Airlines explore technology to avoid crisis related to overbooking

Airline crew and technologyMajor airlines such as British Airways, JetBlue and Qantas are exploring a new technology to avoid crisis related to overbooking, Reuters reported.

Many airlines overbook flights because a small number of passengers do not show up during the travelling day. Airlines request passengers to change flights before boarding if planes are overloaded, usually in exchange for cash.

Offloading a passenger is not an easy task. IATA says airline passenger numbers will increase to 4.3 billion in 2018. Passenger traffic is expected to rise 6 percent. Revenues from airline passenger business are expected to grow to $581 billion (+9.2 percent on $532 billion in 2017).

Atlanta-based travel technology company Volantio has developed a tech platform to identify passengers most likely to be flexible about their flights and enable airlines to contact them in the days before they are due to depart.

The carrier can offer an alternative seat plus incentives such as an upgrade or travel vouchers.

Volantio CEO Azim Barodawala said anyone who opts in to its system can be contacted. Machine learning algorithms will use data such as information available on the flight list to help determine which types of passengers might be ready to change.

The technology will enable airlines to potentially shift passengers from high demand flights and free up tickets for last-minute travelers prepared to pay a premium. It gives airlines the ability to generate some extra revenue. It could help airlines if they need to free up seats to rebook passengers following disruptions such as those related to bad weather.

Volantio has mobilized $2.6 million in a funding round, led by Ingleside Investors, representing the interests of the New York-based Israel family, but also involving BA-owner International Airlines Group, JetBlue, and Qantas.

Yana, Volantio’s web-based platform, leverages machine learning algorithms to drive higher unit revenues and improved capacity utilization after customers have booked their flights, while also improving customer experience.

Atlanta-based Volantio has launched both revenue and operations focused versions of Yana with Qantas, Iberia, Volaris, and Alaska Airlines, and it has a number of additional carriers in the pipeline.

Airlines use the technology to identify flexible passengers on high demand flights, make them offers to move to lower demand flights, and automatically rebook them once they accept. Passengers are notified, via mobile, days in advance of departure, minimizing last-minute hassle.