With the new updates (version 4.6) to its mobile applications on the iOS and Android platforms, passengers on eligible Delta Air Lines‘ flights would be treated with a simplified automatic check-in process.
Delta Air Lines
How Does It Work?
The automatic check-in feature is available immediately to passengers traveling in the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska), Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands and have the updated mobile applications. At check-in time (24 hours prior to flight departure), passengers would be prompted with a notification or email to enter the mobile application to acknowledge the federal government restricted items policy. Once they have clicked the button, those who already picked a seat or those without a seat assignment as part of the basic economy fare would be able to get a boarding pass.
Once checked in, passengers can add checked bags, change seats and purchase upgrades from the mobile application’s “Today” mode or online.
“Our customers have told us Delta can eliminate some of their stress associated with upcoming travel if they know their boarding pass is ready and can see their seat assignment,” said Rhonda Crawford, Vice President – Global Distribution & Digital Strategy. “Auto check-in provides that peace of mind in a simple, automated solution that also saves valuable time.”
“We’ve approached the app experience with the intention of making it as intuitive as possible,” Crawford continued. “Take, for example, the bag button in ‘Today’ mode: once a customer adds a bag, the bag button will dynamically change to display ‘Track My Bags’ so they can take full advantage of Delta’s industry-leading RFID bag tracking capabilities, through the app.”
There are a few situations where automatic check-ins will not work, they include:
- Reservations that include non-US destinations as part of the itinerary;
- Reservations that do not include SkyMiles® account attached;
- Reservations that have a delay or cancellation present;
- Reservations without a seat assignment present at time of check-in (i.e. those passengers who bought a basic economy fare but the system cannot assign at seat at check-in); and
- Reservations that include a special service request or require assistance from a Delta agent, such as wheelchair service, unaccompanied minor travel, or a pet traveling in the cabin.
- Automatic check-in is turned on by default. Passengers cannot turn this function off within the mobile application, online or with a phone agent;
- Passengers who want to same day standby or same day confirm for an earlier or later flight would have to call Delta Air Lines to uncheck in first. This cannot be performed within the mobile application currently; and
- The new process has no impact to the upgrade or standby order as check-in time is not a determinator.
While no timelines have been given, the airline is expected to extend the automatic check-in function for international itineraries in the future. The new application update might also address challenges with same day standby/confirm requests to reduce call centre interactions.
The Atlanta based Delta Air Lines is not the first North America based airlines to introduce this process. United Airlines (for the return portion of an itinerary), Porter Airlines and jetBlue Airways all have this process in place as part its passenger engagement strategy since 2015.
There are many benefits for airlines to introduce automatic check-in process for all passengers. They include:
- Engage passengers earlier for routine (e.g. meal request, upgrade purchase, other ancillary opportunities) and irregular operations (e.g. delays and cancellations, gate changes);
- Perform capacity / load analysis earlier – real-time check-ins from mobile applications can be reviewed to identify potential overselling situations sooner. This would allow the airline to upgrade passengers to the next classes of cabin to free up capacity and more proactively request for volunteers in an oversold situation;
- Encourage and analyze the use of mobile applications and online tools for passengers to manage their itineraries. This will potentially allow the airline to reduce costs from building big check-in areas at airports and reclaim the space to offer other travel experiences;
- Reduce passenger anxiety on checking into a flight when arriving late to the airport. On eligible itinerary, the passenger who arrives late can proceed through security and to the gate. Those with baggages can drop off faster at arrival; and
- Allow for future integration with virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa to remind passengers to check-in and improves its seamless travel strategy with e-gates (Refer to this insight of its implementation in Atlanta) and biometric initiatives (Refer to this insight for information).
While automatic check-in process is not a new technology, Delta Air Line’s implementation would be the largest of its kind. The new process has many benefits and some challenges for passengers. As the airline continues to invest in seamless travel technologies, passengers will be able to focus more on the travel experience than bottlenecks like check-ins.