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Best DNS Solutions for the Airline Industry

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Heather Oliver is a Technical Writer for Constellix and DNS Made Easy, subsidiaries of Tiggee LLC. She’s fascinated by technology and loves adding a little spark to complex topics. Want to connect? Find her on LinkedIn.

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John H. Secondari, writer of TV series The Saga of Western Man wrote: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.” Convenience and speed aside, perhaps this is why people all around the world take to the skies each year. Whatever the reason, it enables the airline industry to contribute a yearly average of $1.7 trillion to the US economy in a combination of activity and jobs. Being such a major segment of the hospitality business, it is essential that airline websites and systems have an effective DNS strategy in our current and future market.

In this white paper, we discuss how airlines have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, post-COVID projections, common DNS-related problems pertaining to aviation, and the solutions that can help the industry overcome these challenges.

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Best DNS Performance for Airlines
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Why a Strong DNS Strategy is Critical For Airlines

Just like many other branches of the hospitality industry, airlines require a strong online presence to be competitive in today’s digital climate. It’s crucial that company websites are available whenever customers need them. As tourism and business-related travel aren’t limited by state, or country for that matter (pandemic rules aside), potential customers are searching for flights at all hours. 

In 2016, as much as 39% of U.S. flights were booked online and this trend has been growing rapidly ever since. In fact, 82% of all travel-related reservations were made exclusively online by 2018 and it is projected that as many as 700 million people will be booking airfare online by 2023. 

Searching for flights via the web is so popular as it gives you an array of flights to choose from and the ability to decide which flight best fits your schedule and budget. There is no wait time for online searches or bookings and people are free to browse and take their time making a selection. 

Furthermore, airline systems hold a significant amount of personal customer data, such as name, address, phone number, and credit card information. With such a large number of consumers booking airfare online and the amount of sensitive information contained within airline systems, DNS is not something to underestimate. 

Challenges For Aviation Domains

  • A slow-loading website can cause a consumer to book with a competitor. 
  • Unreliable DNS or a provider with an inferior infrastructure leaves domains vulnerable. 
  • IT disruptions, DNS outages, and cyber threats such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks can result in devastating consequences for airlines. 

How Airlines Have Been Affected by the Pandemic

While it has certainly had its ups and downs, aviation has had a relatively steady track record due to business-related trips and tourism. However, the airline industry suffered significant losses due to COVID-19 and the ensuing global travel restrictions and stay at home orders. 

In early 2020, flights were nearly empty and operating at as little as 20% of typical schedules for domestic flights, and even less for international flights. In fact, demand for flights throughout all of 2020 were down by a staggering 65.9% in contrast to 2019—an all time historical low. Another alarming pandemic effect is the loss of direct aviation jobs, which fell by 43% of pre-COVID numbers.

Post-COVID Projections for the Aviation Industry

With COVID cases declining and vaccines now widely available, hope is on the horizon for airlines. Travel is expected to pick up in 2021, but experts predict aviation will see it’s largest post-COVID increase in 2022, with international flights fully recovering in 2023-2024.

While airlines are currently still operating at reduced capacity on flights, 2021 is estimated to only have a reduction in passenger travel between 35 and 39%, a much more promising figure than the 50% reduction seen last year.

The good news is that air travel has been increasing since December of 2020. As more people are vaccinated and travel restrictions continue to lift, domestic flights will soon be in high demand once again.

Considering the projections that airlines will still be operating at a loss despite the increase in travel, businesses in the aviation industry need to do everything they can to remain competitive in the online market. It’s imperative that your airline website is ready for the post-COVID boom!

How Website Performance Affects Airlines

What role does DNS play when it comes to the post-COVID boom? Your website’s performance—specifically: speed, uptime, and security.

DNS is how internet users reach websites. Any time a person connects to the internet to access a website or online resource, your computer contacts a recursive web server that either responds with information it has in its cache, or it goes through the process of contacting other servers (Root, TLDs, and Authoritative DNS servers) until it receives the final answer to the initial query. The server that typically provides the final answer to DNS lookups is an Authoritative DNS server.

Even if you’ve taken every possible step to optimize your website for peak performance, if your DNS is slow, you’re essentially turning down customers without even realizing it. Moreover, if your DNS provider experiences an outage, your website goes down as well. 

A mere one-second delay in load time for a website can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions. Speed is also now a large part in SEO page ranking. To put this in perspective, the airline industry produced approximately $248 billion in 2019 in the United State alone. A 7% loss in conversions (overall) would equal $17,360,000 in potential revenue. 

Studies have also shown that 75% of consumers choose not to purchase from websites with long load times. Airline companies are not immune to this. It all boils down to user experience. A resounding 88% of users claim they are less likely to revisit a website after a negative experience. Airlines, specifically, receive an average page score of 9s, and some as much as a 13s page load time, which undoubtedly leads to lost sales and customer dissatisfaction.

How Downtime and Outages Affects Airlines

As shown above, website performance can be damaging to your business, but outages and downtime are much worse—costing companies thousands of dollars per minute. With outages, you also have to factor in the costs of IT staff, decreased employee productivity, and brand reputation on top of the cost of the actual downtime.

Even a brief outage can cause customers to book elsewhere. The effects of downtime can be long-reaching. Regardless of the reason your website wasn’t available, many consumers will consider it a negative experience with your brand and choose competitor flights.

As you can see, slow speeds and downtime can lead to exuberant unexpected costs for the aviation industry. You don’t have to accept this as just part of doing business online. Most DNS-related issues can be avoided with the right strategy and solutions in place.

It is vital that you choose a strong DNS provider that performs at industry-leading speeds, guarantees 100% uptime, and has options for redundancy at every point of failure.

Common Cyber Threats Against Airlines

Cybercriminals have long-since expanded their attention from just internet service providers—and the aviation industry has become a huge target in recent years. For example, between 2017 and 2018, cyber attacks against airlines increased by more than 15,000%! This alarming trend has only grown.

One of the most popular attacks aimed toward airlines are distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which can cause long periods of downtime for unprepared domains. Outages don’t just affect your bottom line, they create negative customer experiences and have long-lasting impacts on your brand reputation.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted interviews with 34 airlines and confirmed that 85% of outages led to the inability to check-in or scan boarding passes, delayed flights, lost baggage, and more. There is no denying outages from DDoS and other cyber attacks are a major concern for aviation companies.

Fortunately, these threats can be prevented at the DNS level. 

DNS Solutions for Airlines

After thoughtful analysis of the aviation industry and the unique problems it faces, we have designed custom DNS solutions that airlines can implement to combat these issues.

IP Filtering

IP filtering allows you to funnel traffic to servers based on the location of your customers. This provides faster query resolution and enhances the overall performance of your domain. IP filtering also lets you create a firewall at the DNS level, which allows you to block malicious or unwanted traffic before it can cause damage to your network and systems.

Using IP filtering is particularly helpful when you notice anomalies or a sudden increase in traffic, as you can block the country where the bad traffic is coming from and instruct your server to drop the query. 

Use Case: Segment traffic based on location by filtering by region to send end users to alternate websites or servers or block a specific location, ASN, or subnet from accessing your network. 

Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection

Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection (RTTAD) is a fully scalable, intelligent service that utilizes machine learning and allows you to make proactive decisions based on your domain’s traffic. With this solution, you’ll be able to detect unusual or malicious activity in real-time, and thereby prevent disruptions for your customers. This is especially beneficial for combating DDoS attacks or for identifying inconsistencies or misconfigurations that could lead to spikes in queries. 

Monitoring can be specified by world, region, or city, and you receive instant alerts when anomalies occur outside of your regular traffic patterns. You can also view historical traffic data for your domain and compare it to real-time metrics, for the ultimate efficiency, protection, and peace of mind. 

Use Case: Receive alerts any time suspicious spikes in queries are detected. See where traffic is coming from and make decisions based on your unique, real-time DNS data to ensure optimal server performance or to block malicious traffic before it damages your domain(s). 


Load Balancing: Weighted Round Robin with Failover

Weighted Round Robin will distribute queries across multiple IPs or hosts (depending on record type) based on specified values. The advantage to this technique is that values don’t have to be equal and can be based on capacity size, location, or speed. 

Paired alongside Failover and you have the added protection of redundancy. If an IP or host in your Weighted Round Robin configuration becomes unavailable, the unhealthy resource will not be returned.

Use Case: Optimize your network and prevent server overload by allocating traffic to servers based on speed or capacity and ensure traffic will be redirected to only healthy resources in the event one goes down or experiences issues.

Why Constellix

Constellix is an advanced, DNS-focused platform with highly sophisticated features, such as proprietary, in-depth analytics, Real-time Anomaly Detection, Multi-CDN decisions, IP filtering, GeoDNS, weighted load balancing, and more. We’re backed by the same network as our sister company, DNS Made Easy, which has dominated the industry in performance and uptime since 2001. 

No other authoritative DNS provider has such a powerful set of features, consistent, lightning-fast speeds, and such a long outage-free history. 

For information on Constellix’s products and services contact us. Our specialists will be happy to discuss your specific needs and work with you to find the perfect DNS solutions for your business.

References

Airlines for America. 2021

‘Catastrophic’ year for air travel demand. 2021. IATA.

Commercial Aviation: Information on Airline IT Outages. 2019. U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Deane, S. 2021. Over 60 Online Travel Booking Statistics (2021). Stratos Jet Charters, Inc.

Effects of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Civil Aviation: Economic Impact Analysis. 2021. ICAO.

Elliott, C. Hackers Are Targeting Airlines In Record Numbers. Here’s What That Means For You. 2019. Forbes.

English, D. 2020. The famous quote that da Vinci never said. AIR FACTS.

IATA Travel Pass to provide confidence for industry restart. 2021. IATA.

January 2021 U.S. Airline Traffic Data. 2021. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 

Mazareanu, E. 2020. Passenger airlines in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts. Statista.

Patterson, Thorn. 2016. How do airline computer systems work? CNN Business. 

Percentage of travel booking made online worldwide in 2016 and 2020, by region. 2020. statista.

Temblador, A. 2019. Research Shows Hackers Are Attacking Airlines More Than Ever. Travel Pulse.

The impact of COVID-19 on aviation. 2021. IATA.

Total operating revenue streams of U.S. airlines from 2004 to 2020 (in billion U.S. dollars). 2021. statista.

Wallace, G. 2020. Thousands of grounded planes. Nearly empty flights. How the coronavirus is affecting US airlines. CNN.

Why Web Performance Matters: Is Your Site Driving Customers Away? 2011. White paper. Gomez.

Win Website Performance Race. 2020. Euristiq.

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