Southwest Airlines Uses Data Science to Increase Boarding Speeds


For low-cost carriers whose seat arrangements are still undecided, Southwest Airlines in an attempt to speed up the frustratingly slow process of boarding passengers. This time, the budget carrier will use data science and experiment Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this month.


Southwest’s turnaround time is too long

For context, Southwest Airlines was known for turning around planes in 10 minutes or less as part of its “10-minute turnaround” strategy. Such a strategy was feasible in the early 1970s, when low-cost carriers offered only about 14 trips a day. Dallas and HoustonSeven new routes opened between Dallas and San Antonio, and between Houston and San Antonio.

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Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 in flight

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Normal flight

However, due to the increasing number of airlines and increasing passenger demand increased turnaround timeGiven that in the pre-pandemic years, the average flight time for an airline was about 40 minutes. The airline still has the fastest service today turning time In terms of narrow body aircraft operations, this is still far from the previous “10 minute turnaround”. The difference comes from many factors, especially when boarding.

The non-allocated seating policy in South-West means yes passengers Seating is provided only and seating is free for all. It can cause anxiety; There is often a feeling of running from the gate to the plane as some try to ‘beat the others’ to the seats they want. As you can imagine, rushing towards the passengers aircraft generally creates disorganized queues and affects turnaround time.

Another important factor is sometimes lacking aircraft bridge Passengers are attracted and distracted during boarding and pause to take selfies in front of the plane. There’s no doubt that apron photography and videography is always exciting and memorable, but it does cause delays from time to time. sit down and unloading process.

Southwest is turning to data science for help

The budget carrier has experimented with various alternatives to the traditional boarding process to reduce queue times, including testing double boarding and de-boarding during busier times. airports. Although dual boarding and scheduling exemptions have shown faster turnaround times, the availability of such systems often depends on airport facilities, Southwest Airline Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality Steve Goldberg pointed out:

“It’s not as easy as going up another flight of stairs and saying, ‘Shoot or sit.’

CEO Bob Jordan feels the same way low cost carrier need to invest more in data science and begin to innovate to iron out the boarding process. Using data science, Southwest Airlines can collect real-time feedback and monitor the boarding process as it implements pilot approaches such as boarding families first and seating them in the back of the plane.

Budget carriers can use data science and real-time data to better understand the best times for passengers to board and fly, when bottlenecks occur, and the factors that drive them. In addition, data science can help an airline predict possible solutions that can be applied immediately when such situations arise, enabling immediate correction of delays during boarding or flight.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX

Photo: Getty Images

The bottom line

With the help of data science, Southwest Airlines can test several changes to its boarding process and get real-time feedback. If the fixes work, the airline will decide to implement them permanently. However, the airline is keen to ensure that such changes do not alter its low-cost business model and do not affect EarlyBird and Priority Class flights.

Source: Dallas Morning News

  • Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 San Francisco

    Southwest Airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:
    WN/SWA

    Type of Air Transport:
    Low cost carrier

    Center(s):
    Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dallas Love Field, Denver International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, Los Angeles International Airport airports, Midway International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    Year of establishment:
    1967

    Executive Director:
    Robert Jordan

    Country:
    United States



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