Tag Archives: Ideas

Want to Turn Planes Around Faster? Delta, United, and Southwest Have Some Creative Ideas
August 5, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

We saw separately how Delta Air Lines customer service agents came up with an idea that shaves a couple of minutes off turnaround time for the airline’s jets at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

I was curious whether other lines did the same or similar thing, so I reached out to all of the Big Four. Southwest and United replied, while Delta also responded with a couple of other ideas worthy of attention.

Turnaround time is a big deal. The FAA reported in 2010 that flight delays cost the U.S. economy roughly $ 32.9 billion a year. Andit’s one of the key metrics on which airlines  judge themeselves.

Here are some of the other things big airlines are doing to turn airplanes around more quickly.

45 degree pushback

This is the original idea that Delta customer service agents came up with. We’ll summarize it here: Instead of pushing an airplane straight back from the gate, then turning it 90 degrees and pushing it again, the idea is to push straight back at a 45 degree angle.

This simple change shaves about a minute or more off turnaround time, which really adds up over 1,000 or more flights a day. Delta does it at Atlanta and Detroit. And, United tells me they do a 45-degree pushback at some airports as well, “depending on a variety of factors including aircraft type and setup of gate.”

The Quick Turn Playbook

This one is all United. The airline has what it calls a “Quick Turn Playbook,” which is a proprietary document that it says outlines “how all departments work together to help reduce the amount of time it takes to service and turn an aircraft.”

“The playbook was developed with the help and input of United frontline employees,” a United spokesperson told me. “We continue to go back to employees to solicit feedback on how it can be continuously improved.”

Maybe it’s working: United ranked #1 among competitors during the Q2 of 2018 for on-time departures.

Open seating

Yes, this one is limited to only one big airline–Southwest–and they were quick to point it out when I asked about turnaround tactics. Letting passengers take any open seat “saves us valuable time and keeps our aircraft moving efficiently,” as a spokesperson put it.

It’s hard to understand why other airlines don’t copy this–perhaps not on entire plans, but maybe by letting economy passengers board in order of how expensive their fares are?

Self-parking guidance systems

Both Delta and United told me they use laser-guided parking systems at some airports and gates. 

Instead of an employee standing on the ground and guiding the plane in with a couple of orange flags or lights, the laser system lets the pilot know how to inch the plane up to the gate, and when to stop. That means the employees can get ready to hook airplanes up to ground power and do other tasks more quickly.

Not charging for checked bags

Again, this is just Southwest, which doesn’t charge bag fees for any passengers. That’s in contrast to economy class passengers on United, American and Delta.

As a result, on any given Southwest flight there are likely fewer people carrying bags onto the plane and trying to put them in an overhead compartment to avoid a bag fee. That means less blocking of the aisles, and a faster process. 

The one they’re not doing

I found a few other interesting tactics. Ryanair, the low cost European carrier, says it cut turnaround time “dramatically” by removing seat back pockets, which means there’s no place for passengers to stick trash that has to be cleaned out. 

But the interesting one is a more complicated boarding dance called the Steffen Method, after the astrophysicist who came up with it in 2014. In summary, passengers would board from the outside in: window, then middle, and then aisle. And they’d board from the back, skipping every other row.

One drawback: Travelers flying together couldn’t board together if they were really strict about the process. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t really caught on.

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Estonia's tech guru outlines ideas for digital 'estcoin'
December 19, 2017 12:51 pm|Comments (0)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Estonia could become the first country in Europe to launch its own digital means of exchange — the “estcoin” — under plans outlined by the manager of its pioneering e-residency scheme, in place since 2014.

Kaspar Korjus said in a blog post that the estcoin would be aimed at the Baltic country’s 27,000 e-residents — foreigners who open a company there via the web — but would not be a parallel currency to rival the euro.

This year’s meteoric surge in the value of Bitcoin has focused fresh attention on digital or cryptocurrencies, which to date have all been launched by private companies but are now being considered by some governments and central banks.

Korjus said estcoins could serve one of three purposes: rewarding services to the e-resident community, verifying one’s identity online, or as a means of payment pegged to the euro.

“All three of these models of estcoin are viable and can be introduced (even without alarming the European Central Bank),” Korjus wrote in the blog post.

Estonia’s central bank governor Ardo Hansson later said the estcoin was not a government initiative and that the central bank had not been consulted.

First floated in the summer, the idea of an estcoin was rebuffed by ECB President Mario Draghi, who said in September the only currency of the euro zone was the euro. An ECB spokesman would not comment further on Tuesday.

Korjus stressed the estcoin would simply be a “token” and not compete with the single currency.

But the third of Korjus’s possible designs, which he labels “euro estcoin”, envisaged that it would work as a parallel means of payment that bypasses the banking sector.

“We would never provide an alternative currency to the euro, but it’s possible that we could combine some of the decentralized advantages of crypto with the stability and trust of fiat currency and then limit its use within the e-resident community,” he said.

And the first version, described as a “community estcoin”, would it see openly traded on traditional and cryptocurrency exchanges at a later stage.

That could put Estonia on a collision course with the ECB if estcoin adoption was wide enough to have an impact on the euro zone economy and so interfere with Frankfurt’s monetary policy.

The numbers are small so far, however. A Deloitte report cited by Korjus estimates that e-residents brought 14.4 million euros to Estonia in the scheme’s first three years and foresaw a rise to 1.8 billion euros by 2025.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced earlier this month the launch of the “petro”, a digital currency backed by oil reserves, to shore up his country’s collapsed economy and circumvent U.S.-led financial sanctions.

In Europe, Sweden’s central bank has said it may introduce an e-version of the crown currency as the use of cash declines while Bank of England is also pondering whether to introduce a digital currency for use by businesses and households. But Denmark’s central bank said “no” to its own e-crown last week.

The ECB has been lukewarm on the subject but Executive Board member Yves Mersch said recently it would experiment with “cash on different digital technologies”.

Additional reporting by David Mardiste in Tallinn; Editing by Catherine Evans

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