Tag Archives: Planes
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.
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.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
They say you should get out ahead of a bad story.
Present your version before the story hits, so that people can have good feelings about you before aspersions are cast.
I wonder, therefore, what Allegiant Air might do this weekend.
I wrote about this airline a couple of years ago, after it had been accused of having planes that break down four times more often than those of other airlines.
In mid-air, that is.
Of the airline’s 86 planes, it was said that 42 of them had broken down in mid-air the previous year.
The airline fought back and claimed that the accusations were “incendiary.” Indeed, its stock went up 24 percent soon after the original Tampa Bay Times article was published.
Now, though, Allegiant might have a bigger PR problem.
On Sunday, it’ll be featured in a 60 Minutes segment, one that CBS teases will be twice the usual length.
Here’s the teaser.
Just those 48 seconds suggest that Allegiant should brace for something of calm, considered skewering.
I asked the budget airline what it thought of the upcoming exposé. A spokeswoman told me Allegiant would wait until the segment airs before offering a rebuttal.
One of the main issues with Allegiant’s record of breakdowns is that it flies old planes. Very old planes, some 22 years of age.
Recently, though, it has begun to replace these planes with Airbuses. Indeed, last May was the first time that Allegiant enjoyed the experience of fitting out a new(ish) plane.
The question, then, is how much Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece will reflect the whole current scenario.
The problem for the airline’s PR department, though, is that Allegiant will surely come out looking not so good on one of the most respected news programs in America, one that’s watched by 12 million people.
It’s inevitable, then, that it will instantly be associated with the sort of bad reputation that plagued United Airlines over the last year.
Worse, perhaps, is the idea that instead of a brutal lack of customer sensitivity — as in the United case — Allegiant might be tarred with the notion that it’s simply an unsafe airline.
On Friday, the airline’s stock began to drop. What might happen to it on Monday?
On Friday morning, another Samsung-related phone incident took place onboard an aircraft carrier, but much to everyone’s surprise, it wasn’t a Galaxy Note7.
A Samsung Galaxy Note 2 — released back in 2012 — caught fire mid-air on an IndiGo plane en route to Chennai from Singapore. Passengers noticed smoke in the cabin and notified crew members, who discovered it was coming from a Samsung Note 2 in the overhead bins and extinguished the fire.
Following the incident, the aviation authority in India issued a statement directed to all Samsung Note users: turn off your phones or leave them at home. Read more…