Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian delivered a keynote address at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. At this show, Delta has unveiled a host of new innovations designed to improve the travel experience. Simple Flying takes a look at what Delta unveiled at CES 2020.
Delta Air Lines at CES 2020
In his address, Ed Bastian laid out the focus of Delta’s innovations to the travel experiences saying:
We see technology as a tool to further our mission of connecting people and creating opportunities. We’re not chasing shiny objects or tech for the sake of being cool. We are dedicated to solving your travel problems and making your voyages – and your lives – easier.
The airline is moving forward on a number of fronts to provide a more innovative travel experience. One of the important aspects of this is the seamless integration of technology into the experience. Here are a few big highlights:
Delta to launch ‘Parallel Reality’
Parallel Reality is a new experience that Delta will launch in Detroit later this year. According to the airline, this technology is designed to tailor a passenger’s experience at the airport. It uses biometrics and is completely opt-in.
Essentially, multiple passengers can look at a screen and see travel information that is unique to them. Delta highlights information such as directions to a gate, weather at a final destination, and directions to a Sky Club in a language of the passenger’s choice– no translation device necessary.
About 100 passengers will get to beta test this in Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport this year. The large screen will be located just after security at Concourse A of the McNamara Terminal at Detroit. To use, passengers will scan their boarding pass, select a language, and see what they need to see even as they move around the screen. However, Delta noted that passenger information captured in this product is not stored.
This innovation is pretty cool. However, with millions of passengers each year, it remains to be seen how this technology works in action. Ultimately, it depends on the efficiency of the system and the number of screens Delta sets up.
The technology is proprietary so there are not a lot of details as to how each passenger will only see their own information. However, this is definitely something that would be interesting to test out.
Delta to expand inflight entertainment
If there is one thing Delta is incredibly proud of, its the airline’s inflight entertainment. Thus, it was no surprise that Delta announced some forthcoming improvements to inflight entertainment systems.
Most of Delta’s long-term fleet is equipped with on-demand seatback screens. However, not all of Delta’s flights are long enough to watch an entire season or complete a whole movie. So, Delta is working on making content available in the air available online after check-in. This allows a passenger to start watching something on the ground and continue it once in the air.
In addition, Delta will soon offer some new online features. For avid TV show watchers, Delta will introduce a “binge button” that plays episodes one after another so passengers do not have to manually select each episode on the seatback screen. And, if you are an indecisive traveler, Delta unveiled at CES 2020 that the airline will offer a “recommended for you” feature which is based upon a passenger’s viewing behavior.
Lastly, Delta is also going to test a new Main Cabin feature on top of the airline’s new service model. Like some business class products, Delta’s IFE will soon have options for passengers to either be woken up for meal service or to use a do not disturb button. This will roll out on select long-haul flights. Hopefully, however, this does expand.
It is good to see an airline invest in inflight entertainment while others rip out seatback screens. Most likely, these features from ground to sky will be linked through a passenger’s SkyMiles number. Meanwhile, the do not disturb button should come in handy for passengers who like to sleep. Although, some passengers may just wake up from the commotion and smells in the cabin.
New technology for Delta Air Lines ground staff
Passengers are not the only ones who are seeing new innovations. Delta is even working on improving the work experience for ground staff through the use of a new robotic suit. Called the Sacros Guardian XO, this suit is designed for employees who do a lot of heavy lifting.
Delta boasted that the suit enables employees to “lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly for up to eight hours at a time without strain or fatigue.”
Delta will test this suit in the first part of 2020. However, a location has not yet been determined. But, baggage handlers face a lot of strain during the day and will be some of the most visible beneficiaries from such technology.
It is good to see Delta roll out these new suits for testing, although it remains to be seen exactly how many baggage handlers across Delta’s network will get to use these suits in action once rolled out. Most likely, this technology will be reserved for workers at Delta’s hubs.
New app updates: a digital concierge
Airline apps are pretty handy. Most offer electronic boarding passes, directions to a gate, easy ways to rebook delayed or canceled flights, or choose a new seat. Now, Delta wants to turn the app into a digital concierge service.
Through the airline’s partnership with rideshare app Lyft, the Fly Delta app will one day notify passengers of when they should call a Lyft taking weather and traffic information into consideration. And, passengers can do so through the Fly Delta app.
Furthermore, before a passenger arrives at the airport, the app will start sending information to passengers such as the quickest security checkpoint that passengers should be dropped off at.
Once past security, the app will also offer passengers information about their flight’s boarding process. While most apps, including Delta’s, currently notify a passenger when their flight starts boarding. Delta Air Lines will, as soon as later this month, start notifying passengers when their zone is boarding. Whether or not this lessens the number of passengers boarding before their zone (seriously, just wait until your zone is called!) is a different story.
These developments will likely end up being some of the more useful of updates Delta announced at CES 2020. Reducing stress from potentially arriving late at an airport, to long lines at security, and informing passengers of boarding based on their zone, these updates add another layer of support as airports around the world continue to become busier. And, with technology taking a greater role in the travel process, this will allow people to move their own flight operations hub to a single platform: their phone.
Delta Air Lines has one of the world’s most impressive operations team. The airline has excellent on-time numbers, although some of that can be attributed to padding. But, Delta Air Lines is the largest airline in the world to guarantee bags within 20 minutes of arrival. However, that’s not the end of Delta’s operations improvement.
At CES 2020, Delta embraced new AI-driven technology that takes into account millions of operational data points. The system then uses such information, which includes flight crew restriction times, airport conditions, and aircraft positions among others, to create outcomes that can aid in decision-making at Delta’s operations center.
What about free WiFi?
Well, sorry folks. Delta did not announce free inflight WiFi just yet. While it is clear that the airline is still working towards it, the technology has not yet been perfected. While there are some airlines that do offer free WiFi, Delta is one of the largest airlines in the world. Thus, guaranteeing workable WiFi speeds for all passengers will take some time. So, for now, passengers will have to pay for the feature.
It is no secret that Delta is one of the most innovative carriers in the world. When it comes to streamlining operations, improving technology, and offering passengers some comfortable inflight experiences, the carrier puts up some strong competition. These new CES 2020 developments are fantastic for frequent fliers looking to make the travel experience a little more stress-free.
For now, however, most of these developments have not yet rolled out on a large-scale. But, they should be coming soon. Now, if only Delta would expand its international long-haul route network….
What do you make of these new Delta CES 2020 announcements? Let us know in the comments!