Premise

In the ever-changing, cutthroat airline world, Delta is striking a blow of modernization: out with the old (planes), in with the new (free wifi?!). This article by Barrons discusses an interview with Delta CEO Ed Bastian, where he shares his thoughts and goals, designed to win over customers and keep their loyalty . Delta is ranked as the best-managed airline – which is impressive in its own right, and perhaps it is looking to further distinguish itself from the pack.

Plans and topics discussed include the below:

  • Free, high-speed Wifi
  • Capital investments in new planes and technology
  • Other QOL improvements for customers
  • Employee Bonuses

 

Free, High-Speed Wifi!?

Currently Delta wifi is on a majority of planes – but costs $16 per day of travel within North America, or about $600 for an annual pass. This is in line with competitive offerings – United prices range from 2 hours to the flight length, to something like $30 for a full 24 hours. United also sells wifi subscriptions for $49 monthly or $539 annually. Excessive, by most people’s standards, and usually limited to business travelers and the wealthy. By making it free, Delta is throwing a rock into the calm, steady profits of airplane wifi. Perhaps this will lead to a cascade reaction by other airlines, but it is too early to tell. Some airlines offer things like free entertainment, or free texting, but I don’t think any offer free wifi as of yet. Bastian says his goal is free Wifi “with high-speed quality” in “another year or two”. This makes me excited – even though I don’t fly Delta very often!

Even more reasons not to talk to each other!

 

Infrastructure & Capital Expenditures

As Barney Stinson once said, “new is always better”. I’m pleased to hear about $4.5 billion in capital expenditures replacing about a third of its aging fleet, which is the oldest in the airlines. It just feels more comfortable for me to be in a newer plane, with better amenities. Additionally, Delta plans to spend $12 billion to upgrade or overhaul terminals such as LaGuardia and LAX. This would make for a better and more efficient customer experience, leading to higher customer (and shareholder) satisfaction.

Additionally, they already have the first (and second) biometric terminal speeding along international travelers through from curb to gate – an amazing idea, especially not having to present identification! They plan to have it domestically which would be very useful, perhaps even competing with or surpassing the likes of TSA Pre-Check or CLEAR.

Upgrade time

 

Employee Profit-Sharing

The article also calls out Delta’s profit sharing component with its 89,000 employees. Annual bonuses last year totaled $1.3 billion, and averaged about $15,000 per employee. Not bad at all! I’d love to know about the percentiles or distribution and its methodology, but I’m sure they wouldn’t be keen to share that information.

 

Conclusion

I can’t even begin to imagine what it’d be like to have wifi on planes that was free and high-speed, something you’d expect from your workplace, school, or home. It’s usually spotty at best, good for checking email (if even that) and not much else. Would this have a domino effect on the other airlines? Would they have to lower their prices or provide other perks to compensate? How much would this cost Delta to implement (fleet wide) and roll out? So many questions abound, but at least this is a step in the positive and correct direction, rather than in the nickel-and-dime days of yesteryear!

 

 

Featured Image is from Unsplash. Thank you Barrons for the news article. Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which, should you click through and/or make a purchase, grant me a commission. Also, I only post in the best interest of my readers. Lastly, thank you for supporting my blog and my travels. 

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