Airline unveils CRM tool for travellers

Delta Air Lines has introduced a new feature on its Web site that allows customers to track airport waiting times.

Delta Air Lines has introduced a new feature on its Web site that allows customers to track airport waiting times.

Since 16 November, Delta passengers have been able to use the system at through their itinerary views or in the flight schedule and information sections of the Web site, said Kevin Donovan, Delta's manager of e-commerce. The feature was formally announced on 20 November.

The customer relationship management (CRM) tool tracks estimated peak and off-peak waiting times at kerbside check-in, ticket counters and security checkpoints at some 115 airports in the US and some Caribbean countries.

The slowed economy and security concerns have quashed most IT projects, but this one was conceived and approved after the terrorist attacks on 11 September, because of the need for new airport security procedures. "I think the circumstances that we're facing now create the need for it," Donovan said.

Because of the longer waiting times at airports, passengers needed a way to calculate how much time to allow for longer queues and extra security. That meant the tracking feature at was not only approved, but its implementation was fast-tracked, Donovan said. The project took just six weeks to design, test and launch, he added.

While Donovan was unable to give details on the cost of the project, he said it did not involve buying any new technology - just overtime pay for the airline's IT staff.

Delta's IT unit built forms into the airline's e-mail client, which collects waiting time information. Those forms are then sent to a centralised database and posted to the Web site.

"It's pretty basic. There's nothing too fascinating about the technology here," Donovan said. "We have e-mail access for our [airports]. We created a form in e-mail [to enter the waiting time information]. There was some development to ensure security. We created a separate access point for each airport."

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