delta ceo

Delta CEO Ed Bastian kicked off CES 2020 with a keynote address sharing his vision of travel by 2025.

Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian kicked off the first day of exhibitions at CES 2020 with a keynote presentation covering a slew of tech-backed passenger experience announcements. “We are not in the business of chasing shiny new objects or technology for the sake of being cool,” Bastian said. “At Delta, our focus is on applied innovation.”

What follows is a round-up of the highlights from this morning’s session, and Delta’s vision for what travel will look like in 2025.

  1. The Fly Delta App Reborn as a Digital Travel Concierge

The already-popular Fly Delta app will be transformed into a digital concierge that acts as a “home base” for managing day-of-travel needs. “Wouldn’t it be awesome to have one of our famed Delta red coats always at your side solving travel problems for you?” Bastian asked. “The next best thing is the Fly Delta app.”

Fly Delta already allows for in-app bag-tracking, but Bastian presents a vision in which the app is used to choose seats with augmented reality, receive customized notifications from Delta’s team of meteorologists, facilitate baggage delivery from home to hotel, and be integrated with many of the other technologies listed below.

In the nearer future – i.e. later this month – virtual queuing will debut on the Fly Delta app, notifying travelers when their seat, not just their flight, is boarding.

  1. An Expanded Partnership With Lyft

One of the most notable steps in the Fly Delta overhaul is the deepening of ties with Lyft to link users’ airline and ride-hailing accounts, making it easier for customers to earn miles for Lyft rides. Other features in the pipeline include estimated arrival times based on flight delay, traffic and weather data and the possibility of paying for and upgrading rides with Delta Sky Miles.

“As we think to the future of travel, it’s clearly going to be multimodal, and that’s what’s at the foundation of this partnership,” Bastian said, joined on stage by John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft, who said the company is also expanding into bikes, car rentals, self-driving vehicles and public transit. “It’s really exciting to think about how our partnership with Delta can deliver on making travel a much more enjoyable experience,” he said. And this week, Delta and Lyft are offering double miles for all Las Vegas airport rides, as well as double miles for all rides to and from CES.

  1. The Beginning of a Parallel Reality

Delta will launch the first-ever “parallel reality” experience at Detroit Metropolitan Airport this year, allowing multiple customers to simultaneously see personalized travel and wayfinding information tailored to their unique journey on a single digital screen and in their language of choice.

Related: Delta to Bring Parallel Reality Personalized Signage to DTW

  1. A Dedicated IFE Channel Promoting Gender Parity in Entertainment

Delta plans to become the first airline with a dedicated channel spotlighting films and TV shows with the ReFrame Stamp standard, a mark of distinction for features that include female-identifying people in four of eight key areas of production: writer, director, producer, lead, co-lead, speaking parts, department heads and crew. “We have 600,000 customers traveling on Delta every single day, so the exposure for ReFrame will be massive,” Bastian said.

One film that carries the ReFrame stamp and has received significant in-flight exposure is The Farewell, whose writer and director Lulu Wang spoke during the event. “It’s a really important time for women everywhere, particularly in the entertainment industry,” she said. “I really appreciate what Delta is doing to bring more diverse content to those around the world.”


Writer and director of The Farewell Lulu Wang in conversation with Delta CEO Ed Bastian at CES 2020.

With new innovations coming out of its in-house startup Delta Flight Products, such as a just-announced “binge button” allowing passengers to watch entire seasons of shows uninterrupted, Bastian assures the IFE experience will only get better.

  1. And Lots, Lots More

Also announced during the keynote: an AI-driven machine-learning platform to ensure smooth operations during extreme weather conditions and other disruptions; plans to test Sarcos’ exoskeleton heavy-lifting technology in a pilot location in the first quarter of 2020, and a series of sustainability initiatives, including efforts to reverse the effects of deforestation in Kenya and Uganda, making all Delta flights to and from CES 2020 carbon neutral and offsetting all air travel associated with Global Citizen’s Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream campaign. “There’s no substitute for the power that travel has to change lives and make our world a better place,” Bastian said.