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Southwest Airlines It System - Contemporary Information Systems

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Contemporary Information Systems

Southwest Airlines has been profitable year after year for almost four decades because of low operating costs and its emphasis on serving customers through casual services and low airfares. But as Southwest began to grow and its operations became more complex, it had to adapt its current strategies by investing in information technologies and systems in order to handle new aircraft purchases and growth in passenger traffic.

Because of common high reservation costs associated with air travel in the 19080's, Soutwest was the first airline to introduce paperless tickets, side stepping printing and processing paper tickets. Southwest Airlines launched its website which allows customers to purchase tickets online. This website alone is responsible for $3 Billion in bookings annually., launched in 2002, is the business travel website. In addition to the websites, self-service kiosks enable to customers to check into their flights faster and to deal with booking and itinerary changes quickly. The Gate Reader software it installed in 2003 enabled agents to quickly access information on travelers such as customer status and specific needs.

One of main cost advantages Soutwest has over other airlines is that customers can only use to book flights online. Unlike other airlines, it does not have to integrate its online system with a global distribution system such as Sabre Travel Network. Other airlines must make sure the fares quoted on their own website are continuously synchronized with global distribution systems.

The airport application suite now available at concourses at airports, which includes modules for check-in, ticketing, baggage, and security, shorten processing time and eliminate customer-agent communication needs.

In 2007, agents were introduced to graphical applications, replacing outdated green screen technology. With just a few clicks, an agent can check in a passenger, open and change reservations, issue boarding passes, and access a passenger's personal information and past data efficiently and quickly. The graphical applications utilize IBM's Websphere software and Java's Enterprise edition platform as its server.

Southwest expanded its proprietary customer database in order to predict trends in air travel, improve its marketing strategy, and to inform employees of passenger information. This database keeps tract of customer transactions using vouchers, credit cards and gift cards to purchase E-tickets.

Southwest's use of information technology has also reduced maintenance times for its airplanes from about 10% to 15%. Automated production-control systems greatly decrease the need for human sensory and mental requirements. In addition, inspectors use Panasonic tablets to upload their information wirelessly into a centralized library, which



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