Analysts say a new feature on the Delta SkyPro app, which is
used by the carrier's flight attendants, could be an important step forward in
airline customer service.
The feature, which the airline rolled out in December, mines
Delta's storehouse of data ahead of each domestic flight and gives flight
attendants a prioritized list of customers to recognize based on details like
Medallion status, corporate traveler standing and SkyMiles milestones.
More significantly, according to analysts, the feature
informs flight attendants which passengers have experienced significant delays
on recent itineraries. They are then able to approach those passengers to offer
recognition of the frustration they endured. The feature is only applicable to
"Sometimes all people want is an acknowledgment and an
apology and a promise that the crew will help them have a better journey,"
Atmosphere Research Group analyst Henry Harteveldt said.
Other airlines also have apps for flight attendants that
mine company data. Alaska flight attendants, for example, use mobile apps that,
among other functions, tell them the names and seats of elite Mileage Plan
members as well as which passengers have special service requests, such as
British Airways arms senior cabin crew, pilots and customer
service agents at busy airports with iPads equipped with proprietary apps that
are refreshed just before the departure of a flight. Apps and software offer
access to data showing customer preferences and previous travel arrangements as
well as special meal requests and connecting travel plans. The app also shows
cabin crew where each customer is seated, who they are traveling with, their
Executive Club status and any special meal requests.
Delta says that SkyPro is using big data on a larger scale
than competing airlines. The new features augment SkyPro functions introduced
beginning in 2015 that gave flight attendants information on connecting flights
as well as passenger names and their SkyMiles loyalty status.
The new functionality, for example, enables flight
attendants to congratulate a customer who is crossing the million-mile
Still, Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst at
Phocuswright, said the big breakthrough with the SkyPro upgrade is that it's
not just focusing on the trip at hand but is looking at experiences passengers
have had during previous Delta flights.
"It's cross-journey, it's cross-trip, which is very passenger
oriented, and that's what airlines need to do these days," he said.
Offutt praised Delta as a trailblazer in passenger
innovation within the airline industry. He said that, for example, it was the
first U.S. carrier to actually display a flight's standby list on monitors at
"I think this is another example of pretty great
leadership and recognizing that they have to do other things for their
passengers," Offutt said.
Delta spokeswoman Ashton Morrow said that in some cases
flight attendants would be empowered to use SkyPro's information on who has
suffered recent delays or other inconveniences to offer some sort of service
during the flight, such as an upgrade or perhaps free food service.
"The secret sauce is that Delta is going to empower
those flight attendants," Harteveldt said.