In an ideal travel world, all fights would be non-stop. But in reality, increased operational costs for airlines has required the adoption of a more fiscally sustainable model of operations, including a reduction in direct flights and condensed operations at some airports. These approaches present a challenge to airlines and passengers alike when it comes to Special Service Requests.
Recently issued government statistics show more than 34,000 disabled flyers have complained about their treatment, and 54% of the incidents have involved wheelchair assistance. That’s nearly equal to 1 complaint per 100,000 passengers about inadequate wheelchair assistance. And, it’s estimated that by 2030 nearly 39% of the U.S. population will be disabled, resulting in about 53 million more disabled people than in 1997, of which around a third of fly at least once every two years. In all, the challenge of a better SSR approach represents one of the biggest opportunities for airlines.
But, can airlines meet and exceed disabled passengers’ needs while also realizing increased operational efficiencies?
The simple answer is yes, through streamlining and centralizing the dispatching of wheelchair services and other SSRs.
Centralized dispatch services automate and consolidate the dispatch and execution of Special Service Requests (SSR) like wheelchair transport orders. With this model, wheelchair requests are received at a centralized location through direct requests from airports or through the airlines reservation systems. Utilizing a cloud based technology platform, dispatchers can look at a passengers entire travel day, including any connections, and dispatch wheelchair services across the entire reservation, even when a different wheelchair service provider performs the push from connection to connection.
A centralized dispatch platform automatically locates the wheelchair technician who is best positioned to fulfill the request. A dispatcher sends the request - including the passengers identity, specific location and pick up time - to a highly specialized Smartphone. Real-time updates go directly to the wheelchair technician in the event of a gate change. Pick-ups and deliveries are recorded on the Smartphone, which transfers all data about the push back to a central cloud-based server where it is stored for up to five years. Data is guaranteed to be accurate in case of a complaint, providing DOT Part 382 claim response in real-time. The streamlined workflow improves accuracy and efficiency, resulting in fewer flight delays. Most importantly, disabled passengers aren’t left wondering when and from whom assistance will arrive.
In total, a central dispatch platform eliminates the need for a dispatcher at each airport. It automatically adjusts for seasonal SSR demands or scheduling changes, and it reduces staffing overhead while improving coverage. The result is considerable cost savings to airlines looking for a better solution.