Air travel: A better experience through technology

I have travelled a lot on airplanes and in the last decade, it became an horrible experience, one that I was dreading everytime. Lines at check-in, security, custom and immigration, packed airplanes, no legroom, runway delays, no food… you get the idea.

So much that I would prefer to drive whenever I can reach a destination in a day! For various reasons, I have maneged to avoid flying for a year. The last time I flew was at NAB 2014 and I just did today to come to NAB 2015. Not only that but because I didn’t fly, I lost my elite status. I was Platinum elite with Delta and United for many years and it’s been 20 years since I last flew non-elite. Suffice to say, I was not looking forward to it at all: Having to pay for checked bags, no priotity check-in or boarding, no premiu seats or free upgrade to first class! I was horrified at the idea. Probably for that reason, I delayed my booking and ended with a three legs itinerary: Montreal-Minneapolis-Salt Lake City-Las Vegas.

As I am writing this, I am at the Palm in Las Vegas waiting for the annual Harmonics press event so, how was it coming here?

Surprisingly smooth and it is really because of organisations getting wiser with technology.

First, the check-in in Montreal. In economy you have just a bag check, you must arrive with your check-in done electronically (on the web or with the Delta app for iPhone) or at one of the self service kiosk. This expedite the lines and those who are unprepared must step out of line and go back to the check-in kiosks.

Then, I usually have a custom form to fill, not anymore, it’s done with a sefl-service kiosk at immigration where most of the info is already filled through electronic data exchange between the airlines and the US border agency. Those who have no issues go to a fast line the other, well, they wait but they don’t make me wait at least! 😉

The plane between Montreal and Minneapolis was a Bombardier Regional Jet with no screen for entertainment but now they have wifi which have a fee to access the Internet while on flight but is free to access select content (on board with a content server). I used the free option to stream the movie “Gravity” to my phone so the fligh passed in no time. Not only that but as long as you put your phone on “airplane mode” you don’t need to turn it off anymore, you can listen to music from gate to gate if you want making long runway delays more bearable.

I had a breakfast at Minneapolis airport at a restaurant in sight of my gate. I could relax and recharge my device with the power and USB outlet at each seat and order the breakfast and pay for it with an iPad (also at each seat). The breakfast and my latte was deliver by nice servers in just over 5 minutes!

Delta now guarantee that our lugguage are delivered at the bag claim carrousel within 20 minutes and my bag was there waiting for me when I reach the area. Not only that but I was able to track my bag while in flight through the Delta iPhone app and the free wifi connection on the plane!

In Vegas I took the shuttle from the airport to the “rental car center” and I was able to do my online check-in with Alamo allowing me to by-pass the counter!

So all smooth and all nice and we have to be grateful that technology is finally getting used more intelligently in the travel industry.

And I need to go to my press evetn now! 

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