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Airlines Updating Tech in Attempt to Improve Customer Experience

Airlines looking into GPS and Web enabled tech
There once was a time, at the dawn of the commercial flight era, when major airlines were at the forefront of new technology. While its computerized reservation system may have been revolutionary back in 1960, it hasn't changed a whole lot since, and consumers have had to suffer because of it. Decades-old computers and convoluted networks have only served to exacerbate already strained customer relations at airports, and with the aviation industry facing swelling losses in recent years, there hasn't been a surplus of extra cash to help update the infrastructure. According to the New York Times, though, many major airlines are putting more money toward bridging the digital gap, and are doing it with consumers in mind.

Carriers have begun introducing hand-held devices for airport agents, allowing them instant access to flight information, as well as the ability to advise travelers airport-wide. Officials are also exploring ways to take advantage of GPS-enabled smartphones, which may enable airlines to instantly know if a passenger is stuck in traffic or to offer an earlier flight, if she or he show up with time to spare.

Many are optimistic that more contemporary technology can also help airline companies better deal with delays and setbacks. Some airlines, including Continental Airlines and American Airlines, have now begun using something called 'Yada,' a system that allows agents to instantly rebook passengers, relay gate change information and hunt down lost luggage -- negating the need for travelers to wait in line. Since the Yada devices are equipped with credit card readers, airline workers can check oversized bags directly at the gate, and administer extra fees as necessary.

This new technology will gradually make its way across major airports this summer, so it may be a while before the industry completely catches up to the 21st century. Yet it's still a positive sign that airlines have realized that customer satisfaction is intrinsically linked to collective success. As Delta Air Lines chief information officer Theresa Wise says, "Technology is absolutely key for us to be able to offer an exceptional customer experience, which in turn is necessary to succeed as an airline." [From: New York Times]

Tags: airlines, AirlineSector, airport, computers, customer satisfaction, customer service, CustomerSatisfaction, CustomerService, flying, technology, top, travel, Traveling, Yada