On Monday, United Airlines announced the official launch of its new ConnectionSaver program that will allow the airline to hold flights for customers that are arriving late for their connecting flight. United is using new software and technology to identify flights that are arriving late and hold flights for connecting customers. The connecting flights will only be held if the departing flight will still be able to make it on-time to its destination. Customers will be notified that their connecting flight is being held for them via United’s smartphone app and through text messages. Even though the company officially announced the launch of the program this past Monday, the service has been in operation at their Denver and Chicago Hubs. ConnectionSaver will continue to be in service at those airports, and United expects to expand the service to its other hubs by the fall.
As a planner and analyst of travel arrangements, United’s new connection service is a significant innovation in the airline space. When traveling, making a connection is an essential aspect of the flight experience. The connection becomes even more critical when a traveler is connecting to the last flight of the day for that destination. When a customer misses their connection, the airline will then have to put the customer in a hotel, which is an additional cost for the airline and significantly inconveniences the customer. Also, a customer may only miss the next connection flight by about 10 minutes, which is a major disappointment for travelers.
Above photo of two United Airlines Connecting Flight at Newark KEWR by InSapphoWeTrust on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons. The photo has been significatly enhanced by FlyRadius and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
Guests on United will now have greater assurance that they will be able to make their connecting flight and get to their destination on time. United will benefit from the lowered costs of not having to deal with as many missed connections and from the higher customer satisfaction as a result of the program.
Other airlines may want to take a look at what United is doing and innovate similarly.
In fact, I would improve upon what United Airlines is doing and place connection information boards at the gates and have a special team at each hub to help expedite the movement of customers who are arriving late for their connection. An airline that can significantly improve the connection experience for their guests will see greater customer satisfaction and improved results.