This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
If you’ve noticed a bit less chitchat and a little more screen time by crew members while boarding a Delta flight, that’s intentional. Quietly, the airline has rolled out a new app and communication platform dubbed Flight Family Communication, enabling employees assigned to a specific flight to “have the ability to communicate directly with one another about the status of dozens of tasks and customer service items required before departure.”
In some ways, it’s Delta taking the best of a communications platform like Slack and an issues management tool like Jira to create a proprietary system for managing the complexities of flight operations. Pretty much every aspect of getting a flight out on time is fair game on the tool: catering, cleaning, fueling, accounting for carry-on and checked bags, inspecting aircraft, etc.
The real-time digital conversation stream is visible to pilots on electronic flight bag tablets, to flight attendants via handheld SkyPro devices, and on desktop platforms for gate agents, flight dispatchers, system operations managers and Airport Customer Service Tower personnel. It provides each with shared awareness from their own work spaces in the airport or around the aircraft about the status of pre-flight activities, instead of relying on word of mouth, radios and jetway phones to relay information through multiple people — an antiquated process that airlines have been beholden to for decades.
Initial tests of Flight Family Communication resulted in a “45 percent decrease in the amount of time employees spent traversing the jet bridge to talk with one another during pre-departure.” Flight attendants and gate agents, for example, are now able to message directly with each other about whether overhead bin space is reaching capacity for carry-on bags, or if there are two people with the same seat assignment, and address each more quickly with minimal disruption to customers.
Since Flight Family launched this summer across Delta’s network, about 50% of all Delta departures have benefitted. In that time, Delta has seen a “65 percent jump in its ability to depart on time when a team has less than the minimum allotted time to push out a flight.” In other words, if IROPS or weather throws a wrench in things and delays an aircraft arrival, this system has enabled Delta to recover and get that aircraft back on schedule for the remainder of the day. Collectively, across its entire system, that kind of improvement can lead to big upticks in on-time performance.
On an average day, approximately 11,000 messages are sent using the platform. During days when the operation is impacted heavily by weather, for example, usage has jumped to more than 14,000.
The tool joins Delta’s growing technology tool belt, including a revamped Flight Weather Viewer app that’s enabling pilots to better detect and dodge turbulence. For an inside look at what Delta is doing to keep its operations running smoothly, check out our behind-the-scenes tour of the carrier’s Atlanta-based TechOps facility.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards