Airline harnesses ‘next generation of forecasting’ to cut down on weather delays and cancellations

How frustrating are airline weather delays and cancellations? Now multiply that frustration by 40 million passengers per year. JetBlue hopes to soothe those tempers and eliminate travel headaches by harnessing weather forecasting. The company recently announced Tomorrow.io would provide weather forecasts for every flight.

Airport Delays
Weather delays at a major U.S. airport.

"At our time of investment in Tomorrow.io, it was clear that the innovative vision they had was going to be the next-generation of forecasting in the aviation industry, and this relationship is a testament to JetBlue Ventures’ original mission to bring innovative technologies to our parent company," said Amy Burr, President at JetBlue Ventures in a news release.

JetBlue already saw the benefits of the pinpoint weather forecasts to the tune of $50,000 per month per hub. Now they have expanded the technology to over 1,000 flights a day to over 100 airports globally.

The tool shows real-time and forecasted impacts.
The tool shows real-time and forecasted impacts.

The partnership started in Boston, known for its weather delays. The Customer Experience team hired the company to make better decisions faster and establish more efficient operations practices, like predictive deicing programs, at Boston Logan International Airport. Over 22% of flights into and out of Logan are delayed.

JetBlue realized the savings in time and costs quickly and, in six months, rolled the Tomorrow.io forecasts out to 9 more airports. Delays cost JetBlue $75 per minute and reduce customer loyalty.

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Near blizzard conditions force jets to wait at gates.
Near blizzard conditions force jets to wait at gates.

"This tool was designed with an understanding of the decision-making pressure airport leaders face every day," JetBlue’s S.V.P. of Customer Experience said for a case study.

The study pointed to one particular February morning when most weather forecasts called for snow until 11 a.m. Tomorrow.io meteorologists said the snow would end by 8 a.m. While other airlines slowed takeoffs and landings due to visibility and deicing, JetBlue ran their regular schedule without delays.

"JetBlue was able to access Tomorrow.io data to make their own decisions about how to operate their ground crews, and as a result, save 6 figures in one morning," said Dan Slagen, Tomorrow.io Chief Marketing Officer.

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Weather delays incense customers and are detrimental to loyalty.
Weather delays incense customers and are detrimental to loyalty.

The tool also pairs historical weather data with Artificial Intelligence to predict future weather impacts.

"JetBlue strives first and foremost to be the innovation leader when it comes to safety and efficiency," said Steve Olson, Vice President of JetBlue’s System Operations Center. "With Tomorrow.io, we have found the right partner for us for both day-to-day operations, as well as sustainability goals related to climate resiliency and our overall ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy."

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The tool shows aviation hazzards.
The tool shows aviation hazzards.

Uber is another company that uses Tomorrow.io forecasts. Programs assess weather forecasts and show, hour by hour, how each vehicle would need to respond. Re-routing, updating ETAs and advising drivers to leave early and reduce speeds factor into the ride-share company’s mapping.

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Tomorrow.io created a predictive weather impact tool for Uber.
Tomorrow.io created a predictive weather impact tool for Uber.

Tomorrow.io is planning to launch its own constellation of weather satellites with radar and microwave sounders. The combo will allow the company to refresh images hourly.