Airlines Apply Lessons of Bummer Summer
by Scott McCartney in his regular column, "The Middle Seat".
A few things mentioned:
"After lessons learned this summer, some say they will now hold back empty seats at peak travel periods, starting at Thanksgiving, to be able to more quickly re-accommodate travelers who miss connections and get stranded. Several carriers are stretching out schedules, adding minutes to scheduled time between flights. More spare aircraft will be available next summer, airlines say. New technology at a few airlines will help rebook customers more quickly and less painfully."
They cover specifically the fact that US added 30 minutes to the operating day, spreading out the flights. Also, they added one a/c to the shuttle operation on the East Coast so they can reassign tail numbers quicker.
AA is selling a few less seats during peak times starting this Thanksgiving so there are more seats to rebook pax. They are also adding 5-7 more minutes between flights. They are also redoing a priority list for rebooking pax that are stranded.
"First-class and business-class passengers get top priority, along with unaccompanied minors and disabled travelers. High-dollar coach passengers and elite-level frequent fliers rank high. Cheap-ticket passengers get the lowest priority -- and American has recently begun showing on its Web site whether certain fares get priority when forced onto the standby list."
One interesting note is that the booking systems in place before didn't take into account whether or not a pax is going to miss the flight. If they are not going to make it, their seat on the next leg was still blocked out. Now, on AA, that seat is freed up if they know you aren't going to be there to use it. That way, it can accommodate other rebooked pax.
UA is putting the boarding pass kiosks in the secure areas of the terminal so pax can get new boarding passes without waiting in line. Good move.
All in all, very good news.