"By securing mobile devices with MobileIron, we can more easily achieve security compliance, accelerate on-board product sales, and even reduce weight on the aircraft by condensing our 600-page flight attendant manual onto a single tablet."Andrew Brandess, Special Project Manager at Frontier Airlines
The story of how one airline transformed its approach to corporate mobility, adopting new technologies and processes and delivering a wildly successful new program with demonstrable return on investment.
Frontier Airlines is an ultra-low cost carrier headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The airline offers more than 275 daily flights to 55 cities across the United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
To ensure passengers have a comfortable experience while on board, Frontier offers a variety of in-flight meal and beverage options. To expedite the order and purchase process, each flight attendant has a company-owned, personally enabled (COPE) Samsung tablet they use to complete transactions. The tablets can also be used as personal devices so flight attendants can take care of personal business while away from home. Frontier currently manages 1,750 mobile devices and expects to grow the mobile fleet to more than 2,500 in the near future.
Before the current program was fully deployed, Frontier found itself running into a number of problems. The airline’s flight attendants weren’t using their tablets competently, and the software installed on the tablets kept falling out of date. This would often happen when staffwere on vacation or offline for extended periods of time. This out-of-date information was the cause of a major headache for Frontier’s IT staff, especially when running reports or making enhancements to credit card security.
Furthermore, the tablets couldn't accommodate 3G or 4G cellular technology. As a result, whenever a transaction took place on board, the device then needed to be connected with an ethernet cable after the flight to move the data into the company's financial system and to the bank for processing. This meant that Frontier typically wasn't able to collect the revenue until two or three days after the transaction initially occurred, posing the risk of rejected payments.
"Our previous system did not allow us to recognize revenue in a timely manner and in some cases, there were lost transactions and revenues,” said Andrew Brandess, Special Project Manager at Frontier Airlines. “ We knew we needed a new tablet that would be centrally managed, used properly by staff and give us more onboard sales.”
Frustrated with these issues, Andrew and the team knew they’d have to try something fresh. The decision was made to deploy a fleet of new Samsung tablets, using Verizon Wireless to provide 4G access to the devices. This empowered the onboard sales to be uploaded as soon as aircrafts were back on the ground and a 4G connection was established, significantly reducing the time needed to recognize revenue compared to Frontier’s previous system.
However, introducing 4G to the devices created a new set of challenges for the business. The consideration was threefold: how could it ensure the tablets were secure from threats, that staff did not make improper use of the devices and also keep track of potentially spiraling data costs?
Wandera and MobileIron were selected as the ideal technologies to address these new challenges. The solutions are designed to work in tandem, offering the airline a way to securely manage both the data being used and the devices themselves.
“With the Wandera solution we were able to whitelist work-related applications which reduced the 4G usage substantially and eliminated overages” says Brandess. “We have policies that restrict access over a 4G connection but we’ve opened up Wi-Fi access entirely so staff can do anything they want on Wi-Fi in their own time. This encourages them to treat the devices as their own and take care of them, which helps extend the life of every device in the long run”
Frontier selected MobileIron’s enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform to keep its fleet of mobile devices secure.
Because flight attendants travel heavily, process a multitude of credit card transactions, and use their devices on a variety of networks, Frontier looked to MobileIron to ensure the devices are easy to secure and update with the latest software versions. They also needed to be able to wipe devices in case they are ever lost or stolen. With MobileIron, Frontier can automatically push software and security updates to every device without requiring user interaction. The airline also uses MobileIron Help@Work, which helps flight attendants quickly contact a help desk agent to troubleshoot and resolve problems with their devices.
“Standardization is the key benefit of MobileIron for us,” said Brandess. “When we have this many devices and a point-of-sale software that gets updated a couple of times a week, we want to be able to push it uniformly and make sure everybody’s on the same version. This is the beauty of MobileIron — as soon as the staff are logged onto their devices, the devices are updated so we’re able to get correct information immediately from them.”
235GB Monthly data savings
25% Overnight revenue increase
78% Bill cost reduction
Despite budgeting for roughly 300GB of data per month, Frontier never exceeded 65GB once Wandera and MobileIron were in place. So essentially the business is now using a fifth of what was allocated, simply because the new solutions were “working perfectly”, by limiting staff to point-of-sale software and blocking all third party apps and other websites from use.
“During the first month we had no idea how much data we were going to use so we’d watch the Wandera dashboard carefully each day and it showed data usage was staying consistently low. It was a very good feeling when we hit the month end and just realized we had way too much data. That’s a good problem to have,” said Brandess. “Moving forward, I think we’ll sign up for the bare minimum of 10MB per month per tablet, which, believe it or not, is probably enough given the data we’re sending is just credit card transactions. There really is no need for additional data, it’s been a very successful project.”
When Frontier activated the integrated MobileIron and Wandera solution, the company’s onboard sales increased by roughly 25% overnight, thanks to a mix of instant payment processing, fewer declined credit cards, more inventive and sophisticated selling techniques and the introduction of an innovative world-first gratuities program that was widely embraced by staff.
Amazingly, since the rollout of Wandera and MobileIron, Frontier’s catering department has entered a state of profit for the first time: an extremely uncommon success in the airline industry.
“Wandera has paid for itself immediately and many times over. Plus, by securing mobile devices with MobileIron, we can more easily achieve security compliance, accelerate on-board product sales, and even reduce weight on the aircraft by condensing our 600-page flight attendant manual onto a single tablet. Overall, it’s been a very cost-effective solution for us,” says Brandess.