ATLANTA- Approximately 2.9 million passengers traverse the United States daily, spending an average of up to three hours onboard flights. However, not all flights offer the same experience.
With increasing travel demand, frequent flyers are now emphasizing the quality of their journeys. Airlines are compelled to innovate and adjust to cater to the needs of modern travelers, seeking ways to enhance customer experiences that go beyond traditional perks like upgrade listings, aiming to foster customer loyalty.
Delta Doubles Wi-Fi Rollout
Ranjan Goswami, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Design at Delta Air Lines (DL), notes, “The evolution of the in-flight experience continues to be closely tied to the changing experiences in consumers’ everyday lives.” In today’s context, this involves a shift towards curated experiences replicating the comforts customers enjoy at home.
Traditionally, airline loyalty programs have been based on the concept of long-term benefits, where customers sign up, accumulate loyalty over time, and eventually receive rewards. However, with heightened competition due to increased travel demand, Delta has broadened its focus and allocated resources to offer more immediate benefits to enhance customer loyalty.
Delta’s commitment to providing instant value to customers has led to several groundbreaking innovations within the airline.
These innovations include free, high-quality streaming Wi-Fi and personalized, multi-screen experiences that mirror customers’ home connectivity.
32 Million Streaming-quality
In response to the evolving interests of customers, Delta is significantly expanding its connectivity offerings. Delta’s complimentary Wi-Fi service is already accessible on most domestic mainline flights, covering over 620 aircraft, and has experienced a successful launch.
Over the past year, passengers have engaged in more than 32 million streaming-quality sessions using this unique internet option, providing high-speed streaming and enabling travelers to explore new content and entertainment.
The provision of streaming-capable connectivity allows Delta to enhance the overall journey for its customers. Two entertainment products have been developed as part of the in-flight Wi-Fi experience, complementing each other throughout the flight.
Best in-flight Connectivity
The first product, Delta Sync Wi-Fi, presented by T-Mobile, is accessible on personal devices and can be used at no charge through a Wi-Fi login page with a free SkyMiles membership.
In addition to reliable connectivity, members gain immediate access to exclusive content and offers from carefully selected brands, tailored to meet the preferences of Delta’s customers during their flights—ranging from watching the latest movies to engaging in brain-stimulating activities and games, staying connected with loved ones, and being productive with work and other commitments.
The second product, Delta Sync seatback, enhances the airline’s seatback screens. This update is designed to mimic the user-friendly experience of smart TVs at home.
It greets customers by name, updates estimated arrival times, connection gates, and baggage status, incorporates features commonly found on popular streaming services, and offers a library of over 1,000 hours of movies, TV series, and Spotify-curated playlists.
Currently being introduced on select aircraft, it boasts best-in-class content, technology that remembers a customer’s progress in a movie, a list of favorite movies and series, and more.
“We view the aircraft as a potent digital platform for tailored customer interaction, immersion, and exploration,” remarks Goswami. “This is why we closely monitor customer needs and expectations.”
Behind the scenes, Delta is dedicated to understanding how customers prefer to engage with the platform to make real-time adjustments, continually enhancing the experience.
“We’ve observed that, much like in their living rooms, many individuals enjoy using multiple screens simultaneously during flights—watching content on the seatback screen, working on their laptops, and staying in touch with family and friends via their cell phones. The curation features on Delta Sync were designed with this multitasking customer in mind.”
Despite the positive reception of these innovations among travelers, implementing them on the scale required for a global airline posed a challenge.
“Changing the satellite capabilities on hundreds of aircraft is certainly not a simple router swap. It requires a hands-on approach from our coordinated team of engineers, developers, designers, product leaders, and technicians working tirelessly alongside trusted satellite connectivity partners.”
“What we are doing in terms of connectivity and curated digital experiences onboard the plane builds on what our people already do so well. As customers deepen their relationships with Delta through these logged-in member experiences, we’re able to know and serve them better, providing more seamless journeys, proactive and flexible care, and memorable interactions.”
As of November 1, 2023, over 1.6 million fliers have enrolled in SkyMiles to enjoy free Wi-Fi, and all have experienced immediate value from this choice, according to Goswami.
Joining SkyMiles and completing a profile allows Delta Sync to personalize customers’ in-flight experiences using that information automatically.
Goswami explains, “It not only gives us a head start in earning their business next time but also unlocks an entirely new way of serving them in the moment. Delta Sync helps us recognize and reward our loyal members by placing them at the center of their journeys, ultimately strengthening their preference for our brand.”
These innovative enhancements align with the company’s commitment to connectivity. Delta ranked No. 12 on the Fortune Most Admired Companies list for 2023, and it has consistently upheld its reputation for operational reliability and building strong customer relationships.
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