How JetBlue Is Taking Tech to the Skies

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July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Eash Sundaram, chief information officer at JetBlue, discusses the airline's technology initiatives with Emily Chang and Cory Johnson on "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)

Work echo -- check in work?

We just launched automatic check-in recently and it has been a huge success.

We look at constantly enhancing our customer service and experience.

Auto check-in is a great way to move forward.

If you think about going to a baseball game, you don't check in.

Why do you do that at an airport?

We look at airports in the future to be more transitional in nature than transactional.

We are looking to eliminate a step in the process, so customers don't have to go through that.

The auto check-in is the first of several enhancements we are rolling out in the next 18 months.

I might understand why you check-in at an airport because of not enough people are checked in for the flight, then you can get in on the flight, which is a bit different from the baseball game.

But one of the things about airport data, you have internet connections to speed up this whole process.

Explain how that works.

When -- with a company like jetblue, we do not oversell tickets, so we do not have that problem.

Check-in was a 1960's process when airports started using computers.

The only way to do that was to check-in as part of the process.

We can use bubble technology to know where our customers are and if we can use real-time information to check the customers in and send that to their mobile device, that experience is much more seamless.

We may even be able to give a permanent boarding pass to the customer for that experience.

Why is it so hard for the airlines to adopt these things?

Is it about legacy systems?

Is it about legacy hardware?

Is accommodation of both.

As you know, airports operate under a common use with several agencies working through it.

And the airports have grown through acquisition of several software systems.

Were example, we have over 400 systems that need to talk to each other.

Things that may be easier in other industries get a little bit more difficult, but that does not give us an excuse not to do certain things in a creative way.

When you look at jetblue, one is personalization.

How does that cater to the individual needs of a customer of jetblue?

And the second is a lean approach.

What do you have to do when you can automate or elevate the process to elevate the customer experience?

Fax you also use -- you also use technology to enable planes to talk to one another.

Tell us a little bit about that.

Absolutely, emily.

We launched something that is still in the beta phase.

Four years ago, when jetblue first had connectivity in flight, we were not happy with that experience.

We partnered with a company and launched a satellite from kazakhstan about two years ago.

We have spectacular product on the airline for the customers.

Think of the aircraft getting 12 megabits per second bandwidth per customer.

That is really amazing.

Now you look at the customers have an access and give it to the crewmembers, whether it is in flight or inside the cockpit.

And that is in real time, whether managing the flight operations or the customer experience within that plane.

What percentage of revenues do you devote to this technology ? i wonder if you guys have a much bigger budget for technology and i wonder why other airlines don't. we are a very tech savvy company, especially being a young company into its second decade.

We look at technology as the connective tissue that will link us to the customers in a highly efficient way.

I cannot give you the specifics of the budget, but when you think of wi-fi -- you know, broadband, wi-fi in the air, it is part of our core experience.

We do not look at wi-fi as something you offer for a high fee.

Customers cannot afford it.

That experience is absolutely free for the basic service.

If you want to stream service -- stream videos and other things, there is a nominal fee for that.

You walk into a hotel or to your home and connectivity is expected.

We look at it as part of the core offering.

Jetblue's chief information officer, thank you for joining us.

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