Airline Innovation Could Take A Bite Out Of Delays

from the stuck-in-a-holding-pattern dept

It will come as no surprise to air travelers that this year has been the worst on record for flight delays and cancellations. Since technology failures played a role in some of the year's worst headaches, it's a fair question to ask whether better technology might fix what's broken with air travel. There's little debate that the nation's air traffic control system needs updating; contentions arise over who will take responsibility for it. Yet, while the FAA and the airline industry might spend another decade hashing out major infrastructure upgrades, the airlines should be investing now in technology that can provide relief to their customers in the short term. Investments to improve areas such as crew management, gate management, and flight scheduling, would take compounding bites out of the problem of delays. Yield management systems, technology in which airlines already invest substantial sums, could be tweaked to account for goodwill lost to cancellations and delays. Most significantly, more information given to air travelers, both at the time they purchase tickets and at the time they fly, will arm them to make better decisions about when, where, and whether or not to get on an airplane. Airlines would do well to consider how technology innovation could improve their customers' experience. Much as JetBlue distinguished itself early on by offering superior service, passengers will reward an airline that provides an overall better travel experience. Airlines need not fear the costs of making these investments, because the cost of not making them could be much higher. Witness, again, JetBlue, whose reputation and stock price have still not recovered from customer relations missteps made earlier this year. Instead, airlines that employ new tech to take some of the pain out of air travel may join the growing number of companies who find themselves rewarded by shareholders for providing better service to their customers.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Seth, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 5:03pm

    You didn't really say anything

    I am left sitting here thinking that I knew all of this already. Nothing new was really said here. Update crappy old flight systems, give customers more information and make sure airlines representatives say "Sorry you flight is delayed" with a smile.

    No to be an ass, but why did you write this post?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    Re: You didn't really say anything

    The notion that goodwill can be factored into yield management is pretty straightforward, but not totally obvious. It was worth reading here for that at least.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 5:30pm

    Re: You didn't really say anything

    I am left sitting here thinking that I knew all of this already. Nothing new was really said here.

    If it's so obvious... how come most airlines aren't doing it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Seth, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re: You didn't really say anything

    Really? Gov't agencies, huge costs and an industry that lives on bail-outs. The airlines that make even a small attempt on any one of these are rewarded quite hansomly, as was pointed out with JetBlue.

    Just because the pain points are obvious doesn't mean the solutions are easy to put into place. That is why I was surprised Dan even wrote about these. All of these areas have been dicussed before, so wasn't sure what he was going after with this post. Nothing new was really brought up. No novel proposal to fix any one of these problems, or new piece of information that recently came to light.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 5:58pm

    Aside from weather, the biggest cause of delays is that every airline wants to have their arrivals and departures in the same "prime" time slots. As long as they do that, there can be no solution to airport delays.

    The thing that annoys people more than delays is finding out that the person in the next seat paid half the price. That's yield management in action. Yield management has one goal - maximizing profit. If they were that worried about goodwill, they would eliminate yield management.

    "companies who find themselves rewarded by shareholders"
    Companies are not rewarded by shareholders. Shareholders are the company's owners. Customers reward or punish companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:21pm

    Airline margins are already thin, so investments in things like this are difficult. The end result of this is that JetBlue gets hosed. If it were all infrastructure, shouldn't JetBlue automatically be better as their systems and networks are newer?

    Airelines can't eliminate yield management. Without high price tickets, they lose money on the flight. Wonder why you get treated crappy when you buy a $150 dollar flight while the businessman sitting next to you paid $500? If everyone on the flight had the $150 ticket, every seat full, the airline would lose money on the flight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Fred Smith, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    There's a Huge Problem with this Article

    The first two words - Airline Innovation -indicates the article is a fantasy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    FirstComment, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 10:27pm


    This is not innovation. This is carefully-planned, gradually implemented process optimization. Boring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 12:28am

    Its not the delays which piss me off

    Its the level to which security has gone through the roof and become farcical - not to mention the fascist's they employ to enforce it

    For gods sake whats wrong with a bottle of water and why is 100ml suddenly alright? On that note why is a bottle of Vodka bought in the lounge alright?

    No one yet has been able to explain the ridiculous lengths of security yet to me without going off on unsubstantiated "doom" warnings

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    James, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    What delays?

    I've flown 4 times this year and haven't experienced a delay (of any measurable notice) yet; and I flight out of Atlanta one of the busiest (if not the busiest) airports in the world.

    I try to fly mornings (9am) before the errors of the day compound into a longer delay. Security? Never been an issue .. 20 maybe 30 minutes if it was backed up. And Enrico, be thankful for them. They may have some assinine rules and not be perfect but if they keep one nutcase off the plane its worth it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Thorsten Kravic, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 8:32am

    A never Ending Story

    Over here in Germany, delays aren't exclusive to airline travel, but quite common. The cheaper the tickets get, the less probable is a timly arrivla, regardless which means of transportation you choose. Reading this thing from about a year ago just made me realize how many possible improvements actually *didn't happen* in the time that passed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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