A tale of two airlines case

951 Words Sep 15th, 2013 4 Pages
F . WARREN MCFARLAN
Tale of Two Airlines in The Network Age: Or Why The Spirit of King George III Is Alive and Well!

As Professor Roger McPherson’s wait to go through the security process a second time dragged on into its third hour on this Spring day in 2002, (all passengers had to be rescreened upon the discovery that one of the airport screening machines was unplugged) he was reminded of another delayed business trip and the role that information technology played in the story.

At 5:30pm on February 15, 1995, 200 feet off the ground, Professor Roger McPherson gazed anxiously through the fog as his airplane moved to touch down at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, more than 1 hour and 15 minutes late. He had 30 minutes to catch his
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Flying to the United Kingdom to connect to Frankfurt would be a hassle and unnecessary since the purpose of stopping in the United Kingdom was now totally negated. Glancing up at the departure board, McPherson was surprised to see a 7:55pm boarding departure for a plane to Frankfurt, nine gates away. Pulling into the gate at 8:02pm, he discovered several things:

1. The plane was at the gate, and with commendable dispatch the gate agent relieved him of his London boarding pass and his London-to-Frankfurt ticket and hustled him onto the plane minutes before the door closed.

2. The cabin attendant, giving him his favorite drink, explained that because of favorable tail winds across the Atlantic and the fact that eight passengers (plus now McPherson and one other) had very tight connections, they had decided to hold the plane for 15 minutes to get the extra passengers and still arrive on schedule. The note of pride in the cabin attendant 's voice was evident.

One-and-a-half hours later, appropriately wined and dined, McPherson drifted off to sleep, reflecting on what a remarkable case study had played out in front of him in the previous two hours. Information technology, operations strategy, management control, an empowered (also unempowered) work force, and service management had been interwoven into a tableau. A revised format for his speech in Frankfurt began to emerge.
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