Transparency at Delta


Jon Udell blogs about something that those of us who fly Delta regularly have known for a while: Delta is an airline that gets IT.  Jon, in describing about the gate information system, says the following about one of its features:

Seating status. A realtime window onto the secrets formerly known only to the desk agents.

1st class coach
seats checked in (claimed) 22 153
seats reserved (unclaimed) 1 22
seats unassigned 1 48

Simple. Obvious. And yet, revolutionary. The line was moving slowly, there was only one agent at the desk, blood pressures were starting to cook. But at a glance, I could see that with 22 reserved seats still unclaimed, and 12 people in front of me in the line, there wasn't going to be a problem.

This is a great example of how IT can increase transparency, give people useful information, and thus keep customers happy.  I'm sure it also builds in some accountability for the gate agent as well. 

Those of us who fly Delta regularly also get to enjoy Delta's wonderful web site with real time links into the reservation system.  I've been on the phone, talking to the agent, upgraded to first class on the web site, and had the agent see the change seconds later in the reservation system.  That's some good integration.  I blogged in August about Charlie Feld, the legendary CIO of Frito-Lay who is responsible for the IT turn around at Delta. 

Now I wish someone would do something for Sprint.  Does anyone know why a company would spend hundreds of millions in capital to build out their next generation network, which is supposedly all about data, and then do such a crappy job on the web site that services it?  The phones are beautiful, the service itself is good, but the execution of the mobile features just plain sucks.  Go figure.