Showing posts from 2015

KLM’s 150 social media customer service agents generate $25M in annual revenue

Social business leader KLM, the airline that kickstarted the modern customer-support-via-social-media revolution, has 150 people dedicated to serving clients via social. And each of them represents almost $170,000 in annual revenue. Perhaps social’s not a money sink anymore. klm“Social is more and more becoming a profit center,” KLM’s social media manager Gert-Wim ter Haar told me today in Prague. “It’s first about service, then brand and reputation, but also about commerce … we have to make money.” In addition to finding lost items, soothing bruised egos, and solving customer service issues, KLM social agents now can almost entirely manage new client bookings via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. They’ll get desired flight details, timing, provide information on pricing, and, if the client is agreeable, provide a direct link to a payment page. As soon as the credit card is processed, the KLM agents are notified and tell the client that their ticket is booked. This

Your Chance of a Flight Cancellation May Depend on Who the Other Passengers Are

When airlines need to cancel flights because of weather or other problems, they’ll sometimes delete flights carrying leisure passengers, who tend to pay lower fares than business travelers and are more likely to accept a rebooking rather than demand a refund, says the Wall Street Journal. Just 20% of leisure passengers get refunds, compared with 30% of business travelers. Airlines try hard to avoid cancellations, in part because of the cost of refunds and wasted food but also because if seats are given to rebooked passengers, they can’t be sold to last-minute, full-fare business passengers.

Split Scimitar Winglets set to become a common sight

If you think that you've been seeing some funny-looking airliners in the past couple of months, you're not imagining things. On February 18th, a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 made the world's first commercial flight by an aircraft equipped with fuel-saving Split Scimitar Winglets. Regular blended winglets are now quite common on commercial aircraft, as they improve aerodynamics and thus reduce fuel consumption. Made by Aviation Partners Boeing, the Split Scimitar Winglets reportedly do an even better job – when retrofitted onto United's existing Next Generation 737 Blended Winglets, they should reduce fuel consumption by two percent per aircraft. The airline plans to add the new winglets to its entire fleet of 737, 757 and 767 airliners. By doing so, it estimates that it will save "more than 65 million gallons [246,051,780 liters] of fuel a year, equivalent to more than 645,000 metric tons [710,991 tons] of carbon dioxide and $200 million per year in jet

A crash course in probability

GULLIVER will soon fly from Heathrow to Milan on a British Airways Airbus A319. That flight has a one-in-4.8m chance of crashing. Shortly after he is jetting from Heathrow to JFK on a Virgin-operated A330. Chance of crashing? One in 5.4m. That means that he could apparently expect to fly on the route for 14,716 years before plummeting into the Atlantic. These figures come courtesy of “Am I Going Down?”, a recently released iPhone app that claims to calculate the odds of a disaster on a particular flight. Users input three variables: the departure and arrival airports, the airline, and the type of plane used. The app's maker hasn't responded to requests to give a little more detail of its methodology, but one presumes that it is a simple weighting of the proportion of crashes associated with each of those variables in the past. There are, of course, countless holes in such a simplistic approach. How does one decide the relative importance of the make of plane, airline or

Airlines to public: please ignore this blog post

THERE’S nothing like a pair of big corporations suing a 22-year-old kid to turn an obscure loophole into a viral internet sensation. On November 17th United Airlines, one of the three giant American carriers, and Orbitz, an online travel agency, filed a federal lawsuit demanding damages “in excess of $75,000” against Aktarer Zaman, a recent college graduate and the creator and owner of the website Skiplagged. The service enabled users to discover cheap airfares that did not appear on competing engines’ searches by utilising a tactic known as “hidden-city ticketing”, which takes advantage of occasional anomalies in airlines’ pricing algorithms. Ever since America deregulated air travel in 1978, the leading carriers have developed “hub-and-spoke” route networks, which require passengers to connect through a few strategically located airports en route to most destinations. This system has vastly reduced costs by allowing airlines to pack the same number of travellers into far fewer