This afternoon at CntrStg Shane and I got an inside peek American Airlines and how they are using technology to move forward in their highly competitive business. We talked about a number of different hurdles they are looking to surpass and I believe that one of the major ones is power for accessories on flights.
The majority of the aircraft that American Airlines operate are currently equipped with power for the passengers to take advantage of. However it is only available on specific rows of seats due to the amount of time it takes to retrofit the aircraft with the power capabilities.
American Airlines have also worked with the TSA on electronic boarding passes. These boarding passes will show a barcode on the screen that will be scan able by TSA as well as the airport agents. Originally they were using handheld scanners but had problems scanning the device. They have now moved to a flat "table like" scanner.
Another topic that came up during our discussion was tracking baggage. One of the CntrStg members brought up the fact that her baggage has been lost for six long days on her ten day trip to Vegas (her airline was not American just for the record). American Airlines have a bagging system where the bags get scanned in certain points and tracked. They have researched the option of putting RFID tags as "bag tags" but it would raise the cost of the tag up to 4 - 5x the current cost of the paper tag.
I was surprised to find out the avid Advantage member check their miles online 4 – 6 times monthly where the average online banking user only checks their accounts online 2 – 4 times a month. There are 16 million people in the Advantage program and only 51% of miles gained are through actual air travel. Not only that but they actually sell 40% direct, either through their website or their reservations line. I would think with websites like Priceline this number would have been a lot lower.