You guys really came through--I received nearly 70 entries to the "Are You Smarter Than A Schedule Planner" contest. I went through them, eliminated ones that violated the rules (primarily, curfew and balance), blanked out the entrant's names, then submitted them to the judges. Some entries were very similar, but we're used to that. There are always differences in line construction, turn time, and market timing in a schedule--which is what Schedule Planners juggle all of the time.
The three judges--Pete McGlade, Vice President of Schedule Planning, Adam Decaire, Director of Network Schedules, and Mike Friedman, Manager of Network Schedules--are totally used to deciding between very similar schedule candidates that come from different scenarios produced by our schedule Optimizer. The discussion on Friday afternoon was spirited--it was specific--and it was a lot of fun!
After the smoke cleared, we had an Employee winner selected, but couldn't decide between the top two finalists in the non-Employee group. So, we took a cue from this year's "American Idol" and decided to name TWO winners! We'll be bringing *two* non-Employees, and their guests, for a wild day at Southwest Headquarters.
Our winners ARE:
Chris Wehmeyer, Ramp Supervisor, Kansas City
Mark Robinson, Colorado
Brett Snyder, California
I'm going to try and e-mail many of you why your entry wasn't selected (I had the flu this weekend, so I'll do that while I'm conscious!), but other than violation of the basic rules (see a re-do of the .PDF file attached below), the majority of the "deal-breakers" can be categorized in the following general areas:
- Market timing. Each market has an individual "time-of-day demand curve" but we all can kind of figure out what it is--if it's a business market, you want something in the morning and back in the evening, yet you don't want to go much earlier than 7:00 a.m. (local) or later than 8:00 p.m. (local). Leisure markets are different--you want to fly into Vegas to get there around hotel check-in time, and want to leave just after hotel check-out time. Entries were evaluated based on those admittedly subjective criteria.
- Through patterns. As I said in the rules/hint sheet, onestop traffic is significant. Entries that had the LAS-BWI flight as a Vegas originator didn't go far, nor did ones that didn't connect the BWI-MCI-OAK pucks.
- Turn times. Our average turn time is between 25 and 30 minutes. If aircraft on-the-ground times were outside our norms, entries were penalized.
Again--THANK YOU to all of you that entered the contest! We'll post pictures and a chronicle of the celebration in Dallas on March 24. And don't forget your scheduling "skills"....we may have a new challenge coming for you next year!