[UPDATED]

Swiipr contacted us to clarify the following: It’s THE airline that sends you the link to the app through a text message! So while people can download our app now, now it is not purposeful – however, watch this space in 2023! The airline has to actually DECIDE to compensate the passenger, send them the text (or give them a physical payment card), and then it works. It’s AIRLINE LED, NOT end customer-led.
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This week it was US-based Southwest Airlines that suffered an operational collapse. But this is by no means the first or last such operational collapse. And airlines must take responsibility and treat their customers fairly if they want to keep them in the changing market. Bad news travels fast! Air travel is fraught with risk, which is why booking systems allow you to insure your trip when you make a reservation. Air travelers must arm themselves against airline operational collapses. It will happen to you sooner or later and will always be at the most inconvenient time.

Fortunately, suppose your airline is one of the growing new breed that understands that good customer experience is also good business. In that case, there is something they can do that will solve your problems immediately. Money straight to your mobile wallet or a payment card that you can use immediately. Meet UK-based Swiipr.

They explain: “Swiipr is a revolutionary fintech transforming travel disruption into a positive customer experience which enhances loyalty and brand value. We enable airlines to offer a complete digital journey to their customers and staff with smooth and effortless functionality and instant, hassle-free mobile and card payments; on-the-go, globally. The mobile 1st Swiipr X digital platform is specifically designed for airlines to deliver instant disruption solutions direct to passenger’s phones and wallets. This includes key passenger information, compensation, welfare gestures and payments, hotels and transport solutions, and embedded finance. It also enables operational payments allowing airlines to automate and operate with less overheads, full back-office transparency, and audit controls with ease while complying with regulations and being friendlier to the planet. It is our mission to bring fintech speed and user experience to one of the last bastions of inefficiency – travel disruption. In a post-Covid world, self-service, contactless digital solutions are more critically important, and airlines need to leapfrog legacy systems and put customer satisfaction and digital efficiency at the core of their operations. Swiipr is here to help deliver that.”

Swiipr is focused on helping airlines when they hit operational disruptions. Because EU travel requires legal redress, airlines are better off if the compensation process is automated. No long lines for customers to stand in to get vouchers. No claim form filling that costs more to process – just sorting out the problem immediately. No additional annoyances for customers who are already uptight with disrupted schedules. No hammered employees trying to deal with hundreds of angry customers. You can easily imagine the stress levels on both sides.   In case you need a refresher, take a look at a quick video.

So what to do now? Although Swiipr was developed for airlines to quickly and automatically send compensation to travelers, you can only get that benefit when your airline signs up with Swiipr. Already operational and issuing on behalf of several major airlines and ground handlers, their solution is in nearly 100 airports in Europe and Australia. It is coming to US airports in February with UK carriers. US carriers would do well to catch up with this innovative solution.

Here is how Swiipr works – an idealistic video, but you get the idea. Ideally, no or minimal human interaction to add to your stress.  

The Southwest case currently playing out has already seen 10,000 canceled flights. An average of ~130 passengers per flight means ~1.3m passengers impacted. No airline worldwide has enough support staff to help passengers at this volume.  

US Senators Markey and Blumenthal have already started demanding compensation: “Southwest cannot avoid compensating passengers by claiming these flight cancellations were caused by recent winter storms. As Southwest executives have acknowledged, the mass cancellations yesterday were largely due to the failure of its own internal systems. As such, those cancellations should be categorized as ‘controllable,’ and Southwest should compensate passengers accordingly.”

Southwest could become the first US airline to deploy Swiipr because their need for a solution is greatest. Of course, even if Southwest were to deploy Swiipr today, it’s already too late for currently disrupted passengers. If Southwest had a solution like this, it could have automated customer compensation, minimizing the financial impact of the disruption and reducing harmful brand damage. 

There is little point in pointing fingers at the airline’s IT fumbles and breakdowns. Southwest will spend a lot of money to fix the weaknesses identified. That will help it in the future. What is most important now is that all airlines learn from this. And, of course, passengers, too.

Airlines should be looking into Swiipr (and any other similar solution). If you’re with an airline, contact Swiipr because you know you will need something like this – operational hiccups are inevitable. You, the reader, want your airline to have this because winter isn’t over. And you can bet more air travel disruptions are coming, regardless of the season. Airlines can’t control disruptions but can control their brand image. 

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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