Delta Air Lines today announced that it has expanded a new technology system that allows SkyMiles Medallion members traveling on its U.S. route system to complete flight check-in via delta.com, a toll-free telephone line, wireless Palm OS powered handhelds or Web-enabled phones. The airline is promoting the new service as the industry`s most extensive virtual check-in product available.
Delta launched the system, called SkyMiles Virtual Check-In, in several East Coast markets earlier this year and now offers the service in all U.S. domestic markets, including San Juan, St. Thomas, Hawaii and Alaska. SkyMiles Virtual Check-In allows Medallion customers—regardless of their country of residence—who possess an electronic ticket and carry-on baggage to check in remotely, from four hours to 30 minutes prior to departure time. Customers simply present their bar-coded Medallion membership card as their permanent boarding card and a photo ID to board the aircraft.
Feedback from the test markets has been positive. “Checking in for flights for our valued Medallion customers now means no more standing in line and no more paper boarding cards,`` said Vicki Escarra, Delta`s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Virtual Check-In is one example of how Delta is saving our customers valuable time at the airport by reducing lines and leveraging the power of technology to enhance their travel experience.”
William Hotchkiss, a Platinum Medallion SkyMiles member based in Jacksonville, Fla., has utilized the SkyMiles Virtual Check-In product almost 20 times to facilitate his weekly travels. “I recently used delta.com to check in, and it was very quick and easy—the whole process took about 20 seconds.`` Hotchkiss estimates he saves at least 10 minutes at the airport every time he uses SkyMiles Virtual Check-In.
Delta has a patent pending on the SkyMiles Virtual Check-in technology, which is unique to the airline industry. “This new system is just one part of Delta`s ongoing strategy to provide additional options for check-in and to make more self-service tools available to our SkyMiles Medallion-level members,” Escarra said.
The new service currently is not available on Delta`s international service or on flights operated by The Delta Shuttle, Delta Express, Delta Connection, and Delta`s worldwide codeshare partners, including SkyTeam.
Escarra said future versions of Delta`s SkyMiles Virtual Check-In will add a component for requesting upgrades. When upgrades are not available to be confirmed in advance, Medallion members will have the option to add their names to a standby list. Other transactions will continue to be handled at the ticket counter.
Delta SkyMiles members earn mileage by flying Delta, the Delta Connection carriers, Delta Express, Delta Shuttle and Delta`s worldwide airline partners, including Delta`s SkyTeam partners. The Delta SkyMiles program offers many other mileage-building opportunities, including the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, MCI, participating hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, restaurants, home buying and selling, flower purchases, shopping and online investing with E*Trade.
Escarra is responsible for all sales, schedule development, revenue management, product development, brand management, and customer service activities. She also leads the In-Flight Service, Reservation Sales, Air Logistics, Delta Express and Delta Shuttle organizations.
Ms. Escarra, who joined Delta in 1973, held a number of key management positions before being named to her current post. Moving steadily through management ranks within In-Flight Service, she eventually reached the position of Director, In-Flight Service Operations, with responsibility for all flight attendants at base locations throughout the world.
She is one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry. She was named as one of the “200 Most Powerful Women in Travel” by Travel Agent magazine in 1997, 1999, and 2000, and to the “100 List of Georgia’s Most Powerful Women” by Women Looking Ahead news magazine in 1999.