United Airlines has saved 40,000 connections by holding flights
United Airlines recently introduced a new "ConnectionSaver" tool that allows agents to hold flights at the gate if it means saving the connections of several passenger.
Now, less than three months after rolling out ConnectionSaver — and just weeks after expanding it to all of its domestic hubs — the product is receiving "tremendous" positive feedback from passengers, Ankit Gupta, United's vice-president of domestic network planning, said last week at the Regional Airlines Association (RAA) annual convention in Nashville.
“If you can wait three minutes and save 10 passengers’ [connections], you want to wait three minutes on the gate," he said Friday (Sept. 6). "We saw such a great success that we have rolled it out across the board."
To date, United has saved the connections of roughly 40,000 passengers with an average departure delay of only four minutes, said Gupta.
The idea behind ConnectionSaver is that if a flight can leave late but arrive on time — something that is often possible with schedules padded on routes at many of the busiest airports — the flight can wait four minutes at the gate in order to allow connecting travelers to make the flight.
When passengers misconnect, airlines must rebook them on already crowded flights — Delta Air Lines flights were more than 90% full in July and August — and in some cases pay for food and accommodations if the delay is overnight.
Gupta said United plans to roll out more technological innovations like ConnectionSaver that benefit passengers in the coming years.
Featured image by Alberto Riva/TPG.