For an airline ranked by the U.S. Department of Transportation as number one in customer satisfaction for 2016, Southwest Airlines shows no signs of resting on its laurels. The airline company takes flight with a number of enhancements this year, including saying adieu to pneumatic tubes and paper tickets. The upgrades will be carried out in 2017, with additional improvements to be implemented well into 2020.
Very soon, ramp personnel will no longer be using pneumatic tubes to send notes in canisters about luggage and other cargo to workers who have the task of calculating critical jet weight and balance and carrying the data back to the plane. Such information will soon be sent electronically.
Another change that is coming are digital transmissions that will be replacing paper printouts for personnel transporting bags to and from planes. The series of upgrades — designed to benefit company personnel as well as other target customers — are estimated to boost earnings by about $100 million a year.
Improving the Customer Experience
Improvements will also be made on the tarmac. Mechanics and other workers will be getting tablets that receive real-time information. This will help address problems in the first five minutes of an aircraft’s turn.
There are other tools will enable Southwest Airlines to better match airport staffing to flight-schedule changes.The airline company is also replacing an age-old reservation system this year, allowing it to accept foreign currency, recover more quickly from storms, and change prices as well as schedules more easily. Overall, Southwest’s Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven stated, “In 2017, we are more deliberate in our continuous improvement efforts.”
Making Way For Tech Trends of the Future
With the advent of big data analytics and artificial intelligence, various industries have been rushing to see how how they can apply these highly touted technologies to drive revenues. Among the latest technologies that are foreseen to play a crucial role in reshaping the air transport industry in 2017 and beyond are robotics.
Key airline industry players like Emirates and JetBlue, not to mention modern international airports like Changi Airport have cast attention on robotics as a technology of interest where technology investments will be poured. Robots may soon be used for tasks like handling baggage , parking of customers’ cars, or as useful customer-facing technology in airport terminals.
Organizations like EVA Air, Japan Airlines, and KLM made headlines with their use of robotic technology. Robotic projects are underway, eventually allowing various businesses and research organizations to test such high-tech trends in the airport environment.