business news in context, analysis with attitude

USAToday reports that Delta Air Lines has set as its primary goal the elimination of ticket counter lines at 81 airports that it serves, and the promise of 90-second check-in -- all by this summer. Currently, check-in can take as long as two hours, depending on the airport -- and that doesn't count the new security procedures now in place.

In Delta's case, this will mean doubling the number of automatic check-in machines available, and redeploying personnel so they are there to greet and help fliers before they even get to the check-in experience.

"While other airlines are also rolling out dozens of check-in machines, none have been as bold as Delta in pledging to eliminate lines. And none have vowed to flood lobbies with legions of agents to aid customers," USAToday reports. "The change underscores how airlines' financial crisis is forcing them to rethink how they've operated for decades and find ways to fix airport hassles."
KC's View:
It also means that while airlines like United are in the news for making cuts and trying to stave off bankruptcy, Delta makes headlines for trying to improve the passenger experience. That isn't insignificant.

Seems to us that it is this kind of big thinking that ought to be embraced by the supermarket industry. Where is the chain -- or independent -- making the same kind of commitment to its shoppers? Sure, there are lots of logistical reasons why this kind of strategy might be difficult or impossible to achieve, but that ought not to matter.

We were talking to someone yesterday who was telling us how when Southwest Airlines wanted to figure out how to speed up airplane turnaround, it didn't go to se United or American; instead, it went to see the pit crews at the Indianapolis 500, who know a lot about fast turnaround.

It is that kind of creative thinking that needs to be adopted by the food industry. It could be the key to survival.