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Delta, Northwest Airlines, and Vancouver Airport: The Business Value of Customer

Essay by   •  December 11, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,547 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,813 Views

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Introduction

Delta Airlines, along with many of its major competitors within the airline industry, have been utilizing self-service kiosks as a means to reduce, if not eliminate, the long lines at airport ticket counters. These kiosks offer business and leisure travelers the opportunity to print out a boarding pass, get a baggage ticket, or simply check the status of a flight on their own terms.

To help Delta implement this initiative, Kinetics, USA, was hired to provide the company with self-service kiosks. Kinetics is the world's leading provider of innovative, self-service technology. Trends seem to indicate that airline travelers are more inclined to use a kiosk if they can reduce the time spent getting their boarding pass and making seating arrangements. Airports on average, are reporting that approximately 70% of all airline travelers are incorporating check-in transactions performed through one of the available convenient self-service options.

Kiosks have been shown to shave 5 to15 minutes off of standing in line. This shortened waiting time provides passengers with more time to arrive at the terminal gate, and allows them to get through security checkpoints without the concern of missing a flight.

Vancouver International Airport has expanded the use of self-service kiosks, particularly "common-use" kiosks. The latter refer to kiosks where a passenger can retrieve information from any flight, not just the flight or airline that he or she happens to be on. In that regard, the airport has witnessed a tremendous departure from traditional airline travel norms. This "common-use" system was developed by IBM and Arinc Inc., a Maryland-based company known for its communication and engineering expertise. This technology has lowered operating costs by reducing the need for additional ticket counter employees.

New kiosks have been expanded into surrounding airport parking lots and hotels; which cater specifically to the travelers. Cruise ships will soon be equipped with self-service kiosks.

Question #1

What computer system technologies and functions are included in self-service kiosks?

At just about every airport, chances are that an airline passenger has used self-service technology to print out a boarding pass or check the status of a flight. The hassles of standing in long lines at the airport are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Using self-service kiosks is especially convenient for short-term travelers who do not need to check-in large quantities of luggage. Indeed, with the maximum allowance of two carry-on pieces of luggage, there is less need to use the airport's airline counters.

To accommodate a passenger's need for a more efficient and less stressful travel experience, airline companies have incorporated the use of kiosks to provide just about any travel-related service with just a push of a button or the scan of a credit card. With over 5,600 airline self-service devices in close to 300 airports handling over one billion airline transactions, Kinetics, USA has built its reputation as a worldwide provider of innovative self-service technology. The Delta Airlines technology division purchased the services of Kinetics, USA and its fleet of self-service kiosks, due in large part to Kinetics dominance and expertise in this field.

Kinetics, USA had developed various self-service terminals including the TouchPort II, ResortPort, ScanPort, and the K4200 E-Service Printer. At present, Delta Airlines and many other airline companies are utilizing one, if not all, of these models. The TouchPort II is a modular device that makes swapping out, or servicing issues, extremely simple. The TouchPort II supports a broad range of operating platforms, including Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP. This version is customizable and can be modified to include weather resistant features, multimedia options, passport reading capabilities, and an integrated barcode imager. The TouchPort II can be installed into a podium or tabletop platform or can be mounted on a wall, if so desired. The TouchPort II incorporates cable interconnects and mounting systems that are easily removable and maintenance-friendly. Each unit weighs less than 35 pounds.

The ScanPort incorporates multiple technologies that include a seat entitlement printer, barcode and magnetic reader, as well as an interactive touch screen display. The slim design of the ScanPort allows this kiosk to the integrated into multiple environments without cluttering the esthetic look of an airport. Additional options available on the ScanPort include: bag tag printers, passport readers, biometric functionality, smart cards, and RFID (radio frequency identification). RFID provides the following solutions:

* Improved ability to accurately determine inventory at various stages of production

* Reduced cycle times through automation

* Lowered operational risks

* Improved return on investment

* Enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty

The printer used to generate boarding passes and seating assignments is the K4200-E. A simple snap onto the docking plate, the loading of paper, the connectivity of the data and power cables, and the K4200-E is ready to go. The common theme here is the ease of installation. This device is compatible with all Windows-based print images. Kinetics Peripheral Services (KPS) allows for the integration into outside-based technologies. This allows for sharing and network applications to be shared independently.

What other technologies should be provided?

A standardization of services amongst the various kiosks might be one solution. The services offered by each airline's airport kiosk system vary. At some airports, the game of musical lines still occurs because most airlines set their kiosks on a timer to prevent customers from checking bags without airline supervision. If the kiosks could be synchronized so that airport supervision is not necessary, then more airline passengers would opt for the kiosks.

Although most airlines offer same day check-in and seat selection at kiosks, not all offer the ability to purchase a ticket. Another technological function should be the ability to purchase a ticket for a friend without the unpleasant realization that the kiosk would only sell a ticket for the person named on the credit card used for payment. This could alleviate further delays and possibly missing a flight.

In addition, kiosk users should have the ability

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