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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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