JETBLUE AND WESTJET: A TALE OF TWO INFORMATION SYSTEM PROJECTS
• How important is the reservation system at airlines such as WestJet and JetBlue. How does it impact operational activities and decision making?
Airlines such as WestJet and JetBlue promote low-cost and high-efficiency carriers by giving extremely competitive fares and outstanding customer service. Reservation system for these airlines are so important that when these companies need to make sweeping IT upgrades, their relationships with customers and their brands can be tarnished if things go awry. This can be seen when in 2009, both airlines upgraded their airline reservation systems, SabreSonic CSS was launch, customers struggled to place reservations, and the WestJet Web Site crashed repeatedly. WestJet’s call centers were also overwhelmed, and customers experienced slowdowns at airports. This delay provoked a deluge of customer dissatisfaction. In addition to the increase in customer complaint calls, customers also took to the Internet to express their displeasure. Angry flyers expressed outrage on Facebook and flooded WestJet’s site, causing the repeated crashes.
These problems impact both of the airlines operational activities and decision making to change their initial carrier which had started out as a system designed for smaller start-up airlines to a better carrier. Other than that, both airlines needed more processing power to deal with a far greater volume of customers. They also needed features like the ability to link prices and seat inventories to other airlines with whom they cooperated. Both JetBlue and WestJet contracted with Sabre Holdings to upgrade their airline reservation systems. The differences between WestJet and JetBlue’s implementation of Sabre’s SabreSonic CSS reservation system illustrate the dangers inherent in any large-scale IT overhaul. It also serves as yet another reminder of how successfully planning for and implementing new...