Remember the good old days when you got free food on an airplane? Free blankets, free movies, and even free checked luggage? No more my friends. And now it looks like we will be losing one more free onboard perk, thanks in part to the efficiency of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP software. I am talking about “the good seat shuffle”. You crane your neck to watch for the last person to walk down the aisle and sit down. You hear the airplane door click shut then you quickly jump up and slip into a better seat that has been left empty, the one with more legroom (or maybe just the one away from the cranky toddler). It was first come first served, the fastest one gets it. And once you clicked the seatbelt, it was yours. Such a feeling of accomplishment!
In the last few years, airlines have started offering passengers the option to pay a little extra, at booking and again at check in, to book these better seats. But these were a perishable item for the airlines. Once the passengers were all checked in, these seats could no longer generate extra revenue.
But now, Delta has figured out a way to make you pay for those seat upgrades, even if you are cruising at 30,000 feet.
Windows 8 Smartphones
Delta airlines flight attendants now carry Windows 8 Smartphones which act as retail POS devices using Microsoft Dynamics AX in the background. This means the flight attendants can “sell” anytime between takeoff and landing. You can not only be charged for food and drinks. But if you want to upgrade to that spacious exit row seat during the flight, get out your credit card.
Preventing Free Snacks
Speaking of using your credit card…did you know that before Delta got these fancy new Smartphones, their old devices could not validate credit cards in the air? This means you could have “paid” with a bogus card, gotten your snack box, and Delta would not have figured it out till you were long gone. I wonder how many passengers got away with that. Needless to say, the new mobile devices will help Delta prevent quite a bit of loss with real time credit card validation.
When Will This Start?
Delta has already started implementing the onboard upgrade seat fees on select domestic routes. This is meant to help them work out any logistical kinks. For example, what happens if a passenger pays for a seat up in the front but his carry on suitcase is already packed in an overhead in the back? Delta needs to work out how to accommodate these seat changes without causing chaos and delaying takeoff. (Before, when you scored this seat for free, you didn’t have the right to complain that your bag was far away.)
But the plan is to start charging for seat upgrades on all Delta flights. This might not mean much extra revenue for the company on domestic routes (where upgrades can be as low as $9). But on long international flights, when extra legroom becomes more a necessity than a luxury, Delta will be able to collect some serious cash that has up until now been an unclaimed revenue source.
What Can They Charge For Next?
What will they think of next? In a press interview at Microsoft Convergence 2014, Darrell Haskin, Director of IT for Delta mused, “what if we could offer passengers on flights to New York City the option to buy their Broadway show tickets on board the Delta flight?”
Kudos to Delta for finding ways to make their company more productive and maximize revenue, especially since Microsoft Dynamics helped them do it. But I admit I feel it is a sad day for passengers who will never again feel the thrill of nabbing “the good seat” for free.
By ERP Software Blog Editors, www.erpsoftwareblog.com