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10 June 2022 | Case study

Case study: Managing IROPS

Setting the scene

In May 2022, severe thunderstorms were expected across the East coast of the US and airlines anticipated considerable cancellations as a result. The storms were due in over a peak holiday weekend, impacting multiple busy hubs in the region. 

In 2014, one US airline had cancelled 3,500 flights in a single day due to severe weather that was named the “Polar Vortex”. After the chaos and extreme financial impact experienced that day, the carrier now had the right technology in place that would ensure it was ready to manage May’s storms in a much calmer, efficient, and cost-effective way.

Proactive communication before the event

In the week leading up to the weather event, the airline used the platform to proactively contact all passengers that were likely to be affected by cancellations. They applied a fee waiver that would allow customers to change or cancel within a defined period without charge.

Using 15below’s proprietary flight schedule retrieve solution, the carrier was able to:

  1. Interact with a database containing their complete flight schedule to find impacted flights by date/date range and departure/arrival points. 
  2. Once identified, they were able to import flight manifests of all impacted customers from their reservations system into the 15below platform.
  3. Build rules around the PNR data to personalise the communications.
  4. Send impacted customers a notification in real-time containing a dynamic deep-link to manage their booking.

The impact of proactively inviting customers to take advantage of the fee waiver resulted in a reduced number of bookings to be managed when the storm hit. 



Managing IROPS on the day of travel

On the day of departure, the airline used a combination of 15below’s solutions to track the event and keep customers and staff updated about the weather disruption: 

Flight Status consumes a real-time feed of operational flight-event data which - combined with bespoke business rules - automatically determined when notifications should be sent to relevant customers and staff members. All notifications were sent in the relevant language and via the best communication channel for each customer by interacting with the PNR.

The IROPS Dashboard overlays the same feed of operational flight-event data and was used as a visual aid to track delays and cancellations across the operation for the remaining passengers that had not previously amended their booking.

A delay reason code was applied to each impacted flight and bespoke business rules automatically calculated the delay and how much compensation was due for this uncontrollable event. Operations Controllers were also able to apply additional goodwill credits in order to improve the experience for passengers at the airport.

The stress on the operations control centre was significantly reduced with a simple view of the IROP: A single dashboard which gave staff everything they needed to stay in control with accurate information from a single source of truth.

This included a clear, airline-specific checklist of events which was completed to ensure that all management of the IROP was carried out effectively and consistently, avoiding stress and the human error that it can trigger.