Delta, Northwest Airlines, and Vancouver Airport: the Business Value of Customer Self-Service Kiosks

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For travelers, the best trips are fast and hassle-free, with limited time spent at the airport. That’s why Atlanta- based Delta Air Lines Inc. ( teamed up with its technology subsidiary, Delta Technology Inc., to deploy hundreds of self-service check-in kiosks at airports across the country, with a goal of speeding travelers to their destinations. Mike Childress, senior vice president of development at Delta Technology and the project’s leader, says there are now 449 kiosks installed at airports in 81 U.S. cities. The kiosks had been part of Delta’s multiyear business plan, but when airports increased security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks—and the amount of time customers spent waiting in line grew longer—the airline decided to accelerate the project. Delta acknowledges that it had been trailing some other carriers’ kiosk initiatives before September 11. For example, Northwest Airlines ( had embraced self-service airport kiosks in a big way before Delta. Northwest had over 650 e-Service Center check-in kiosks in over 150 airports, more than any other airline, and added over 100 more kiosks at the end of 2003. In fact, more of Northwest’s customers are using self-service check-ins by checking in online on the Web at, or through one of their e-Service Center check-in kiosks, than through traditional check-in methods. Thus, more than half of eligible customers now choose one of Northwest’s self-service check-in options, a record high. At the carrier’s Detroit World Gateway and Minneapolis/St. Paul airport hubs, usage has averaged 70 percent. Systemwide usage has continued to soar through the end of 2004. “On May 1, 2004 our Minneapolis/St. Paul hub achieved a record 74 percent of check-in transactions performed through one of our convenient self-service check-in options,” said Al Lenza, vice president of e-commerce and distribution. “With the rapid growth we are experiencing, by the end of the year we expect that...
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