How Big Data Helps Today’s Airlines Operate

If you can relate to the stress of rushing to the airport, long security lines leading to crowded terminals, boarding passes and IDs, checking and stowing bags, cramped compartments filled with travel weary passengers you probably consider yourself an experienced airline passenger. However, knowing the ins and outs of flying as a passenger doesn’t give the average person insight into the complicated operations side of airlines today. The intense competition within the airline industry leads to innovation as companies seek to save and make money and increase efficiency, with a recent focus on the advantages big data provides.

Examples of airlines creatively using big data to improve performance abounds. United Airlines shifted focus in 2014 and began using the mantra of “collect, detect and analyze” data and saw a 15 percent year-over-year revenue increase in their online sales after offering customers a tailored, big data driven shopping experience. Delta invested in baggage tracking data and then created a baggage tracking app for customers that has been downloaded over 11 million times. Southwest started using a big data platform tracking their Boeing planes’ fuel usage trends, which is saving the airline millions of dollars annually. Japan Airlines recently launched a data collection system that measures temperature on airplane components with IBM Japan. The idea is to collect enough data to predict technical problems and prevent costly flight cancellations.

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