15below Case Study: Minimising the impact of storm disruption



Case Study: Minimising the impact of storm disruption


East Asia cold wave

Just weeks into the 2016 New Year, a cold wave wreaked havoc across Taiwan and other East Asian countries bringing record temperatures cold weather, and varying degrees of snowfall. Cancelled flights and severe delays left tens of thousands of passengers stranded at airports across the region.


US East Coast snow storms

Meanwhile, across the ocean, the US east coast was facing an anticipated record-breaking blizzard. Rivalling the scale of travel disruption experienced during the Polar Vortex storms in 2014, delays and cancellations rippled out internationally affecting well over 100,000 passengers throughout the weekend of the 23rd January 2016.


Somewhere in the world, severe weather is causing long delays to stranded passengers and costly cancellations to travel companies. Without the right technology, this level of disruption can have a catastrophic effect on any airline.


Case Study: Minimising the impact of disruption during the Polar Vortex storms


In this case study, we take a look at how one US-based airline minimised the impact of severe disruption during the 2014 Polar Vortex storms using passenger communications technology.


The airline needed a technology solution that could:

  1. Efficiently manage high spikes in call centre contact volumes, taking into consideration the fact that many staff were themselves stranded and unable to work
  2. Automatically re-accommodate stranded passengers as quickly as possible and get them to their final destination
  3. Help them retain high levels of customer service throughout disruption, strengthening customer loyalty through their handling of the event
  4. Minimise the operational, financial and brand impact of disruption

What was delivered?

  • Real-time, authoritative and personalised notifications to keep passengers and staff informed and in control
  • Tailored notification delivery via four different communication channels, according to preference and what contact details were available within each passengers’ PNR – maximising reach and effectiveness of communication
  • 24/7 technical support and system capacity to handle huge spikes in call volumes
  • Automated re-booking process notifying passengers of alternative flights they had been booked onto – reducing the number of inbound calls and on-ground support needed.

The results

Over the course of 24 hours, this US-based airline was able to send 225,000 targeted notifications to their customers across four different channels of communication. 75,000 of those notifications were advising passengers of alternative flights they had automatically been booked onto, with no further need to contact the airline.

Number and type of notifications sent over 13-day period



Passenger communications technology allowed this US-based airline to communicate with over 200,000 passengers about the Polar Vortex disruption in a fast and efficient manner.

Using four different communication channels, they could reach passengers depending on what contact details were available in the PNR, maximising the reach and effectiveness of communication and reducing call centre impact.

Clever workflow management automatically booked a third of contacted passengers onto alternative flights – saving time and money for the airline, and reducing stress for stranded passengers and staff alike.

Top tips to manage unplanned (IROPS) disruption


1. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Passengers expect to be kept in the loop at all times regardless of whether you have all their contact details or not. Prioritise your communication channels in order of disruption severity and use clever technology that can find data, send notifications and use alternative communication channels when certain contact details are missing.

2.  Have the capacity to scale communication at the push of a button

The recent storms across US and East Asia affected over 216,000 passengers – with such high levels of disruption, you need a system that has the capacity to deliver a high-volume of notifications quickly and easily, each with a personalised touch.

3. Communicate your automated re-booking processes

When your passengers are disrupted, they expect you to communicate your solution to the problem with them at the click of a button – no queueing, waiting on the phone for four hours and most importantly, no feeling of being left ‘out of control’.

Using the example in the case study above, a third of all notifications sent out gave passengers details of alternative flights that they had automatically been booked on. Not only does this help reduce call centre throttling, passengers and staff feel in control of the situation knowing that alternative plans are already working their way through the reservation system.

Come and say hello in Singapore


15below will be at the Aviation Festival Asia, in Singapore 23-24th February.  If you’d like to arrange a meeting with us to discuss your passenger notifications needs, or to find out how we can help you to manage disruption more effectively, please email us at hello@15below.com

  • Disruption Communications Workshop – to sign up for our exclusive workshop at the event, or to find out more, please click here.  Limited spaces available.