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Delta Wants to Change How You Buy Tickets

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 2/8/2018 Mia Taylor

Delta Air Lines Boeing 777: Delta�s Global Distribution & Digital Strategy team is working on making ticket shopping a world-class experience.(photo via Flickr/Masakatsu Ukon) © Flickr Delta�s Global Distribution & Digital Strategy team is working on making ticket shopping a world-class experience.(photo via Flickr/Masakatsu Ukon) Remember the old days when there were three general choices in airline seats – coach, business and first class?

As most travelers have come to realize, those days are long gone.

Premium economy seat offerings made the first dent in that traditional seating structure on many airlines, and more recently budget economy seats have added yet another option to the mix.

On Delta Airlines, a leader in this industry transition, the changes have been playing out for quite some time. After the introduction of premium economy seat offerings, which were originally called Economy Comfort, the airline introduced what’s known as its branded fares program in 2012. Branded fares allow customers who value price, over all else, to simply select seats based on the lowest-fare option.

Even more recently, Delta aircraft were divided into several seating areas including Delta One and Delta Premium Select, which are designed to fit customers' preferences and price points. Now Delta’s Global Distribution & Digital Strategy team is seeking to change things up even more.

In a Q&A posted on the Delta website, the company says it wants to provide fliers with a shopping experience that has the feel of browsing a popular online retailer’s site, as opposed to a staid ticket purchase transaction.

Delta’s Global Distribution & Digital Strategy team is charged with evolving the Delta ticket shopping experience. Rhonda Crawford, Vice President of Global Distribution & Digital Strategy said her team is focused on two key areas: channel or choice.

What does that mean exactly?

Without getting too deep into industry jargon, the airline is seeking to make Delta's direct ticket sales channels an optimal, world-class experience for customers.

“Just like any good retailer, we want customers to see all of their options like they do when shopping online for a sweater,” said Crawford in the online Q&A. “Think about it: when you're searching for a sweater, you don't want to only see the cheapest version. You want to see options — size, color, cut, style, etc. Price is certainly a factor many people weigh, but it's not the only factor by a long shot.”

To that end, the redesigned ticket purchase process on Delta.com includes columns rich with information about each of the seat products and fares.

“We know that customers shopping for airline tickets consider a number of variables when deciding on their purchase, but most external channels that display Delta and other airline content skew toward sorting by the cheapest fareeven if that fare doesn't deliver the best experience by way of schedule or amenities that are available and important to the customer,” added Crawford.

One of the goals of the improved Delta ticket shopping experience is better transparency in search results, said Crawford.

Ticket search results in a more transparent system will aim to take the friction out of travel rather than simply defaulting to or prioritizing cheaper but less desirable routings.

“Sure, a flight with a connection may be cheaper, but we don't want to prioritize that option for all customers if it means the connection requires that you have to switch terminals. Or maybe a family that is traveling together really wants to sit together,” Crawford said. “We want to set our customers up for a successful flight experience.”

It will likely take some time for third-party ticket sellers to include all of the new information Delta will be providing. Such sellers will need to invest in their own display capabilities to show the information being shared in a way that reflects all of the choices being offered.

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