Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & TechUnited Airlines is testing a new feature that provides more detailed alerts to delayed travelers as Houston's rainy summer season approaches.
May 16, 2018
Why Is Your Plane Delayed? United Testing System That Provides More Details
Instead of simply telling customers their plane is delayed due to weather, United is beta testing mobile alerts that provide fuller descriptions on how the weather is affecting their flight. The program is called Every Flight Has a Story, and it will send alerts about delays over 1 hour via text, email and the airline's mobile app.
"We wanted to be able to give the customers as much information as possible, be as transparent as possible, because we respect their time," said Mike Erbeck, who oversees United's traffic in and out of Bush Intercontinental Airport.
If travelers get additional details, he said, they can decide whether they want to wait it out, take a different flight or cancel a business meeting. Every Flight Has a Story is being tested in Houston and Chicago, and it also provides information on flights that are delayed for other reasons, such as maintenance.
This is just one factor into how United prepares for and handles thunderstorms, Erbeck said. It all begins by looking at the forecast five days out. Three days out his team starts making plans, and they execute those plans 24 hours ahead of the flight.
Such plans include notifying customers about potential delays and contacting airports where flights might be diverted to ensure they have enough staff and equipment. Erbeck and his team also coordinate with air traffic control, providing information so the controllers can start modeling how much traffic will need to go through the airspace once it reopens.
After air traffic control makes its arrangements, United goes to its network operations in Chicago to determine the best way to route planes so that people who've missed connecting flights don't miss their rescheduled flights.
"You can't control the weather," Erbeck said, "but you always try to control what you can."
That's why planes headed to destinations with bad weather are given extra fuel as a precaution, providing pilots the option of circling a few times or taking a different route to avoid the storm if needed. Ground stops are called when the storm is directly on top of the airport, which isn't as common as slowing or rerouting planes.
Copyright 2018 Hearst Newspapers, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.chron.com. By Andrea Rumbaugh.
To view the Internet Travel Monitor Archive, click https://www.tripinfo.com/ITM/index.html.