Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared with the tech community Tuesday how digital is transforming the future of air travel during a conversation with Recode's Kara Swisher and Jason Del Rey at the annual, invite-only Code Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Watch the full conversation from the global gathering of the top names in business.
Among the biggest digital enhancements expected, Bastian highlighted Delta's drive to put technologies in the hands of its people, enabling them to run an even better operation.
"The big thing you'll see us do is bring technologies – not just in the hands of our customers, but in the hands of our employees, so that our flight attendants, gate agents, reservation agents, and maintenance can interact more efficiently with each other and with customers. Digital changes the game entirely," Bastian said.
One example of Delta's digital-forward approach is the U.S.'s first biometric terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Customers traveling internationally have the option to utilize facial recognition technology to make their travel journey a seamless experience from curb to gate.
While Swisher and Del Rey asked questions related to privacy when it comes to facial recognition, Bastian crystallized safety and security as paramount in everything Delta does, in the air and on the ground – while also explaining the benefit of this option to customers.
"As we continue to expand our technology and let our consumers know more about us so we can know more about them, and be able to engage in a deeper relationship, we have to maintain the same level of trust and care that we have with putting you in the sky as compared to protecting your private identity and data."
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Bastian noted biometrics isn't the only enhancement consumers can expect to make their travel experience more enjoyable. Another key focus is reimagining the airports of the future to include more real estate near the gates and an improved boarding process, allowing employees to better assist customers and build relationships.
The trio's conversation at the world's premier tech conference concluded with an audience Q&A on the topic of company culture.
"The only thing we have that our competitors don't have is our people," Bastian shared. "We have all the same equipment, we all fly the same places, we all pay the same amount for jet fuel; it's the culture and values of the company that makes the big difference – personally, that's my number one job, taking care of our people."
For a behind-the-scenes look at what else Bastian experienced while visiting #CodeCon, follow him on Instagram.
Photo Credit: Asa Mathat for Vox Media