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Delta Air Lines steps up mobile initiatives with app efforts

Delta Air Lines has revamped its iPhone and iPad applications with device-specific features that are aimed at elevating the traveling experience.

The apps are designed for different parts of the travel experience ? the iPad version is positioned as an in-flight hub of content and the iPhone to help with travel prep. The app revamps are part of a bigger digital push from Delta that also includes new Web features and self-help kiosk updates.

?The key point is that Delta customers come to us in a variety of ways,? said Paul Skrbec, spokesman for Delta Air Lines, Atlanta.

?They come at us from different perspectives and they are all interconnected,? he said. ?It does not matter if you book on a Web site and the find out more about the destination using the iPad ? it is all integrated.?

?Each device has things that it is really good at doing, so we have taken those things and looked at how to leverage them into the travel experience.?

Mobile wings
The Fly Delta iPad app is meant to serve as an interactive tool for in-flight travelers and can be synced with a user?s Facebook or Twitter account.

One of the app?s features lets users learn more about areas that they are flying over via online content, social networks and maps. The app runs on the Wi-Fi networks that are available on more than 800 Delta planes.

The entertainment section of the app pulls in popular movies, books and music recommendations. From there, users can tap on links to download them from iTunes.

Additionally, a digital version of Delta?s in-flight magazine can be downloaded and read.

The app also incorporates weekly deals and lets consumers use their fingers to spin a globe to find new destinations.

Consumers can also log-into their accounts to receive alerts about upcoming trips and check-in for flights. Delta?s SkyMiles loyalty members can also manage their accounts via the app.

The new iPad app is a great example of how airlines need to be viewing more than just bookings and account management to take their mobile initiatives to the next level. In particular, in-flight Wi-Fi is a feature that gives brands a chance to incorporate interactive features into apps.

Smart bookings
Delta has also updated its Fly Delta iPhone app to integrate with Apple?s Passbook.

Consumers can now add their boarding pass to Passbook, which can be scanned at the airport?s gate. According to Mr. Skrbec, the mobile boarding pass is the No. 1 function of the smartphone app.

Content has also been optimized for the longer iPhone 5 screen size and lets users search, compare and book flights.

Delta plans to update the Android app later this year.

?Certainly we have seen dramatic increases in mobile tools, and as is common with any development, it will grow as it gets larger,? Mr. Skrbec said.

?Whether it?s a tablet or a smartphone, it will continue to grow and be a focus for us,? he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York