Delta Air Lines made a very dry announcement. Southwest customers may salivate

Technology? Did I hear you say technology? Well, look at this.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Airplane wing in the sky

Essentially aware? 

aapsky/Getty Images

It's the essential dryness of press releases that can make them occasionally passive-aggressive. So when I uncrusted my eyes at this one, I detected snickers. Many, many snickers. On the part of those who wrote it, that is.

Even so, this press release had clearly been written by people who had been deprived of light and sound to get them in the mood. These were people who took their task very seriously. Their task at playing it as straight as is humanly possible.

The press release was headlined: "Kyndryl and Delta Air Lines Extend Collaboration on Critical IT Infrastructure."

A collaboration, huh? When was the last time you got excited about a collaboration? When an AI chatbot collaborated with a human's work and passed it off as its own?

Also: How to use ChatGPT to help you write essays

Oh, but we haven't even got to the essence of this press release: "Kyndryl, the world's largest IT infrastructure services provider, today announced a 5-year extended agreement with Delta Air Lines to enhance IT resiliency and scalability."

"Kyndryl," I hear you mutter. "Never heard of 'em." Honestly, I'm not sure I had either, but I learned the company was spun off from IBM's infrastructure business. So there you have it. Kyndryl says it's now the world's largest IT infrastructure services provider. 

It claims it's the "Heart of Progress." And Delta likes to fancy itself as the most progressive of airlines, so of course it works with Kyndryl. I could feel the writers of the press release sharpening their subtle snark, even though it progressed in a drily pointed manner.

It announced: "Through the extended agreement, Kyndryl will continue to help Delta run the core systems that power the airline's essential operations, including crew rostering and scheduling, as well as the system that supports Delta's maintenance documentation process. Kyndryl also supports Delta's major customer relations and loyalty programs and Delta's software for rebooking passengers from cancelled flights."

Also: Flying soon? Flighty is a must-have iOS app for air travel

There we have it. What's the first thing the writer wanted to mention as an example of "essential operations"? Why, it was crew rostering and scheduling. Not getting the planes out on time. Not making sure customers can rebook their flights.

Perhaps it wouldn't be the first thing to come to most minds -- unless, that is, they flew on Southwest (or tried to) over the Christmas period or read anything about people who flew on Southwest (or tried to) over the Christmas period.

It was Southwest's lack of investment in suitable technology that -- during that fateful meltdown -- inspired its inability to so much as know where its crews were at any given moment.

Perhaps it's just me -- please, have at it -- but I couldn't help but detect the merest poke at Southwest in these apparently bland words.

There were a few more, actually. Here's a quote from Rahul Samant, Delta's EVP and CIO: "Flexible and reliable systems deployed at scale are critical to serving customers with the very best service, support and experiences that make Delta different."

Also: I tried Delta's new free inflight Wi-Fi. Here's how fast it was

Did you like that, Southwest customers? Delta is different because it has "flexible and reliable systems."

Southwest insists it's investing more than $1 billion in its IT. This doesn't sound like a lot, given the scale of the debacle and the deleterious effect on the whole brand. GE is Southwest's tech partner and I'm sure they're working very quickly.

Sadly, experts spoken to by CNBC sniff that Southwest may have an extremely hard time of fixing things.

Ultimately, then, I can't help but think Delta chose a very dry way of whispering to Southwest's customers: "That sort of mess won't happen with us."

Well, except for last summer when Delta's service really didn't look very good at all. Perhaps even worse than that of many others.

And you should have seen the announcements the airline made then.

Editorial standards