Southwest Airlines uses AWS to optimize operations, streamline infrastructure costs, and advance delivery of digital customer experiences
Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) announced on March 8 that Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) has selected AWS as its preferred cloud provider as the airline advances its digital transformation initiative. This large-scale modernization with AWS is part of the airline’s long-term plan to enhance the passenger journey, optimize operations, and efficiently invest in information technology (IT) infrastructure.
“As our preferred cloud provider, AWS will offer solutions that are critical in our drive to modernize our operation, equip our employees with the tools they need to serve our customers, and improve our reliability,” said Lauren Woods, senior vice president and chief information officer of Southwest Airlines Co. “With the help of AWS’s leading cloud technology and expertise, we will launch improved digital solutions, responsive customer support, and streamlined operations as we deliver on our digital transformation initiatives.”
Deepening Value for Customers
Southwest uses their website and app to directly reach passengers, resulting in more than 83% of revenue coming from these channels. Using AWS, the airline will harness the automatic scaling capabilities of cloud technology to more efficiently process real-time fare searches on its website and mobile app. This helps customers easily and securely find and book fares quickly, even during periods of peak traffic.
The airline aims to provide next-generation customer service and employee tools in a test-and-learn capacity through their Innovation Lab powered by AWS. Southwest recently built a secure system that gathers and stores pricing and flight shopping data using AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), which offers cost-effective storage classes. Utilizing AWS’s leading availability and reliability, the new system was able to handle the scale and processing needed to offer competitive fare recommendations to customers across partner and Southwest digital properties.
In the future, Southwest also plans to leverage AWS technologies, such as analytics and machine learning, to improve the speed to market of new digital innovations to best support customers from shopping for fares to arrival at their destination.
Optimizing Flight Operations
Southwest plans to utilize the full power of AWS as a development platform to deliver automated, scalable, and secure solutions. The airline is implementing a modernized data architecture using Amazon Redshift, a cloud data warehouse, to deliver analytics capabilities for analysts, data scientists, and business users to gain real-time and predictive insights across its entire operations. To better harness this data, Southwest developers are creating a self-service machine learning platform using Amazon SageMaker to enable data scientists to build, train, and deploy machine learning models for any use case with fully managed infrastructure, tools, and workflows. The internal platform will provide additional insights to expedite the development of new tools and products for employees and customers. In addition, the airline will use AWS storage, container, and serverless compute services to optimize operational applications that support gate assignments, ground operations, flight operations, and aircraft maintenance. All of this will mean a more seamless and enjoyable travel experience for Southwest’s customers.
“Southwest Airlines is one of the world’s largest low-cost carriers, operating 4,000 flights daily during peak travel season,” said Matt Garman, senior vice president of Sales, Marketing, and Global Services at AWS. “AWS’s proven experience in the travel industry, coupled with our vast portfolio of cloud technologies, empowers Southwest to increase operational resiliency, drive cost efficiency, and deliver exceptional experiences for its employees and customers. Our shared culture of customer obsession will help Southwest innovate new travel solutions that will enhance customer touchpoints, flight operations, and airplane and crew scheduling, to keep air travel affordable and enjoyable for passengers.”