Skip to main content

Nothing artificial about this intelligence: Delta’s industry-first machine learning platform minimizes customer inconvenience during tough operations

Delta CES 2020
  • Delta is applying AI-driven machine learning to decision science on a scale that’s never been done before by an airline, to supplement industry’s best operational decision makers.
  • Proprietary environment uses Delta’s historical data to nimbly simulate operating challenges and provide likely outcomes to lessen customer impact.
  • Innovative architecture will make the platform sharper and better for Delta teams as more data is entered and outcomes are generated.

Delta Air Lines is creating a full-scale digital simulation environment for its global operation – a first in commercial passenger aviation – to bring its already renowned reliability to the next level, particularly during bad weather and other challenging travel events.

“Our customers expect us to get them to their destinations safely and on time, in good weather and bad,” said Erik Snell, Delta’s Senior Vice President - Operations & Customer Center (OCC). “That’s why we’re adding a machine learning platform to our array of behind-the-scenes tools so that the more than 80,000 people of Delta can even more quickly and effectively solve problems even in the most challenging situations.”

Delta CES 2020

The proprietary AI-driven platform analyzes millions of operational data points - from aircraft positions to flight crew restrictions to airport conditions - to create hypothetical outcomes that help Delta’s professionals make critical decisions before, during and after large-scale disruptions, like severe winter weather or a volcanic eruption. It’s also a post-mortem tool that can be used to identify how better decisions could have been deployed in a given situation. “As more real data is integrated, the innovative platform architecture applies machine learning to arm decision makers with the best range of options to ensure safe, reliable travel.”

Delta will launch its initial live implementation this spring. The tool is expected to continually become more effective over time, as more data is collected and integrated.

“We already work closely with other Delta teams to provide proactive notifications to customers when their plans may be disrupted,” Snell added. “As the Fly Delta app transforms into a day-of-travel digital concierge, we expect our quicker game-time decisions to play an even greater role in providing a more stress-free travel experience for our customers.”

At CES and want to see what Delta’s OCC is all about? Attendees can experience the power of Delta’s operational machine learning platform in Delta’s booth (#14035) in Central Hall. While there, visitors can try their hand at managing global airline operations through an interactive demo with some of Delta’s lead decision science engineers.

Delta’s OCC: Behind the scenes but always in front of customers

Delta’s OCC replaced the word “Control” with “Customer” in its name in 2015 because of the team’s focus around the clock on providing a seamless customer experience. Every day this specialized workforce collaborates to balance the planned schedule with disruptions to minimize the impact of delays and cancellations on Delta customers. It does this by ensuring any number of variables – from aircraft placement and crew restrictions, to geo-political constraints and weather that can have a cumulative impact on making it difficult to get back to normal operations – are being considered and planned for to achieve the best experience for customers.

More than 700 employees oversee every facet of Delta’s daily operation, encompassing more than 5,500 Delta and Delta Connection flights on our busiest days of the year – many of which occur during peak travel summer months. In 2019 through November, Delta had an industry-best U.S. DOT completion factor of 99.8 percent including the lowest rate of aircraft maintenance-related cancels in its history.

About Delta

Delta is the U.S. global airline leader in products, services, innovation, reliability and customer experience. Powered by its 80,000 people around the world, the airline serves nearly 200 million people every year on more than 5,000 daily departures across its industry-leading global network to more than 300 destinations in over 50 countries. Over the past several years, Delta has led the airline industry in transforming the customer experience by introducing the first end-to-end biometric terminal in the US at Atlanta‘s international airport, real-time RFID bag tracking and automatic check-in via the Fly Delta mobile app, an alliance that will empower customers with seamless in-cabin connectivity experience, more efficient and high-tech automated screening lanes, and a groundbreaking app that helps Delta pilots avoid turbulence for a more comfortable flight. The global airline is also empowering its employees – Delta’s greatest competitive advantage – by arming them with handheld platforms that allow for more personalized service delivery and more meaningful interactions – not just transactions – with customers. All of this has resulted in Delta being named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies Worldwide two consecutive years, and Fortune’s Most Admired Airline for eight of the past nine years.

Related Topics:
DELTA NEWS ON THE GO. Subscribe and follow.