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Old Jan 26, 10, 9:00 am   #1
 
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YX re-announces MKE-STL service

Midwest Airlines today re-announced plans to start MKE-STL service. As you may recall, Midwest first announced plans to restore this route months ago (although that press release has vanished from the website).

The start date has been pushed back one month with service now starting April 1, 2010. I still think those flight times could be improved. Adding another flight would certainly make the schedule more attractive, especially since some of these flights are clearly designed specifically to capture connecting traffic.

Here's the original FlyerTalk thread:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/midwe...sumes-stl.html

Today's press release:

http://www.midwestairlines.com/About...op_012610.aspx

No word on any other additions coming. However, yesterday I received several schedule changes (time changes only) so this may be a sign that more is on the way.
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Last edited by BlueHorseShoe2000; Jan 26, 10 at 9:07 am..
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Old Jan 26, 10, 9:48 am   #2
 
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Originally Posted by BlueHorseShoe2000 View Post
No word on any other additions coming. However, yesterday I received several schedule changes (time changes only) so this may be a sign that more is on the way.
I received schedule changes yesterday too. They were only time changes.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 10:48 am   #3
 
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I think they messed up their press release...taking the original one and just changing the effective date to April 1.

The press release flight times

Milwaukee to St. Louis
08:50 am - 10:10 am
04:05 pm - 05:25 pm
10:10 pm - 11:30 pm

St. Louis to Milwaukee
05:30 am - 06:40 am
10:45 am - 11:55 am
05:50 pm - 07:00 pm

The actual flight times for sale for the past week or so:

Milwaukee to St. Louis
08:55 am - 10:20 am
04:05 pm - 05:25 pm
10:10 pm - 11:35 pm

St. Louis to Milwaukee
07:10 am - 08:25 am
11:10 am - 12:25 pm
05:50 pm - 07:05 pm


The key difference is that the early-morning STL departure is much more attractive for locals. The competition for an early-morning STL departure is a 6:00am AirTran CRJ. The new flight time will still have decent connections to LGA/BOS/PHL, and more resonable connections to places like MSP, GRB, FNT, GRR, etc.

Not sure if it is aircraft or what leading to the date change, but I did notice perhaps 2 weeks ago that MKE-STL wasn't available for sale on 3/1 but started for sale about 3/4 or so. Perhaps the aircraft they are counting on to start this service has a creeping availability delay, and this is safer then just pushing the start date out a week or two at a time.

For what it's worth, there's a new job posting listed in the past few days for part-time CSR at Central Wisconsin (CWA), so that is still apparently in the works. I believe the original job posting we saw for CWA late last year was for a manager position there.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 11:17 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by knope2001 View Post
Not sure if it is aircraft or what leading to the date change, but I did notice perhaps 2 weeks ago that MKE-STL wasn't available for sale on 3/1 but started for sale about 3/4 or so. Perhaps the aircraft they are counting on to start this service has a creeping availability delay, and this is safer then just pushing the start date out a week or two at a time.
Hopefully they didn't have to reaccomodate a ton of customers with this delay.

Republic's Scheduling Department could definately use some improvement. Some of the changes to my itineraries recently have been frustrating.

If their goal is to win back customers and make things more difficult for the competition, they can start by having reliable schedules. Sometimes Midwest is its own worst enemy. I'm sure the call center was swamped yet again yesterday with less than happy customers.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 11:28 am   #5
 
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Originally Posted by BlueHorseShoe2000 View Post
Hopefully they didn't have to reaccomodate a ton of customers with this delay.

Republic's Scheduling Department could definately use some improvement. Some of the changes to my itineraries recently have been frustrating.

If their goal is to win back customers and make things more difficult for the competition, they can start by having reliable schedules. Sometimes Midwest is its own worst enemy. I'm sure the call center was swamped yet again yesterday with less than happy customers.

What do you think you get for $10 an hour and high employee turn over.

More of the same

Count on it!
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Old Jan 26, 10, 12:46 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by n735 View Post
What do you think you get for $10 an hour and high employee turn over.

More of the same

Count on it!
Please stop making blanketed statements that don't hold much validity. The scheduling department is actually bigger now and it consists of both the people that worked for Midwest and Frontier Airlines. Schedule changes are the result of harmonizing a schedule between two brands and normal schedule changes. Give it time to shake out. There are always going to be changes.

Employee turnover is on a consistent level as you would see with any organization running an airline. Also, there is alot of hiring going on in Milwaukee right now. You wouldn't believe how many new people that I've seen running through the building for new call center, mechanic and ticketing/gate agent jobs. I'm pretty sure they're happy to have the chance to get a job, not to mention interview for one, in the current economy.

Scheduling people are also paid professionals, not hourly workers, and they do get paid much more than $10 an hour.

Please stop insulting the people that work for the Republic family. If you want to improve things, apply for a job here.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 12:57 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n735 View Post
What do you think you get for $10 an hour and high employee turn over.

More of the same

Count on it!
Probably has nothing to do with it. Aircraft utilization, introduction of different aircraft types coming from Denver etc. probably plays into it more than the amount a person is paid.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 3:09 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n735 View Post
What do you think you get for $10 an hour and high employee turn over.

More of the same

Count on it!
I guarantee you that a $10 an hour employee is not making any decisions that impact the flight schedule of Midwest/Frontier...Why make a comment like this?

I am with Blue on this one though...It will be nice when the schedule changes on existing flights (excluding the new city introductions) get reduced.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 3:39 pm   #9
 
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I am with Blue on this one though...It will be nice when the schedule changes on existing flights (excluding the new city introductions) get reduced.
+1 on that too...however it could be worse. Check out the self-inflicted pain JetBlue is planning for this weekend. From noon on Friday until "Saturday afternoon":

--No new bookings or changes at the website nor at the 800 number
--Changes or new bookings can only be made at the airport ticket counter
--No online check-in
--No flight information available
--No FF information available

http://jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx (click on the Reservation System Transition for the details)

And to top it off they are doing this during winter, and already they have a "winter weather advisory" for Saturday on the eastern seaboard. They're encouraging people to move their Saturday travel up to Thursday or Friday...but changes must be made before 12:00pm Friday, of course, because the system goes down.

Hopefully there's nothing anywhere near this in store for when Midwest and Frontier move to a consolidated res platform.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 4:36 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by BlueHorseShoe2000 View Post
If their goal is to win back customers and make things more difficult for the competition, they can start by having reliable schedules. Sometimes Midwest is its own worst enemy. I'm sure the call center was swamped yet again yesterday with less than happy customers.
Problems with the call center date back to the "old Midwest", ever since the cutbacks of 2008.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 4:55 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by RSVP View Post
Problems with the call center date back to the "old Midwest", ever since the cutbacks of 2008.
Those long waits won't get any better for the customer when Midwest is constantly tweaking the schedules.

Some of the changes being made are more than simply adjusting departure times by a few minutes here and there.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 5:07 pm   #12
 
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The start date makes sense...MKE-STL on AA* (operated by CHQ) ends on April 5.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 5:32 pm   #13
 
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Problems with the call center date back to the "old Midwest", ever since the cutbacks of 2008.
I'd agree with this. The downslope started in 2008, just wasn't the same quality.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 7:48 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by hazelrah View Post
I'd agree with this. The downslope started in 2008, just wasn't the same quality.
One of my closest friends at work handles incoming calls when the call center hold times exceed 20 minutes or so. It is not her primary job to answer these calls, but her entire department of eight or so employees have been sucking it up for a year to help ease the burden call center cutbacks have caused.

During a previous conversation with her I mentioned something like, "Why can't we outsource or hire temps to come in and help with planned and unplanned events which we know will lead to a sustained, large volume of incoming calls?" The answer is simple, "The RES system is so complicated due to cryptic commands being entered into mainframe emulators (which happen to have barely enough CPU to support Windows XP), that by the time you could get temps or outsourced help trained to use the system the issue which caused there necessity will have been handled by the existing call center agents (and the people I mentioned above) working 10-12hrs per day for n number of days."

So, what are the alternatives? Here's a few off the top of my head:

a) Enhance the Web site to perform most, if not all, of the possible modifications a call center agent can do to a reservation manually.

b) Implement an automated feature which allows a person to virtually put their place in line, and have Midwest call you back when its your turn versus sitting on hold for 45-120 minutes

c) Over-staff the department, and make everyone part time. Then, in times of crisis you offer full-time hours. This avoids having to routinely pay overtime and full-time benefits

d) any combination of a, b, and c

My vote is for a combination of a and b.
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Old Jan 26, 10, 8:51 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by bluethunder View Post
So, what are the alternatives? Here's a few off the top of my head:

a) Enhance the Web site to perform most, if not all, of the possible modifications a call center agent can do to a reservation manually.

b) Implement an automated feature which allows a person to virtually put their place in line, and have Midwest call you back when its your turn versus sitting on hold for 45-120 minutes

c) Over-staff the department, and make everyone part time. Then, in times of crisis you offer full-time hours. This avoids having to routinely pay overtime and full-time benefits

d) any combination of a, b, and c
A and B are both good options.

Another idea worth consideration is to simply replicate what jetBlue does. David Neeleman came up with the idea of training a team of agents that could work at home using computers to access the reservations system. By doing something like this, Republic would have a dedicated group of trained individuals that could be utilized to handle many of the incoming calls.

Not only would this save costs from having dedicated space to house these workers, but would also allow enough flexability to match staffing levels with call volumes. Keep a list of employees willing to work overtime and they can take calls when demand is high (weather related cancellations/delays, schedule changes, etc.). Having these types of employees would also allow Republic to be more proactive when disruptions are possible.

This would go along ways to helping resolve current problems with the call center while keeping costs in check.

Just an idea....
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