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Delta mobilizes in-flight experience for improved customer service

Delta is arming 19,000 flight attendants with mobile devices to let employees accept payments and streamline in-flight customer service.

The program was previously in pilot mode and is now rolling out at a larger scale. Delta is working with Microsoft, AT&T, Avanade and Nokia on the initiative that uses Nokia Lumia 820 phones.

“Delta’s flight crews are a highly mobile workforce, so it makes sense for us to focus on mobile devices to provide them with the tools they need to provide great customer service,” said Trebor Banstetter, spokesman for Delta, Atlanta.

“The solution we’re rolling out today is just the beginning of an ongoing program to leverage mobile devices and apps for our flight crews, we’ll be expanding this program even more in the future,” he said.

Fly on mobile
With the Windows Phone 8 devices, Delta flight attendees will be able to process credit cards for on-board items such as food and drinks.

Once a payment is processed, a receipt can be sent to travelers via email.

Additionally, flight attendees will be able to access frequent flier information for passengers, update connecting gate information and view scheduling updates via the Nokia devices.

The phones leverage Avanade’s point-of-sale platform and run on AT&T’s 4G LTE networks.

The technology being used on a plane

Upping mobile investments
Delta’s rollout of mobile devices is the latest example of how airlines are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to elevate the on-board flying experience for consumers.

For example, JetBlue has also been active in this space with in-flight Wi-Fi and tablets that help employees serve travelers more efficiently (see story).

Additionally, Delta rolled out an app earlier this year that is designed to be used at different parts of the travel experience. One feature hooks up to a device’s Wi-Fi to let travelers access real-time information about the area that they are traveling over (see story).

Although airlines have been in the mobile space for quite a while, it is only recently that brands have leveraged the medium as a tool to aid in customer service.

“For employees, it’s a greatly improved device to process in-flight purchases, with faster processing speeds and more functionality,” Mr. Banstetter said.

“It also provides access to our Fly Delta app, which provides a slew of information about our flights and service which will help them answer customer questions and provide assistance,” he said.

“The benefit for our customers is really the same thing, better service from our flight attendants to make for an improved in-flight experience.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York