United Airlines is looking to minimize the number of travelers who miss a connecting flight. Earlier this week, the carrier announced it is deploying a new technology tool that it calls “ConnectionSaver,” which will help reduce the number of missed connections by automatically holding certain flights until connecting passengers arrive.
The best option to avoid missed connection if for airlines to depart and arrive on time. But as we know, that’s not always the case. If a flight is delayed, airlines have to decide whether to hold a flight for late-arriving connecting passengers, or go ahead and leave to avoid delaying other travelers. United Airlines’ new ConnectionSaver tool will automate the decision in order to find a middle ground. It claims to to reduce the number of missed connections while ensuring that other customers are not inconvenienced.
The ConnectionSaver tool analyzes flight manifests to determine if any customers are making tight connections for a given outbound flight. If so, the tool estimates when those customers are likely to get to the gate, based on a variety of factors. It then determines whether the departure can be delayed long enough for connecting passengers to board without causing the flight to arrive late. (Most flights do have some “cushion” built into their schedules.)
ConnectionSaver also automatically texts a variety of information to customers with tight connections. This includes where their incoming flight is arriving, which gate their next flight will depart from, directions between the two gates, and the expected travel time to reach the next gate. This information should make it easier for travelers on a tight schedule to make it to their next flight.
Yahoo writes that United Airlines has been testing ConnectionSaver in Denver and Chicago already. The company claims that the tool has already enabled more than 14,400 customers to make connections they otherwise would have missed, while delaying their flights’ departures by an average of just six minutes. Based on the program’s success thus far, it will be expanded to all of United’s hubs by the fall.