Home Airlines And The Award For The Worst Execution Of A Good Idea Goes To…. Delta Airlines

And The Award For The Worst Execution Of A Good Idea Goes To…. Delta Airlines

by joeheg

For how much I say I like flying on Delta as a passenger, I sure do tend to send my share of shade in their general direction. I have to admit that they’ve been ahead of the competition when it comes to allowing passengers to use technology to manage their travel experience. Whether it’s a real-time seat map on the app, push notifications about flight changes like delays or gate changes or the ability for you to track your checked bags from the drop off desk to getting on the plane and eventually getting a notification about which baggage claim you can find your bag, Delta’s been there first and their execution has been pretty darn good.

When a company operates so efficiently, the times when they do something not so efficient tend to stand out even more than they would have otherwise. Such was the case on a flight on Delta from Orlando airport.

Delta was trying to solve the problem of people gathering around the boarding gate. You know, the people who stand in front of the gate even if they purchased basic economy tickets and will be the last ones onboard the plane. These are people angrily referred to as “Gate Lice.”

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While Delta has gone to a “branded” boarding process using their corporate color palette to try and inform passengers of their boarding groups, they still have to deal with people trying to board when it’s not their turn. In order to solve the problem, Delta decided to use technology and while the idea is admirable, the execution was terrible.

After we left The Club @ MCO (which we have access to with our Priority Pass membership) we walked to the gate and was greeted with this all too familiar scene.

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The gate agents were telling passengers that they could see if their upgrades had cleared and check seat assignments on the monitors in the gate area.

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I still love the late 80’s vibe of the airport signs in Orlando

The boarding groups would also be indicated on the monitors, going from Passport Plum to Basic Blue. I cried a bit thinking she had to say that for every flight, but that’s not the subject of this post.

When the boarding process started, no one seemed to move.

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Why didn’t they see the boarding group on the monitor you may be asking? Well, because none of the monitors were facing towards the walkway where the majority of people were standing to wait to board the flight.

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Sure, this position is great if you’re sitting in a seat or standing in line to talk to a gate agent but for the rest of us, the monitors were useless. We also couldn’t hear the announcements clearly in the walkway so no one knew when to board, and we were the ones on the flight who spoke English as a primary language and knew Delta’s boarding process.

So Delta, if you want people to board based on the boarding group showing on the monitors in the gate area, you need to make sure that some of those monitors are facing where people tend to stand when waiting to board a flight.

Once they solve that problem, this is a great idea. You don’t even have to speak the language to understand boarding numbers on a monitor matching your boarding pass. Delta’s other technology still worked just fine because I received a notification on my phone at the moment boarding started.

I know Delta and Orlando Airport will eventually get this right. It’s just going to take people to tell them how they swung for the fences with this one and took a big whiff.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

11 comments

I Love Dan June 6, 2019 - 12:46 pm

No amount of monitor placement will fix this issue. The monitors are actually exactly where they need to be for people NOT crowding the gate area. What use would they be if everyone was blocking the boarding lanes staring up at monitors?
They could tattoo the boarding group on these Gate Lice’s arms and they’d still crowd the boarding area before their designated times.

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Bob June 6, 2019 - 1:09 pm

United’s App was light years ahead of DL’s well before they finally got around to making the changes you note in your article. The UA app is still much cleaner and easier to navigate if you ask me.

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JBorn June 7, 2019 - 3:48 am

Came here to say this. I’m not a blind fanboy of UA, but about two years ago a friend who’s lifelong Delta saw me checking various info on my UA app and was blown away.

Seems like Delta has at least partially caught up.

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joeheg June 7, 2019 - 9:15 pm

I only use the United app to look for award tickets and it’s maddening that even though I ask for business class fares, they sort coach awards towards the top of the list on flights where business isn’t available. I haven’t jad to use it for anything else.

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Joe June 6, 2019 - 8:21 pm

Delta should do away with the basic economy as an option. That would eliminate some of the gate crowding. I can’t wait until they start selling standing only seats for those that want cheaper tickets. Then they get pissed off while inflight because the are uncomfortable. Better have plenty of air Marshalls on board. Delta is all about the bottom dollar not about the customer.

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Jonathan June 6, 2019 - 9:05 pm

The idea is not to stand in the main walkway at airports, how many times have you had to excuse yourself through a line of gate lice to get to another gate further down. Putting Monitors in the designated waiting area encourages people to sit in said waiting area.

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Jim June 6, 2019 - 9:08 pm

Maybe the monitors face the seating area because that’s where people should be to avoid “gate lice.”

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Liz garcua June 6, 2019 - 10:05 pm

I am a Delta Amex Customer and always flying delta since I a gold Amex I am allowed to board first but never get to use my perk that I’m paying for which is Not Good why give it if it don’t automatically
Come up

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Jjj3 June 6, 2019 - 10:33 pm

Crowding the gate has nothing to do with awareness of the boarding process.

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MrsZ June 6, 2019 - 11:02 pm

It should logically be that the rear passengers should board FIRST and have to sit, waiting, in the back of the plane until the FIRST class passengers do. Overhead bins should be kept closed until the seat occupants arrive. If kindergarteners can do this grown people can, too!

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Wally June 6, 2019 - 11:57 pm

Delta Air Lines. Any shred of credibility is lost if you can’t correctly bame the company you are critiquing.

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