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03 June 2019 | Case study

From 4 hours to 15 minutes: How Swoop used automation to efficiently deal with disruption

Swoop: An overview

Swoop is Canada’s leading ultra-low-cost airline. It commenced operations in 2018 and is part of the WestJet Group. While its focus is on offering seats at prices that are typically 30-40% lower than average economy fares, Swoop also prides itself on a number of key differentiators.

  • A modern fleet – the average age of Swoop planes is just three years.
  • Focus on mobile – Swoop aims to offer a unique experience by prioritising mobile channels and leading the way in digital retail.
  • Fully unbundled model – passengers can select exactly what to pay for and when.

What challenges were Swoop facing?

Swoop has an intense focus on driving down costs while maximising customer service. It operates a small fleet and flies into and out of several airports that are affected by snow, ice and wind more than almost any others in the world.

  • Weather-related disruptions can ground a large proportion of its fleet – sometimes at short notice
  • Unavoidable delays and cancellations are often more likely in bad weather
  • Swoop runs a small fleet, meaning an issue affecting one aircraft can have a significant impact
  • Agents in Swoop’s call centre had to deal with thousands of schedule queries from customers
  • Intense focus on costs and efficiency
  • Previous incidents – including a lightning strike – resulted in numerous CTA complaints being filed

So why 15below?

WestJet became a customer of 15below in 2011 and successfully utilises our Disruption and Queue Manager modules.

Since launching as an ultra-low-cost carrier within the WestJet Group, Swoop understood it would be unable to offer exceptional customer service while relying on manual operations including a major call centre. It needed the latest technology that allowed it to maximise its capabilities.

Utilising the 15below platform to great effect

Swoop was previously relying on manual processes. Its team extracted flight manifests from Navitaire’s New Skies system, taking email addresses and other information from Outlook mail merges. This meant the airline required a dedicated resource to contact each passenger affected by disruption; it was unable to automate bulk sends or track what had been sent and any responses generated. Simply, this process was not scalable to meet growing business needs as Swoop expands.

What’s more, it typically took Swoop four hours to complete its response to a single act of disruption using manual processes; it now requires under 15 minutes to do so with the 15below platform.

The airline chose to deploy 15below’s industry-leading Disruption solution, allowing it to streamline and automate its response to events and actions that affect its scheduled operations.

Automation provided a solution to many of Swoop’s requirements, including:

  • Increasing the volume of notifications they are able to send
  • Reducing the time and resource required to send communications
  • Freeing call centre operatives from manual work, allowing them to perform critical and revenue-generating tasks instead
  • Utilising two-way notifications to confirm itinerary changes, track re-accommodation selections and provide visibility throughout the business
  • Integration back into to offer passengers instant self-serve options when their schedule is disrupted

What results have we achieved together?

Swoop started using the 15below platform in January 2019. The airline has already benefited from operational gains, financial savings and customer service improvements and there are more to come as the project reaches full implementation. These include:

  • A reduction in costs due to lower call centre requirements.
  • Personalised, real-time notifications are now sent to all affected passengers with only minimal human involvement.
  • Increased speed and accuracy in sharing information with travellers – human error is removed.
  • Call centre agents are freed from manual work and able to perform more critical, revenue-generating tasks.
  • Two-way interaction allows Swoop to perform greater due diligence.
  • Company mission to connect passengers with the right information at the right time on the right platform has been met.
  • An upturn in passenger sentiment and reputational value leading to greater loyalty.
  • A significant improvement in communications that has delighted customers.
  • Increased visibility for staff.

What’s next?

15below will soon deploy its Queue Manager module for Swoop, allowing automation of an even more complex series of business rules. Queue Manager will begin by sorting information within PNRs (such as special requirements for wheelchair users) and filtering these details by many other criteria.

Such refined sorting and filtering of PNRs allows airlines to perform intensive tasks – including minimum connection times, re-accommodation and schedule changes – in seconds. As a result, manual handling times and costs are significantly reduced and optimum operational efficiency is achieved.

Swoop will also adopt the Flight Status module, allowing it to keep passengers and staff up to date with all the latest travel information that is relevant to them. The solution integrates with the airline’s reservation system, FLIFO and other systems to deliver accurate notifications to travellers, ensuring they remain in control in the build-up to departure.

Disruption to flight schedules can be unpredictable and cause huge financial and reputational losses. Read about our CEO's experience of being caught up in the Gatwick drone incident in December 2018.