Our meteorologist saves hundreds of passengers
A chat with our in-house meteorologist Tomasz Wrzaszcz
Using our unique algorithm and our Kiwi.com Guarantee, we’re ensuring not only the best possible deals for our customers but also the smoothest journeys which means, fast, easy, transparent and so on. And this is not all. More than 2 years ago we hired a meteorologist Tomasz (Tom) Wrzaszcz whose job it is to predict adverse weather conditions and prepare our teams and passengers for any potential disruptions.
“In my previous job, I was providing meteorological information to various institutions and decision makers – sometimes the airline dispatcher was calling me asking if I knew how long the fog would last. They needed to prepare flight schedules, backup destinations, calculate the right amount of fuel and the cost of the flight as they were making a decision based on the forecast. Now in Kiwi, I have to know what the weather will be, estimate how the airlines will react and what the possible impact for our customers could be.” says Tomasz.
Tom studied Geography at Gdansk University in Poland and his first job was as a meteorological informant at Gdansk’s airport. Later he got the opportunity to attend weather forecaster training and become an operational forecaster for the Polish national weather service.
What does weather prediction look like in practice?
“The information is spread over different sources and not in the one place. I look for hurricanes, I also check volcano statuses and earthquakes. There is a branch of meteorologists who work exclusively for the aviation industry and they do forecasts for every airport around the world. This type of forecasting is very detailed and because of that, it’s valid for at least 9 hours and up to 36 hours with an accuracy of around 90%” explained Tom.
He is able to predict hurricanes, wind storms and/or heavy precipitation which can result in flooding or snowstorms 3-4 days in advance. For example, it’s very hard to forecast a dense fog or indeed a thunderstorm’s precise location and timeframe more than 12 hours ahead. It’s Tom’s responsibility to foretell a travel emergency before it occurs, to inform the Workforce team, Real Time Analysts and our Guarantee teams so they can react appropriately.
“Social media helps me too – if you set it correctly you can glean a lot of information from the aviation sector. As I’m working 9 to 5, I need to check the weather for the next 48 to 72 hours too. I have access to up-to 7 meteorological models and weather radar which is more than enough for what I do. I’m checking meteorological models, but also the work of my colleagues who make forecasts and warnings all over the world and then I prepare my own detailed forecasts.” – says Tom.
Steps taken when we recognise possible weather disruptions
Before any incident, Tom (with the help of the Customer Support teams) is trying to be proactive and contact our customers and inform them what to do.
“For example, there was a hurricane which went through Osaka in Japan – the second biggest airport in Japan was flooded. It was closed for about a month – they lost a huge amount of revenue, approximately 1 % of PKB (the total amount of money in Japan) and hundreds of thousands of tourists.
Fortunately, we predicted that catastrophic event 3-4 days in advance and sent the information to almost 300 customers about possible hurricane landfall at the airport. We needed to switch off this airport for the next 3 weeks from our search and contact all relevant passengers.”
Another situation in pre-COVID times that Tom remembers clearly was the snowstorm in the centre of the US in 2019. One of the affected airports was in Denver, where we had approximately 150 bookings at the time.
“When 5cm of snow has fallen, airports can have significant delays. Denver was experiencing 20cm of snow and blizzard conditions. I assumed they would close the airport. Within a two day period, they had almost 940 cancellations – almost all air traffic in Denver ceased! Fortunately we had informed our passengers on time.” – said Tom
How COVID-19 influences Tom’s work?
Despite COVID-19, we still connect over 800 carriers with a significant number of countries around the world. The biggest challenge is when there is a force majeure and there are itineraries flying through multiple countries with multiple airlines because each has their own regulations. Although travel has been hit heavily by COVID-19, Tom still predicts severe weather but also works closely with a risk manager to help with various travel emergencies.
Do you want to join our Kiwi.com team and support travelers around the world? Take a look into current open positions.