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It’s About Time Automating The Airport Shift- And Vacation-bidding Process By Jennifer Jennings and Derek Sutton I Ascend Contributors

Photos: Shutterstock

A new shift- and vacation-bidding module in the Sabre® AirCentre™ Airport suite will provide airlines and ground handlers with sophisticated, real-time bidding automation to streamline bidding processes for employees at all levels.


or decades, airport workers ranging from cabin cleaners and check-in agents to towing crews have endured countless shift or vacation bids at least once a year. The bid normally brings both a sense of anticipation and dread. It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to change schedules or work areas, but it also means that employees might have to come in on their day off to submit their bids. For bid administrators, a new bid period means months of preparation and manual work to review stacks of paper piled high on their desks. In an era of 24/7 Internet access and advanced technology, employees must question why they need to make that trip to a dark, windowless room on the ramp to sign a piece of paper confirming their new work schedule or vacation days.

shift- and vacation-bidding module, while employee information and criteria key to the bidding process are continually updated. After the shift- and vacation-bidding process has concluded, rosters are pushed back to Staff Admin, complete with employee names attached to rosters and vacation days added as anomalies. At this point, there’s a complete, assigned roster, ready for use in the live operation. With the introduction of an automated shift- and vacation-bidding process at an airline, airport or ground handing organization, several core benefits impacting many aspects of the business are possible to achieve, including: Employee satisfaction, Administrative time savings, Improved quality and visibility, The right information at the right time.

Time Is Of The Essence

Employee Satisfaction

Demand for a vacation- and shift-bidding solution is extremely high. Most airlines, airports and ground handlers are actively evaluating options for increased bidding automation. The ongoing need to optimize a highly utilized workforce, with many variations in shifts and work patterns, requires careful control of staffing plans to ensure operational goals are met. For these reasons — and many more — Sabre Airline Solutions® developed a new automated shift- and vacation-bidding solution as part of the Sabre AirCentre Airport suite. The solution will make the manual bidding process a thing of the past and provide airlines, airports and ground handlers increased value through: Reduced costs and inefficiencies in the bidding process, Reduced exposure to union or regulatory fines due to errors or rule violations, Improved employee satisfaction and morale. The launch of the new module, due later this year, will transform the shift and vacationbidding process. Through the new Web-based application, employees can browse published rosters and submit their shift or vacation bids during the designated bid window via an Internet connection in the office, at home or even on their mobile device. Airlines, airports or ground handler system administrators can tailor the shift- and vacation-bidding application to fit their operational conditions, union contracts and governmental regulations. The shift- and vacation-bidding module can be used as a standalone solution; however, for existing Sabre AirCentre Airport customers, the module will be integrated with the Sabre® AirCentre™ Staff Admin application. Published rosters can be extracted from Staff Admin to active bids in the

For airport agents, it can be a real hassle to go through a manual, in-person shift- or vacation-bidding process. They must pick up their bid packets and find their specific window for bidding. Then, they may have to drive to the airport to place their bid, even if their window for bidding is on their day off. The new shift- and vacation-bidding module removes this hassle. Employees will have the freedom to manage their bid electronically with access to the system from any location — without stacks of paper or extra trips to a specific physical location at a set time to process a bid.

Administrative Time Savings

For a large hub operation, development of rosters and the subsequent bidding process can demand an incredible amount of time and labor for station administrative personnel. This can be extremely challenging, labor intensive and costly. With the new Sabre AirCentre Airport shift- and vacation-bidding module, administrators will have a reduced workload, in both bid preparation and bid management. Many bid rules can be configured in a one-time setup, reducing repetitive pre-work and vulnerability to data entry errors. With the new bidding automation, bid administrators no longer have to maintain a bid room and manually award lines as employees select their preferences. Instead of a constant, manual effort to conduct a bid, with the new shift- and vacation-bidding module, administrators can merely oversee the process and let the system handle the tedious and repetitive tasks.

Improved Quality And Visibility

Bid administrators can easily and efficiently construct shifts and publish them for preview, open and close the bidding process,

and award shifts. Because the vacation- and shift-bidding functionality is fully integrated, creating rosters from bids takes minutes instead of hours or even days. The quality of a schedule is one of an employee’s most important benefits. This solution can ensure the shift- and vacation assignments are as fair as possible, providing bid administrators with peace of mind. Inconsistent shift and vacation-bidding policies can cause confusion and frustration among employees, breed unfairness and impact morale. The new Sabre AirCentre Airport shift- and vacation-bidding module allows employees to express their preferences. If permitted by their company’s bid practices, employees will have the ability to see their selections in terms of the number of positions available, what other employees are selecting, and the status and selection of more-senior employees. Bid administrators will no longer need to worry about any potentially unfair scheduling practices. While employees will have a choice, the solution will assign shifts that are in line with its bid rules. This provides consistency, transparency and fairness into shift and vacation assignments.

Right Information, Right Time

Union regulations and contracts require discrete labor management rules to be enforced, particularly in shift- and vacationbidding scenarios. Of equal importance is the ongoing requirement to be ready to document every employee transaction and assignment to union authorities. This requires deeper access to transaction histories through audit logs. In case of disputes, bid administrators will be able to access all bids entered by employees, along with the awarded bids. Consider this a form of insurance. The manual bidding processes of the last several decades at airlines, airports and ground handler companies are in use well beyond their expected lifecycle. The new shift- and vacation-bidding solution will ease the bidding process for airport agents and transform the significant administrative time invested in shift and vacation bids. a

Sabre AirCentre Airport

Jennifer Jennings and Derek Sutton are solution managers for Sabre Airline Solutions. They can be contacted at jennifer.jennings@sabre. com and

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