United Airlines’ ConnectionSaver tool, released in June 2019, has already proven its value to the company and its customers in under three months’ time. To date, the product has helped United to save the connections of about 40,000 passengers, with it having been mere weeks since the app was expanded to serve all of United’s domestic hubs.
Reporting on last week’s Regional Airlines Association (RAA) annual convention in Nashville, The Points Guy revealed that United’s vice-president of domestic network planning, Ankit Gupta declared that ConnectionSaver has seen “tremendous” positive feedback from passengers.
The tool works preemptively by scanning flight databases for passengers whose itineraries will require them to make tight connections and then determining whether the connecting flight could be held briefly without delaying its destination arrival time. With flight schedules already being padded a bit on routes departing from or arriving at busy airports, it’s a scenario that’s often possible.
In such cases, ConnectionSaver alerts agents and crew members at the connecting gate that last-minute passengers are on their way, and that they should attempt to hold the flight for a reasonable interval to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to board. The app also sends personalized text messages to United passengers with concise information on their connections, the location of their next gate, anticipated walk times and nearby facilities.
According to Gupta, the average departure delay was shown to be about four minutes—a small price to pay if it means enabling several passengers to board who would otherwise miss their connections. Especially considering that, when clients fail to connect, the airline must rebook them on other already crowded flights, and must sometimes fund their meals and accommodations during overnight delays.
“If you can wait three minutes and save ten passengers’ [connections], you want to wait three minutes on the gate,” said Gupta on Friday, September 6. “We saw such a great success that we have rolled it out across the board.”
Gupta also announced that United Airlines is planning to implement more technologically advanced tools akin to ConnectionSaver in the coming years.