksgiving season seemed relatively peaceful. Transportation too Secretary Pete Buttigieg thought so.

Ah, but Harris Jr. insists things will get worse. He told me, “The only reason the Thanksgiving trip was relatively easy is due to climate change, which provided a relatively warm November. But the airlines didn’t change a thing. So when the weather gets warmer, cold, it will aggravate the problems that have always been there.”

Yes, but it’s always been like this, hasn’t it? Especially on the east coast. Nothing can change the changing tides of storms.

Harris Jr. disagrees. He said, “Airlines aren’t going to change until we have reliable customer feedback that can’t be hidden or hidden in one of those customer feedback forms. While DataScalp isn’t pretty, it’s ready to fix a bad problem: air travel.”

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I confess to finding it hard to see how the collected thoughts of angry American flyers can make a difference. It never happened. Airlines know you can complain all you want, but when four airlines own more than 80% of the seats, you have to take what you can get and be thankful you made it to your destination.

Perhaps this winter will be the takeoff for DataScalp. Hear Harris Jr.’s portentous tone: “Winter is coming for the airline industry. I expect December’s travel to be some of the worst ever.”

I guess you have nothing to lose by offering your opinions to this new Reddit of the Air. And Wright Jr. insists that his site will change human behavior. (Yes, really.)

“I’ve been working on Wall Street for a decade,” he told me. “I have successfully changed corporate behavior at the highest level. This approach has proven to work.”

Of course. Companies are people too, right?