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Constraint Management at Southwest Airlines

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I think everyone here may has the experience that the plane can not take off on time. The long waiting time make everyone feel anxious. And at this time, this airline company’s customer satisfaction will become lower. Therefore, There are a lot of constraints in the process of operating the airline. How to manage these constraints and generate positive customer experiences are vitally important to the airline company. Southwest is a company that has done this successfully. According to loyal southwest customers, we can identify several advantages of SA: low fares, great customer service, customer has a chance to choose seat. And from an operation perspective, our group are amazed that Southwest only need 25minutes in gate-turnaround. It extremely demands Southwest to have a prefect ground operation strategy and can manage potential bottlenecks effectively .

Q.1.Analyze Southwest’s passenger boarding process using the Theory of Constraints SA want to find an improvement in passenger boarding process.We know that ground operations and boarding process need to take place simultaneously and as quickly as possible since a delay can cause longer turnaround times. . Therefore, The theory of constraints show that Southwest airline has to identify and manage the bottleneck which may occur in passenger boarding process and maximize their profit. In the case, the constraints in passenger boarding process are passenger sequence and the priority rules in passenger sequence. So 7 boarding scenarios were designed and tested by Southwest airlines in order to find a better way to aboard.

Q.2.Which boarding scenario among the different ones proposed would you recommend for implementation? Why? Our group think all of the 7 boarding scenarios has its advantage and disadvantages. For example, the NO.7 educational boarding video, the advantage is it can inform passengers how to board efficiently, however, for disabled passengers it may not work. Therefore, We think Southwest Airline should mix 7 scenarios and take the advantages of them. So the original three (A,B,C) groups can be instead of 6 boarding groups. And keep one boarding group for families with children or disabled person. In addition, this group can be given priority and they can go to board first because this group may have a lot of bottlenecks in boarding process. 6 boarding groups will help to speed up the turnaround time. The educational boarding video can be shown in Southwest Airline’s official website, so customers can view it in advance.

Q 3. How should Southwest evaluate the gate boarding and plane turnaround process? To evaluate the gate boarding and plane turnaround process, Southwest Airlines can make a customer satisfaction survey. They also can measure the plane turnaround time and check if the ground operations have been improved. In addition, Southwest has to make sure all the operations are running efficiently

Q 4. How would southwest know that the bottleneck has indeed been eliminated after the change in boarding process? To know whether or not the bottleneck has indeed been eliminated after the change in boarding process, Southwest should identify if the changes in boarding process have reduced the plane turnaround time, been fit for its capacity, improved customer satisfaction in a long run. If the changes effectively done these in a long run, Southwest can know the bottleneck has been eliminated. Conversely, the bottleneck has not been eliminated and Southwest has to make further changes.

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