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01-12-2014 | Case study | Issue 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Big Data 1/2014

Airline new customer tier level forecasting for real-time resource allocation of a miles program

Journal of Big Data > Issue 1/2014
Jose Berengueres, Dmitry Efimov
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​2196-1115-1-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

We do not have any competing interest. We do not work for any airline or have a commercial relationship with any airline or any financial interest.

Authors’ contributions

JB developed de business logic and DE carried out the data modelling. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This is a case study on an airline’s miles program resource optimization. The airline had a large miles loyalty program but was not taking advantage of recent data mining techniques. As an example, to predict whether in the coming month(s), a new passenger would become a privileged frequent flyer or not, a linear extrapolation of the miles earned during the past months was used. This information was then used in CRM interactions between the airline and the passenger. The correlation of extrapolation with whether a new user would attain a privileged miles status was 39% when one month of data was used to make a prediction. In contrast, when GBM and other blending techniques were used, a correlation of 70% was achieved. This corresponded to a prediction accuracy of 87% with less than 3% false positives. The accuracy reached 97% if three months of data instead of one were used. An application that ranks users according to their probability to become part of privileged miles-tier was proposed. The application performs real time allocation of limited resources such as available upgrades on a given flight. Moreover, the airline can assign now those resources to the passengers with the highest revenue potential thus increasing the perceived value of the program at no extra cost.
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