Lean Six Sigma in the Airline Industry

lean six sigma airline

Lean Six Sigma in the airline industry could be one of the most in-demand business methodologies in a struggling and beleaguered sector. Even before the pandemic, airlines were not the optimal environment for positive customer experiences. The impacts of the pandemic worsened a toxic customer environment. But, even with these challenges, the industry is rising to pre-pandemic levels of demand by customers, and there has never been a more critical time for Lean Six Sigma in the airline industry.

Each one of us can recount horror stories of dismal customer service when flying for a business or personal trip. These experiences begin at the curbside and end at the curbside of the destination. They range from minor irritations to full-on rage of frustration. But let’s put aside our personal feelings and look at some facts:

  • Complaints about airline service in June 2022 were up 296.6% compared to June 2019
  • 28.8% of complaints concerned cancellations and delays of deviations from schedules
  • 24.5% of complaints concerned refunds
  • Concerns focused on tarmac delays, mishandled baggage, mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, bumping/oversales, incidents involving animals, treatment of disabled passengers, and discriminatory behavior

In such a tumultuous environment, the airlines must consider correctly applying Lean Six Sigma methodologies, with full-on buy-in from the top. 

One of the first and most essential focuses needs to be passenger satisfaction. The voice of the customer is crucial to the future success of the airline industry. Using data gleaned from surveys, focus groups, and interviews, critical-to-quality (CTQ) requirements can be established. Every aspect of Lean Six Sigma and Voice of the Customer (VOC) needs to be brought to bear and implemented with passion and commitment.

Airlines move the world, and there is no other industry that impacts individuals on a global scale. To continue to thrive, Lean Six Sigma in the airline industry could provide a boost to a lethargic industry, riddled with unhappy customers and service levels that border on intolerable.

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