Saying farewell to Fred Foote, the maestro of fares, baggage, dynamic pricing, and more
One thing that’s special about the airline industry is that its people have a dedication I’ve never seen elsewhere. Careers span decades, and ATPCO is lucky to have these enthusiastic experts. But one in particular sticks out for us.
Fred Foote began his career in the industry at US Air then moved to Sabre Holdings for almost a decade before a quick stint at Galileo (now part of Travelport). ATPCO landed Fred in 1998, and for almost 22 years, he has been tirelessly working in our product team to successfully automate fundamental pricing strategies. As he prepares to enjoy a well-earned retirement, I sat down with his long-time work partner in crime, Melanie Dezelak, to get the real story of his tenure.
Hey Melanie, thank you so much for chatting with me! How are you?
I’m great! It’s a little early but I’m already on my second cup of coffee, so it’s a good day.
Well, I’ll just jump in and ask about Fred. How long have you and Fred known each other?
Well, funny story. When I was in high school, Fred used to live across the street from my school. I’d even park my car in front of his house! So we were always meant to be friends. But we didn’t professionally meet until I joined his on-going team on the Negotiated Fares (Category 35) and Fare by Rule (Category 25) projects in June of 2002. Our goal was to create a single automated source for the collection and distribution of existing manual rules and processes. It was a massive undertaking that had to encapsulate all airline requirements and take into account GDS functionality.
It’s amazing to think that the technology of the industry has changed so drastically over the last 20 years.
And Fred has been a critical piece to it all. After those two projects ended, we had to start right on an automated baggage solution. Baggage was even bigger than Negotiated Fares and Fare by Rule. I mean, there were so many moving parts and the regulations that went with it were insane. Fred worked really closely with the US Department of Transportation and IATA, interpreting their rulemaking requirements and ensuring that the ATPCO solution satisfied those requirements.
And he did so much more than those big three projects. He worked on Ticketing Fees, the BIN Answer Table, the Baggage Calculator solution, and date processing. There’s too many to mention, honestly, but for everything that he worked on, he was integral to its success.
He’s worked on so many! What’s the last big project that Fred got to work on during his tenure at ATPCO?
What’s most important to the industry right now is his work with Dynamic Pricing, specifically Dual RBD Validation. Dual RBD Validation is the first viable dynamic solution defined by ATPCO for the industry. What’s funny, and what I think shows off just how innovative he is, is that Fred brainstormed this idea entirely on his own. He sent an email around to the team discussing this brilliant idea that, after a few go arounds, we all understood and worked diligently to get it out to the industry through the implementation guide. And airlines today are using that implementation guide to enhance their pricing strategies.
Why do you think Fred has been so successful in the work that he’s done for the industry?
Honestly, it’s because he truly cares about doing the right thing for our customers. He spends time understanding the business needs so we can design the right solutions to benefit the industry. Add that to the fact that he’s super smart and does an incredible job leading industry meetings—he’s dedicated to this industry. I’m always in awe of how much industry knowledge he has. Fred’s quick: he can think on his feet and respond to any question or proposal an airline or system has.
With all that he does, how are we going to go on without him?
(laughs) I don’t know! Really though, he’s played an integral role in the innovation of the industry and we’ll be sad to see him go. We’ll all have to put in a little extra effort to try to fill the gap left by Fred.
The backbone of our industry is people like Fred Foote. His tenacity, intelligence, and dedication has changed the landscape of the industry forever. His current work has set the next iteration of innovation in motion. And the industry, and ATPCO, are forever thankful for the work that he’s done.
Congratulations, Fred. We’ll miss you.