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29 June 2022 | Case study

Case study: Helping JetBlue overcome the challenges of manual COVID-19 data collection

Setting the scene

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US gave airlines two weeks to respond to a new order and adapt their organisational processes accordingly. The result? Chaos!

The CDC issued an order on 12 January 2021 requiring all air passengers arriving internationally into the US and its territories to complete an Attestation as proof of a negative COVID-19 test or having recovered from COVID-19. On October 25 2021, the CDC then announced an update to the order and only gave airlines another two weeks to respond.

Since its launch, a total of five rounds of changes have been mandated by the CDC. Despite the latest rescission of the requirement to provide a health attestation for US nationals, non-citizen immigrants are still required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States. With each revision of the order, an updated fillable attestation is generated by the CDC in PDF format, initially in English only, becoming available in other languages at a later date.

The attestation is not the only required data collection; as of November 8 2021, all passengers - including US citizens - are also required to provide Contact Tracing data, which must be stored securely.

Working with JetBlue to overcome the challenges associated with the CDC’s orders

There were a number of issues that the orders created, including:

  • Availability as a static downloadable PDF only, supported in limited languages.
  • A highly manual process of collecting, validating and processing paper forms at the airport, causing stress on staff with check-in queues that were exceeding four hours and flight delays.
  • Automated/online check-in processes being paused to ensure manual collection of the forms.
  • A requirement for storage of the paper forms (one per passenger, per flight) for two years. 
  • Contact Tracing data is required to be provided to the CDC, when requested, within 24 hours.
  • Having to manually update PNRs with SSRs to verify the attestation has been collected. 
  • A poor customer experience with passengers denied boarding without completion of the form and associated proofs required. 
  • Misalignment of data collected across different channels.

JetBlue's goals

With paper collection and storage quickly becoming unmanageable, 15below worked with JetBlue to design a solution to meet their goals of:

  • Improving customer experience
  • Providing operational efficiency
  • Enabling reporting

The 15below solution

Our automated solution means that data is collected via three methods that are fully compliant with the CDC’s order:

CDC data collection methods using 15below

How data collection works

  • A reminder notification is sent to customers who have not completed the attestation 24 hours pre-flight.
  • As with all 15below solutions, the Data Collection process has two-way communication with JetBlue’s reservation system, Sabre. Passengers’ details are validated when they access the microsite, with data pulled in from the PNR to reduce manual input by the customer. 
  • The microsite is available in any language required: JetBlue currently offers the microsite to its passengers in English, Spanish and French. Notifications sent to the customer on completion are automatically sent in the same language the form was completed in.
  • JetBlue can also automatically send reminder notifications, or prompt collection during the online check-in flow, to any passengers who have not completed the attestation and contact tracing forms.
  • Anyone who has not submitted the forms online prior to getting to the airport can also access the public microsite via a QR code in the airport. Personalisation of the form is possible and customers just need to validate who they are by entering PNR and flight information on this landing page. This removes the need for paper forms, queuing, and manual processing by airport staff at check-in.
  • SSRs for process completion and Contact Tracing data are placed on the booking in real-time, per passenger and flight, and are stored upon successful completion of the form.
  • Contract Tracing data is collected and processed in a specified IATA standard format, which is shared with the US government.

The result

Within one week of going live with our solution, JetBlue had seen 70% of all attestations completed via the microsite alone. At three months post-launch, 90% of all attestations were completed digitally, significantly easing queues at the airport and offering passengers a vastly improved travel experience. Now 100% of attestation and contact tracing data is collected via this online process.

What JetBlue had to say

Speaking about the project, Carol Clement, JetBlue’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer, said: 

“We couldn’t be happier with the results of the process we’ve developed alongside 15below. Seeing the improvement in the airport experience at our international airports has confirmed to us that this was without a doubt the right thing to do for the well-being of our customers and our crewmembers, in addition to our environment by removing the need for paper. Innovative solutions like this are key to delivering a seamless and sustainable experience in an ever-changing environment, and we look forward to partnering with 15below to build in even more process efficiencies throughout the travel ribbon.”

See how we can help

We're proud to have helped JetBlue quickly overcome the issues they faced with seemingly ever-changing CDC orders. To see how our innovative solutions can help you too, fill out our quick form and one of our team of passenger experience experts will contact you.