The crowdsourcing app Roadie is using its unique business model to help airlines reduce delivery times for misplaced and delayed baggage.

The app, which was launched in 2015, is a sharing economy courier service connecting everyday drivers with people or companies that need items delivered. 

Delta, which Roadie founder and CEO Marc Gorlin said is by far the company's largest airline customer, first began using Roadie for baggage delivery at Daytona Beach Airport during that 2015 launch year. The companies have since expanded their partnership to encompass 51 airports, including Delta's Atlanta and Minneapolis hubs, as well as other significant Delta cities such as Cincinnati and San Francisco.

Jobs posted on the app show that United and Southwest also use Roadie's services in some airports.

The airline's director of airport customer service support, process and strategy talks about its partnership with Roadie for delivering delayed and misplaced baggage.

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Jon Litzenberger, Delta's director of airport customer service support, process and strategy, calls Roadie the Lyft of the baggage delivery business. 

The app alerts potential drivers when a delivery job becomes available, showing the pickup and delivery points as well as the fee for the delivery. Drivers accept jobs that are convenient, meaning that in the case of airline baggage, the deliverer could very will be a newly arrived passenger en route from the airport, or it could be an airline employee heading home from work. 

Drivers are paid as little as $10 or less for short runs and more than $100 for a run that will take hours to complete. All Roadie app users submit to a background check before they are allowed to drive for the company. 

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Delta is already among the U.S. industry leaders in baggage handling. Still, when the carrier does make baggage errors, Roadie has reduced delivery times by an average of 65%, Litzenberger said. That means average time savings ranging from a little more than an hour to up to three to four hours, depending on the airport. 

Those reductions, Litzenberger said, come, in part, because Roadie drivers tend to pick up bags faster than traditional delivery vendors and because they typically make just one delivery per run.

Airline customers can also track their bags while the Roadie driver is en route from the airport, meaning that customers don't have to wait around their home or hotel, unsure when their bags will arrive. 

To personalize how his company is helping Delta customers, Gorlin likes to tell the story of 18-month-old Syl Lou of Atlanta. Arriving back in Atlanta from a trip to Disney, Lou's mother Jacquie was unable to claim the suitcase containing her son's Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy dancing Groot doll. The delay could have been disruptive for the toddler, who plays with the doll each night as Jacquie reads him the bedtime story "Night, Night Groot."

But, Gorlin said, Roadie solved that potential problem by delivering the Groot doll just 30 minutes after the Lous arrived home.

Personal stories like that, he said, don't come from traditional baggage couriers. 

"The super thing is the sense of the community that comes from doing this gig," Gorlin said.


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