Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian became the first airline to keynote CES2020 in Las Vegas yesterday and his message did not disappoint. Laying out a compelling vision for the future of travel, Bastian demonstrated how technology in the hands of a purpose-driven, consumer-focused company can redefine consumer expectations.

“We see technology as a tool to further our mission of connecting people and creating opportunities,” he said. “We’re not chasing shiny objects or tech for the sake of being cool. We are dedicated to solving your travel problems and making your voyages – and your lives – easier.”

Bastian described how the Fly Delta app will evolve into customers’ digital travel concierge, making travel more relaxing and less stressful by anticipating customer needs, offering convenient services to take the stress out of the day of travel like a ride to the airport and delivering thoughtful notifications, all from within the app to keep customers moving seamlessly on their journey. John Zimmer, Lyft Co-Founder, came to the stage briefly to discuss how Delta and Lyft are already working together and announce plans for deepening the industry-leading partnership. Those plans include being able to book a Lyft ride from inside the Delta app and pay for that ride with Delta SkyMiles.

A Parallel Universe

After riding Lyft to the airport, flyers using the Delta app will be in for some compelling new ways to navigate the airport according to Nicole Jones, Delta’s Director of Innovation, and Misapplied Sciences CEO Albert Ng who joined Bastian to describe some things even the audience full of CES geeks and inventors were not expecting.


After, flying through security with the seconds it takes to be biometrically scanned, customers will be able to look at a Delta flight status screen in the airport along with the flurry of other travelers surrounding them and see only a single screen meant for them with content tailored to their individual travel plans. Thus, the passenger will see the gate number, directions to that gate and will even get an alert when it is their time in line to board. The concept is in beta but will be tried out at Detroit Metropolitan Airport this summer.


“The future is multi-modal,” said Bastian. And that also includes the inflight experience, which Bastian says will begin even before the passenger arrives at the airport. Through the app, passengers will be able to start watching their movie choices enroute in the Lyft and then pick up where they left off in the air via their personal device or seatback screen in wireless comfort.

Seamless Travel

And the seamless journey continues with options for the in-app booking of services, such as having someone pick up bags from home and deliver to hotel on arrival (and back again), bypassing bag checking lines, carousels and the hassles of lugging luggage.

For an old airline, Delta has a young fleet. It has replaced a third of its aircraft inventory over the past five years, with new Neos and the A220, which Bastion describes as a narrow body that feels like a wide body. The airline recently introduced Delta One, a super luxury first class seat that turns into a suite with sliding doors for privacy.

In replacing older, less efficient aircraft, Delta is investing in renewable and natural environment solutions, including verified projects to offset the carbon footprint associated with airline travel.

Finally, Bastion announced that Wi-Fi on Delta flights would be complimentary.

“Where else do you have to pay for Wi-Fi these days? Wi-Fi should be free. The opportunities to better connect people across the world are truly endless,” he added. “Technology will help us do it even better.”