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The airline has unveiled a new piece of technology that could change your next trip.
As the busy summer travel season rolls on, airlines are still making changes to better serve the influx of passengers taking to the skies. Some are related to scheduling issues brought on by staffing shortages, which have infamously led to route re-shufflings and scores of cancelations and delays. Still, others are about enhancing the travel experience and making flyers feel like valued customers. Now, Delta has announced that it’s rolling out a new technology that could offer a major change for some passengers at airports before they board their flights. Read on to see how your next pre-boarding experience could be different.
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Like other airlines, Delta has changed some processes as it ramps operations back up after the travel lull created by the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 26, the airline announced that it would cut roughly 100 flights a day from its schedule from July 1 through Aug. 7 to help reduce the likelihood of delays or cancelations. At the time, the company said in a press release that it hoped this would build “additional resilience” and improve “operational reliability for our customers and employees,” per The Points Guy.
Since then, the carrier has made other notable route changes. On June 21, new flight information filed by the airline showed that Delta was cutting service between Atlanta (ATL) and Colorado Springs (COS), Atlanta and Oakland (OAK), Detroit (DTW) and Sacramento (SMF), and scrapping a planned route between Boston (BOS) and Memphis (MEM), The Points Guy reported.
But the company has also made moves when it comes to customer experience. Recent months have seen full meal service return for passengers, featuring a revamped menu with more vegetarian options. Those flying in business class have also seen changes to everything from pre-takeoff drink service to in-flight amenity kits. And frequent flyers rejoiced when the company said it would permanently adopt its COVID-era policy of earning Medallion Qualification Dollars, Medallion Qualification Segments, and Medallion Qualification Miles good towards status with the airline on flights booked with reward points. Now, the latest change from the company could change the travel experience before passengers even jet off.
Finding your flight information on a busy announcements board can be a disorienting and hectic experience—especially if you’re running late. But now, Delta hopes to cut down on the confusion by installing new technology known as “Parallel Reality” for its passengers traveling through Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The groundbreaking experience involves passengers opting in by allowing for a facial recognition scan or scanning their boarding pass. From there, travelers’ flight information is sent to a 21-foot by six-foot digital board capable of emitting different colors of light in different directions, The Washington Post reports. Even though the board can handle 100 travelers at once, passengers on the ground will then only see their own personal details displayed above, including which gate their flight is departing from and how long it will take to walk there.
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Executives with the company explain that once travelers opt in to the experience, the new technology makes it possible for flight information to find them instead of passengers having to hunt it down themselves.
“A relationship is created between your identity and your position, so that the motion camera follows your shape,” Greg Forbes, managing director of airport experience for Delta, told Business Insider. “That’s what tells the display which direction to aim your information. As you move through the viewing space, your location is tracked, and your message follows you.”
Ultimately, the experience should cut down on precious time lost in the hectic atmosphere of a busy airport. “If this new technology can make finding your gate and departure information quicker and easier, we’re not just showing customers a magic trick—we’re solving a real problem,” Ranjan Goswami, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Delta, said in a statement. “Customers already rely on personalized navigation via their mobile devices, but this is enabling a public screen to act as a personal one—removing the clutter of information not relevant to you to empower a better journey.”
As with any new technology, executives are still testing out what Parallel Reality is capable of and remain hopeful that it could soon find other uses. According to Forbes, roughly 1,600 travelers use the screen daily and have provided “great” feedback, as reported by The Post. And while the installation is currently limited to one location, it may not be long before the technology makes its way further into the world.
“If everything keeps going as positively as it has so far, I would expect to see it in more airports and in more places in the airport,” Forbes told the outlet.
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read