Delta Air Lines made a couple of announcements during CEO Ed Bastian’s keynote speech Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The first was that many Delta flights in the United States would feature “free, fast” inflight WiFi (a SkyMiles membership is required).
The second is something called “Delta Sync” — an interactive feature that sort of personalizes passengers’ trips and gives them access to more inflight entertainment and other opportunities. Delta Sync rolls out sometime this summer and gradually expands across the fleet.
Mr. Bastian said this will be “an umbrella brand — a collection of digital services, and engagement opportunities and experiences for customers once they come on the free WiFi portal.”
When “people fly they want to learn, they want to experience,” he said.
TPG’s Zach Griff explains, “At the outset, Delta Sync will include two main components: Delta Sync Exclusives Hub and Delta Sync on Demand. The former will be available through the deltawifi.com internet portal and include personalized content, offers, and entertainment options.”
We don’t yet know a whole lot about Delta Sync — but Mr. Bastian and Delta provided a few details. So, let’s go check out some of Delta Sync’s features and see what we think.
Mr. Bastian said Delta is replacing some seatback inflight entertainment screens with updated smart screens. I assume the resolutions will be improvements over at least some of the screens currently on Delta planes (especially the older aircraft that haven’t been retrofitted).
Upon using the screen to log into their SkyMiles account, a passenger’s trip IFE experience will somehow be personalized. I assume features like “Welcome, (your name here)!” or something similar.
I appreciate that passengers must use SkyMiles accounts to log in. It’d be a little creepy if passengers’ information were loaded before boarding. Seat swaps would be a nightmare.
Sounds fine. What do you think?
Food and Beverage Ordering
I remember flying Virgin America (RIP) in, like, 2009 or 2010 — and ordering drinks and snacks from my seatback screen.
Delta Sync (re?)introduces that feature. However, it’s limited to just First Class. (And I assume Delta One.) Will it expand to other cabins? I don’t know.
Maybe First Class is the guinea pig for this feature. What strikes me as a bit odd, though, is that First Class and Delta One have at least one dedicated flight attendant for the cabin. These FAs (usually) roam the aisles a few times each hour and offer drink refills or more snacks.
Perhaps this gives premium cabin flight attendants more time to help out in back?
But here’s something else this probably does: provides Delta with pretty concrete data about your drinking and snacking habits. (“Dear Delta Statisticians: Chris Carley in 5B ordered three of those Tip-Top Old Fashioneds he loves and won’t shut up about. And he’s inhaling Dolcetto Cubetti wafers like they’re going out of style.”)
This makes me wonder if the screens will limit how much alcohol people order. Like, for those people who knock back eight Woodfords or drink the equivalent of a magnum of champagne right now (I’m not judging!), I’m curious if the screen will flash a message after, perhaps, drink number three and essentially say, “You’re cut off. Drink some water. But use this time to sign up for a Delta SkyMiles® American Express card!”
”Free” Paramount+ Streaming
The Delta Sync suite includes Paramount+. That drew all sorts of excitement during yesterday’s presentation.
Kick back and relax with complimentary access to breaking news, live sports and a mountain of entertainment from our exclusive in-flight streaming partner, Paramount+. Delta SkyMiles Members will be able to enjoy the full collection including critically acclaimed original series such as Tulsa King and 1923, blockbuster movies such as Top Gun: Maverick and Smile, family favorites such as PAW Patrol and Clifford the Big Red Dog and so much more on a personal device after connecting to in-flight Wi-Fi on flights originating in the US.
So, this apparently won’t be part of the seatback entertainment. Don’t forget your tablet or laptop! (And earphones! We don’t need to hear you watch Yellowstone or Rug Ratsat full volume.)
But here’s why I wrote, “Free.”
SkyMiles members in the US who do not have an existing Paramount+ subscription or trial will be eligible for a free trial of Paramount+ Premium from the start of their flight originating in the US for up to 24 hours. SkyMiles members in the US may be eligible to earn miles with Delta when they subscribe to a new paid P+ account. Additional terms and conditions apply.
I don’t know how many free Paramount+ trial subscriptions a SkyMiles member may receive during a given time frame longer than 24 hours. Will it be once ever? Once a week? A month? A year? Or a trial subscription every time you fly Delta? I’m interested in learning more.
Delta Sync will incorporate restaurant reservation booking platform Resy, which “curated dining guides specially for Delta SkyMiles Members. Members can access destination-based dining guides in flight, book sought-after tables, and learn about the restaurants waiting for them when they land…Resy destination guides available only to Delta SkyMiles Members using free Wi-Fi on select routes.”
My wife and I try as much as possible to avoid national chain restaurants whenever we travel. Sometimes, that’s impossible — depending on what’s open and when. But we love discovering local restaurants and bars. So, Resy giving us suggestions during our flight may very well be a great resource.
(Am I the only person not using Resy? It sounds interesting. Maybe I need to get out more.)
If a SkyMiles membership gets you priority scoring a restaurant table reservation, then I think we must agree that’s pretty cool. (I assume the restaurant will know to have my Old Fashioned and Dolcetto Cubetti wafers waiting for me when I show up.)
New York Times Games
SkyMiles members can game their hearts away with “delightfully challenging word, number and logic puzzles… Throughout 2023, play Wordle, Spelling Bee, The Crossword and more while you’re in the air.”
That sounds kind of fun. These games are more up my alley than, say, the shoot-‘em-up stuff I see (and hear) some people play on flights.
I’m usually busy working or getting caught up on some reading during flights, so I don’t know how often I’ll take advantage of these. But it could be a good excuse to kick back and enjoy some fun.
Also part of Delta Sync is Atlas Obscura, “the definitive guide to the world’s most extraordinary places. Members will have access to a curated collection of travel recommendations from Atlas Obscura, including destination specific content coming later this spring, only on Delta.”
This doesn’t really move the needle for me. But maybe that’ll change once I see it in action.
Odds and Ends
Delta seems to be putting more time and resources into its facial recognition boarding process. I’ve seen it in action once — and it slowed everything down more than anything. But when it works well, it’s supposed to be pretty amazing. I hope we’ll see more of that.
Delta Sync is a sort of interactive, personalized travel experience that debuts this summer. It features entertainment, information, and more. Plus, First Class passengers can order drinks and snacks to their seats.
What do you think about Delta Sync so far? Please share your thoughts below in the Comments section!
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