Delta partners with Uber-inspired package delivery platform Roadie to deliver delayed luggage to passengers

Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers with its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service. Delta passengers on domestic flights can track their checked bag(s) in real-time via the Delta app, even when up in the air.

Plus, Delta’s ‘Bags On Time’ guarantee means that passengers on domestic routes will have their checked luggage at the bag caroussel within 20 minutes, or receive 2500 SkyMiles when this takes longer.

Delta in 2016 also invested USD 50 million in RFID technology to further expand is bag tracking service to international stations. RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide, which has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.

With sharing real-time bag tracking with passengers still being a novelty in the industry, Delta has further innovated its baggage service to include delayed luggage.

Delayed baggage claim via Delta app
Earlier this year, Delta expanded its Fly Delta app functionality to allow passengers to skip the bag service office visit when luggage is missing.

The mobile bag service feature allows passengers to file a bag claim at their final destination through the Fly Delta app, instead of having to visit the local Delta baggage service office, when Delta sees the bag has missed a checkpoint. The airline proactively notifies passengers if their bag will be delayed, and provides a link to complete a delayed bag file with the app.

“This is one more way we’re putting the power for a customer to control their experience in the palm of their hand,” commented Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, Gil West. “The last thing a customer wants to do when their bag is delayed is to go in person to do something that can be done with a few taps on their phone, knowing that we’ll deliver their bag directly to them when it arrives.”

Delta x Roadie for delayed baggage delivery
In 2015, Delta began partnering with Atlanta-based Roadie, a door-to-door delivery platform that connects people who want parcels delivered with people who are already driving in that direction. Roadie is about crowdsourcing package delivery by tapping into unused space in passenger vehicles already on the road, and is another example of the ‘on demand economy’ that includes the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, and others.

Roadie currently has more than 90,000 drivers on its platform, and is backed by investors like Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund and even rapper Ludacris, to name a few. Drivers can get paid USD 8 to USD 50 for deliveries, according to Roadie.

Delta and Roadie have been working together for three years, but announced the partnership in greater detail recently, as Delta expanded its use of the service from 12 cities in 2016 to more than 50 in its domestic network.

The carrier’s move away from traditional baggage delivery vendors has worked. “The response from customers and employees has been overwhelmingly positive,” Delta COO Gil West said. “We knew we were on to something when we saw delivery times drop by around 65 percent compared to traditional delivery services, and baggage service customer satisfaction scores jump dramatically.”

In addition to faster deliveries, customers in areas where Delta and Roadie partner receive real-time status updates and the ability to track their bag once it leaves the airport.

Delta x start-ups
“At best, any delayed bag is a hassle for a customer,” says Delta’s Gil West. “We get that, so we’ve made investments and developed some out-of-the-box partnerships to take some of the stress out of that hassle by making the process of getting that bag easier. Working with a startup like Roadie gives Delta the flexibility to try new and creative ways to solve customer pain points,” he said. “We get to think big, start small and learn fast, as new technologies and processes emerge and actually solve for a real need.”

Jon Litzenberger, Delta’s director of airport customer service told Travel Weekly: “Thanks to the technology with the Delta app and our customer-facing technology, the customer is also able to track in real time the status of their bag. Maybe the traditional way of delivering bags is kind of like the cable guy: I’ll be there between 12 and 4. With Roadie they can give you a 15-minute window of when that bag is going to be delivered.” (full interview here).

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