Budget airlines are committed to keeping the cost of flights low for their passengers, and therefore need super-efficient operations to keep their overheads down.

This is why Colorado-based Frontier Airlines decided to shake up the way it processes onboard sales to deliver a sleek, cost-efficient mobility program. Its thinking was to not only increase the revenue it generates during flights, but also to find a way to reduce the costs associated with it too.

The excess baggage of corporate mobility

Onboard flight experiences vary wildly airline to airline, but just like the guarantee that you’ll be flying through the air in a long metal box, there is another certainty you’ll encounter: you’ll always be presented with an opportunity to purchase something.
In the case of Frontier, its flight attendants each have a corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE) tablet they use to complete transactions for their passengers onboard.
Under Frontier’s previous onboard sales system, software installed on the tablets kept falling out of date. Considering that the company currently manages 1,750 mobile devices, this out-of-date information was the cause of a major headache for Frontier’s IT staff when running reports or making enhancements to credit card security.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.

Our previous system did not allow us to recognize revenue in a timely manner and in some cases, there were lost transactions and revenues. We knew we needed a new tablet that would be centrally managed, used properly by staff and give us more onboard sales. Andrew Brandess, Special project manager at Frontier Airlines

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Frontier’s flight path to success

Frustrated with these issues, Andrew and the team knew they’d have to try something fresh. So they employed a fleet of new Samsung tablets, using Verizon Wireless to provide 4G access to the devices.
But introducing 4G to the dual-purpose devices created a new set of challenges for the business. How could it ensure the tablets were secure from threats? How could it enforce acceptable use policy for staff using the devices in their spare time? And how could it manage potentially spiraling data costs?
Enter Wandera and MobileIron. Designed to work in tandem, these solutions securely manage both the data being used and the devices themselves. This combination of solutions has actually been recommended by analysts as the best way to control roaming data.

With the Wandera solution we were able to allow work-related applications which reduced the 4G usage substantially and eliminated overages. 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.Andrew Brandess, Special project manager at Frontier Airlines


Discovering additional benefits

Expecting the devices to be racking up data due to the combination of personal and business use by flight attendants, Frontier budgeted for roughly 300GB of data per month. But Andrew and the team were pleasantly surprised see find they never exceeded 65GB once the new program was in place.

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. Andrew Brandess, Special project manager at Frontier Airlines


When Frontier activated the integrated MobileIron and Wandera solution, the company’s onboard sales increased by roughly 25% overnight, thanks to a mix of faster payment processing, fewer declined credit cards and more inventive and sophisticated selling techniques.
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. Andrew Brandess, Special project manager at Frontier Airlines

The firm has no plans to stop here. It’s next destination will be the extension of the tablet program to include baggage offices, allowing luggage agents to file missing items and hopefully continue to add significant business value far and wide across the enterprise.
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