I would think that as the score criteria
become more widely known, websites will
crop up that will try to analyze and forecast
what flights are likely to have the right balance of factors to possibly mitigate the risk
of delays or cancellation.
Travel agents, online or off, can certainly
take advantage of some assumptions. Since
this is largely a numbers game — airlines
are trying to irritate as few people as possible — it’s a safe bet that the larger the plane,
the more likely it is to have a simple majority of “important” people. Likewise, there
will be higher
loyalty members on flights departing to and
from an airline’s hub airport.
It’s hard to know whether to look at
Opera Solutions’ Flight Value Score as a
program that primarily brings a level of
personalization to a system that had previously been indifferent to individual circumstances or one that basically ignores
individual needs in favor of the privileged
few and automated decision-making.
The egalitarian in me is drawn to the
inherent fairness of first come, first served,
and I’m wary of how my personal data is
used, but today’s data mining can also be
viewed as a de facto form of passive democracy: With the Flight Value Score, the
majority always wins, and Gupta says customer satisfaction numbers show “an enormous uptick” where it’s deployed.
If that’s true, there’s no turning back. It
would appear that, in more than one sense,
the janitors of data will be cleaning up for
some time to come.
Email Arnie Weissmann at aweissmann@
travelweekly.com and follow him on Twitter
If you’re a frequent flyer, you know there
could be myriad reasons why. Maybe your
equipment is delayed coming in. Or the crew
on the other flight is in danger of timing out.
Your flight may have a minor mechanical issue that needs attention. Perhaps your flight
is being held for the benefit of connecting
passengers whose inbound flights are delayed, or, conversely, the on-time, Kennedy-bound departure has several passengers who
might otherwise miss overseas connections.
Yes, all of those factors can come into
play, but thanks to recently deployed technology, the real reason might be that the
collective loyalty status of flyers on the
other flight is greater than the collective
status on yours. You are delayed because, in
one way or another, the passengers on your
flight are not as important to the airline as
people on the other flight.
Or perhaps those passengers are
a combination of important,
Data intersects with the travel
industry is the inclusion of a
Flight Value Score that automates an airline’s analysis of
dynamic events that impact
And for airlines that use
it, that score determines
who will fly and
who will wait.
mula takes crew “legality” and subsequent
duties into account as well as the length of
the trip and anticipated total passenger de-
lay in minutes.
Individual passenger data and “
engagement history” are scrutinized in detail.
How many passengers on each potentially
delayed or canceled flight have requested
extra assistance? How many onboard hold
How many of the passengers on various flights vying for on-time departure
respond well to the airline’s promotions?
How many chronic complainers are onboard? How many passengers have recently been on flights that were delayed 45
minutes or more?
Even the number of poor souls who have
been frequently subjected to middle seats in
the recent past are part of the calculus.
“Airlines have to serve all customers
equally well, but there is a hierarchy
within that,” Arnab Gupta told me.
Gupta is the CEO of Opera Solutions, a Big Data analytics company.
Gupta likened Opera Solutions to a
janitorial company that cleans up
data, doing tedious and messy, but
has been de-
ployed by two large air-
lines, although only one
of them, British Airways, has authorized
him to reveal its name. Opera Solutions
works with a BA program called Know Me,
which uses customer data to craft quick re-
sponses to service issues.
Gupta said that previously, when service
was disrupted, the rule of thumb to rese-quence flights was “first come, first served.”
Delayed planes departed in the order they
were originally scheduled to take off. Authorization for exceptions was decided on a
case-by-case basis and only after review by
And the primary concerns
managers were airport-focused rather than
customer-based, Gupta said.
So, what do we think of this?
One could argue that, traditionally, there
have been only losers when disruptions occurred. Everyone was delayed equally.
Under the emerging system, there will be
clear winners and losers. The system favors
an airline’s most important customers but
also works to maximize the number of winners by factoring in a preference for those
who have already endured recent flight
hardships. Or whose onward trips would
become nightmarish. Or who have already
indicated they need special assistance.
And it reduces the burden on airline personnel who might otherwise be required to
address potential problems later.
To some extent, however, these benefits
are counterbalanced by those unlucky individuals who need extra assistance, who will
miss connections they would have made
under first come, first served and who will
sit down in their middle seat even more
grumpily because the people on their plane
don’t, collectively, have enough juice to
The janitors of data
Bad weather is creating havoc at O’Hare, and a monitor shows that your flight to LaGuardia is delayed for more than an hour. But you also notice that a flight to Kennedy on the same airline is scheduled to take off on time, even though its scheduled de- parture is a few minutes after yours.
It’s how you get there.
On our river cruises, you don’t just pass through a destination – you experience it. Our ships carry a fleet of bicycles on board so that our guests can
explore the heart of Europe on one of our guided bike tours or on their own. Because it’s not just about where you go. It’s how you get there that matters.
800.626.0126 | www.AmaWaterways.com
LEADING THE WAY IN RIVER CRUISING
FROM THE WINDOW SEAT