With worldwide air traffic projected to double in the next twenty years, the aviation industry is one of fastest growing industries in the world. What makes this sector special is that it has access to a huge amount of data from multiple sources, as illustrated by the infographic above.

In this article, we look at how airline brands are using analytics to offer a superior customer experience.



United Airlines was using a system of “collect and analyze” information – where aggregated data was classified into categories to gain valuable insights into each category. Recently, it has moved to a process of “collect, detect and act” – where the algorithm analyzes 150 variables in a customer profile. Everything from previous purchases to customer priorities is measured in order to present a tailor-made offer. This system has increased United Airlines’ year-over-year revenue by more than 15%.

In 2013, British Airways launched “Know me” – a data-centric program to offer meaningful experience to its customers, right from check-in to baggage claim. The system arms the team with ample information about the customer and helps them personalize each customer’s travel extensively. For example, if the customer has recently had a delayed flight, or has come from a different timezone, it is highlighted to the staff – so they take extra care to make him comfortable.



Pricing and Operations

Analysing the booking data for flight tickets can help airlines understand demand trends and seasonality. This helps them alter prices, availability and schedule accordingly. It also helps them decide on opening new routes, etc.

Southwest has developed a big data platform, in conjunction with GE’s Flight Efficiency Services. This platform tracks the fuel usage of its Boeing engines and is helping Southwest save millions of dollars annually.


Safer flights

A lot of data is generated every journey – such as pilot reports, incident reports, control positions and warning reports. To understand the quantum of data generated, consider this: each engine of a Boeing 737 produces over 20 terabytes of data per hour. A typical six-hour cross-country flight generates 240 terabytes of sensor data from a single plane.

Some airline brands are monitoring and analyzing this data to improve flight safety. Southwest Airlines has partnered with NASA to come with an algorithm to prevent potential accidents. The algorithm is built on machine learning and uses flight data to indicate potential safety anomalies.

Japan Airlines, in collaboration with IBM Japan,  uses a data collection system that measures the temperature of airplane components. The goal is to collect enough data, to be able to predict and avoid technical problems and prevent flight cancellations. About 200 flights get canceled every year, by Japan Airlines, due to mechanical failures. By detecting airplanes which deviate from the “Big data mean”, they hope to decrease this number.



Tracking customer behavior in the airport

Turkish Airlines is planning to use IoT and big data at the Istanbul’s new airport at 2018.

They will use beacons in the new Istanbul airport which will interact with smartphones to assist customers to navigate their way to lounges, food, and retail and to the boarding gates. In addition to that, customers will be able to save the location of where they park their car and track their children with smart bracelets.

Southwest airlines use a speech analytics tool called “Aspect” to understand every small nuance of the customer. They also get data about customers from social media – and use it to personalize their experience.

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