I am traveling on Delta airlines. This has the feel of a very corporately managed, bottom-line oriented company. That is, it is providing just enough service to make the maximum amount of money.

This shows up as meals to purchase on the flight ($5 to $15 and $2 snicker doodles ), complementary drinks but you don't get the can and totally automated, bar-coded, self-serve-kiosk centric customer interactions.

Someone went in for deeply computerizing the system. I mentioned the kiosks for self-check-in, but the announcements in the waiting lounge are computer generated (no unintellegable gate attendent announcing over the speakers) and large LCD displays put up information on stand-by passangers and their status. Bar code scanners follow your progress from checkin to boarding. The database knows all.

I do wonder if some of these automations actually save money. The generated announcement system, for instance: It costs money to install, there must exist a maintance crew to repair them, there must be people generating the backup procedures if they fail and there are still times that the boarding crew has to make announcements so they can't get rid of the old system. The speech is clearer and the modulated male voice is reassuring, but did they save money over the old way?

Technology is not the answer to every question.