Case 4: Southwest Airlines Reservation Center Background & Problem Statement Southwest Airlines will be offering a special sale following their 30th Anniversary Sale. The "Click "ÃÂn Save" sale will start on March 2, 2001 through March 15, 2001. This sale is valid for travel from March 9, 2001 to August 4, 2001 and reduces one-way fares down to $39 to $119 each.
Due to this "Click "ÃÂn Save" sale, Southwest Airlines expects a sudden demand surge on their flight reservation. As of now, Southwest Airlines has nine reservation centers throughout the country. The Southwest reservation center in Chicago will be examined to determine if it has enough capacity to handle this demand surge. This reservation center operates from 8:00 a.m. until midnight, with two shifts of one staff member each to handle flights 880, 881, and 882, the high demand flights to Florida during spring break season.
When a customer calls the Chicago reservation center, they go "on hold" in the order they called until an agent is available to take their call.
During last year's "Click "ÃÂn Save" sale, this reservation center had a hard time handling the high volume of reservations. Currently, staff members are so busy throughout the whole week that they are unable to take their breaks during their shifts.
To uphold their high level of customer service, Southwest Airlines does not want a customer to be "on hold" for more than five minutes. However, Southwest wants to maintain a high level of operator utilization due to recent budget reductions. Under the current situation of two shifts with one staff member, customers are on hold for an average of two hours during both shifts. The operator utilization is over 99% making it virtually impossible for the staff members to get in their required 15-minute breaks.