February 27 2024  |  Inflight Entertainment

APEX TECH: Deep dive on Delta Sync

By Jane Hobson

This is a special feature from PAX Tech's February/March 2024 issue, on page 22.

Passengers connect to Wi-Fi via a personal mobile device

Delta’s connectivity and consistency in providing the latest IFE to passengers is part of how it has maintained strong brand loyalty through the decades. PAX Tech spoke with Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Managing Director of Customer Experience Delta Studio & Wi-Fi, about Delta Sync’s pivotal features, the impact on the passenger experience and the unique benefits available to Delta SkyMiles members. From the airline’s first passenger flight in 1929, Dimbiloglu tells PAX Tech that the airline has taken pride in elevating the passenger experience.

“We’ve always understood that the journey is about more than just reaching a destination – it’s about the moments and experiences that unfold along the way,” Dimbiloglu says. “From the early days of playing cards and reading the daily newspaper to today’s new era of fast, free Wi-Fi-enabled entertainment curated for you, Delta has been at the forefront of shaping how travelers connect, unwind and discover while in the skies.”

Delta’s continued innovation in the IFEC space has brought about Delta Sync and its ability to keep passengers connected to the world below while onboard.

A deeper look at Delta Sync’s features
Delta Sync’s features include complimentary Wi-Fi and a revamped seatback entertainment system, giving passengers an inflight digital experience akin to what they would have at home. Delta Sync Wi-Fi, available today on most domestic aircraft and rolling out soon on regional and international routes, delivers streaming-quality connectivity inflight and is available on personal devices through the Delta Sync Wi-Fi login page.

Delta Sync seatback is an update to the traditional inflight screens that makes them function like a smart TV. This is accomplished with features like those on streaming services that passengers use in their homes, such as the system remembering where you stopped watching the movie and the capacity to save a “favourites” list. Delta Sync seatback is now available on select fleets and is expanding to additional aircraft this year.

“These new onboard experiences make your seat in the sky feel more like a seat in your living room, giving you new ways to enjoy travel with connectivity and personalized entertainment that is fit for you,” says Dimbiloglu.

He also points out that passengers are frequently using multiple devices inflight, just like they do from the comfort of their homes.

“We recognized early in our free Wi-Fi journey the need to meet and exceed these evolving expectations.”

Changing the game of customer loyalty
Delta Sync is an inflight benefit exclusively available to SkyMiles members, but the perks are not ones that have to be earned over time. With a focus on customer loyalty and delivering immediate benefits, Delta Sync is taking a different approach to traditional airline points and miles programs.

“Traditionally, loyalty programs have been built on the idea of longer-term benefits,” Dimbiloglu explains. “Delta’s shift away from this approach to one of immediate value reflects our commitment to staying ahead in a dynamic industry.”

Delta Sync uses SkyMiles member information to personalize their inflight entertainment. Since launching its free inflight Wi-Fi in February 2023, Dimbiloglu says that more than 1.8 million customers have joined Delta SkyMiles through Delta Sync Wi-Fi. This means they get access to exclusive offers and entertainment from brands like Paramount+, Walmart+ and T-Mobile inflight without years of building up their rewards earnings.

“As customers deepen their relationships with Delta through these logged-in member experiences, we can serve them in new, in-the-moment ways,” he adds.

In the spirit of bringing the at-home digital experience to the aircraft cabin, Delta has prioritized allowing passengers to enjoy multiple screens inflight, such as watching seatback content while scrolling social media on their phones. Dimbiloglu notes that while there was uncertainty about how the diversification of inflight options would impact IFE engagement, the results have been favourable.

“We’ve been really encouraged by the enthusiasm around the product, and something else we’ve been excited to see is that Delta Sync Wi-Fi now ranks among the top three drivers of customer satisfaction on Delta—so much that it improves the entire onboard experience as a result,” he says.

Beyond inflight connectivity
“Ensuring that the connection is fast and reliable, even when customers move about the aircraft, is a remarkable feat of precision,” Dimbiloglu says. But the introduction of Wi-Fi to the aircraft is “just the beginning.”

Once passengers have access to streaming-quality Wi-Fi during the flight, the airline is using Delta Sync to deliver more value to SkyMiles members.

“This has taken a separate expert team to roll out the entirely new platform onboard. It’s truly been a labor of love across many expert teams at Delta, all in service of the customer,” Dimbiloglu tells PAX Tech.

Delta expects to roll out more Delta Sync products in the coming years. Dimbiloglu will be speaking about Delta Sync at APEX TECH in Los Angeles on February 28, delivering the Opening Keynote Address “Delta Sync: A Leap Forward in In-Flight Connectivity,” in discussion with APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader.

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