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In-Flight Social Distancing for Relief and a Bumpy Road to Recovery

Hello from Panama, where I am riding out what the IMF has coined, ‘The Great Lockdown’! I’m happy to say that my new location hasn’t kept me away from the day-to-day. In fact, keeping up with the needs of our customers, although high-pressured, is helping me keep centered in these crazy times.

With that in mind, I wanted to add some color to our recent announcement about how airline customers are using the flexibility of the Farelogix FLX Merchandise engine to support in-flight social distancing. Specifically, how the solution adjusts seat maps, so individual travelers are seated apart when onboard, while at the same time, enabling flexibility for families and couples traveling together. It’s very satisfying to help our customers in their time of need and to be developing innovative solutions that will benefit more in the future.

To give some context, many airlines need to keep seats vacant between travelers in the era of COVID-19. To accomplish this, some have turned to the ‘blunt-force’ method of hard-coding seat blocks, usually this means simply keeping a middle seat free. But this approach fails to meet different customer requirements and changing market dynamics. Hard coding vacant seats applies a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a situation that’s characterized by a need for flexibility as the situation unfolds. For example, hard coding fails to accommodate:

  • Couples
  • Family groups
  • Changing mix of single, couple, family seat configurations on each flight (based on load factor or forecast values)
  • Guidelines that vary as the COVID-19 crisis plays out and different government policies evolve
  • Ability to offer travelers more than one free seat (what I call ‘super social distancing’)
  • Narrow and wide body aircraft with differing seat configurations
  • Ability to dynamically adjust seat maps based on remaining seat availability

FLX Merchandise can overcome these challenges with rules and algorithms that:

  • Apply distancing logic to “travel unit types” (singles, couples, families, etc.)
  • Dynamically adapt seat allocation based on load factor and available inventory
  • On the seat map, display only relevant seating options based on the makeup of the travelling party
  • Block off more than one seat in wider body aircraft, to offer ‘super social distancing’
  • Account for configuration differences between narrow body vs. wide body planes, where simply blocking a middle seat is insufficient

I have created the images below to give you a flavor of what I mean.

Rules for social distancing logic in FLX Merchandise

Rules for social distancing logic in FLX Merchandise

Example seat map_social distancing

Example seat map that accommodates different ‘traveler unit types’ in seating zones

I know that I speak for the whole Farelogix team when I say that we wish we could come to the rescue of the airline industry right now. We can’t. No one can. But we can play our part by continuing innovate and make technology that gives airlines the flexibility they need in these uncertain times and for the path to recovery that lies ahead. If I can help you with anything to make your road to recovery easier, please connect with me at mzumdieck@farelogix.com.


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