Damn you GrabASeat.co.nz!!
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is the first post in a while as I’ve been very busy, so I’ve got some “blog-rant” credit to spend. Hence this post.
My side project for the past couple of weeks has been building a XML feed grabber for the Air New Zealand Grab A Seat web site – a nice little flash site that posts cheap flights around NZ and rarely some long haul destinations.
I moved to Wellington about 6 months ago, leaving behind a girlfriend and friends in Auckland, so I check out the Grab A Seat web site every morning religiously to try and find a cheap return flight. This obviously gets a bit tedious, and the web site lacks any form of notification system, so I decided to build one.
So my grabber has been working quite nicely for me for the last week or so – whenever it sees a new deal that matches one of my subscriptions (a rule, specifying a origin and destination) it sends me an email and tells me to get my ass to the Air NZ site quickly to book a seat before it sells out.
Brilliant! It was working well for me, and I had big plans for it. I was going to put it up on the web for everyone else to use… that was, until this morning.
The data feed is now encrypted! This is soo Web 1.0, walled-garden, proprietary, closed minded, and unfriendly. I have to wonder if they’ve been checking their User Agent referral logs recently and seen a peak in non-web-browsers (I was too lazy to spoof my user agent).
How does this hurt Air NZ’s business? Surely notifying people to their flights, which they have to go to the site to buy, would be helping Air NZ? It’s not as if they’re making money off page views through advertisements or anything?
So now I either have to crack their encryption, which sounds hard and possibly illegal, or figure out another way to screen scrape the site, or convince Air NZ to share their data – taking a page from the likes of Amazon perhaps.
I’m flying Qantas next time (they feed you as well [a nice chicken pie last time]).