Delta Means Change

In mathematics delta is the change in a variable. In air travel Delta represents change in service, and unfortunately, not for the better. As anyone who reads this knows (and we are now up to four) I travel quite a bit for my job. As a matter of fact most of the people in my office travel. We spend quite a bit of money on air travel in my little division, most of it with Delta airlines.

When I started flying Delta the service seemed pretty good and for the most part there was not a lot of wasted time. Once I made it past the TSA and the line of elderly women being fondled in the name of national security while men between the ages of 18 and 45 of Middle Eastern Descent were walking through, I had a pretty easy time. Boarding was usually pretty well organized and if it were not for the jackasses in first class who waited until last call at the runway zoom zoom bar at the other end of the airport we might have actually left on time.

Things have changed in the last six months and they have not been for the better. I have noticed that more and more flights are delayed and cancelled and that things do not run smoothly at all. Not long ago Delta changed boarding procedures so that people board by zone. The First Class and Elite Frequent Flyers board first and then there is no real rhyme or reason to the rest of the process. People are all over the place, there are not enough overhead spaces and folks have to get up and down more times than a jack-in-the-box to accommodate people who have window seats yet boarded last?

I have become more concerned about the delays and cancellations than anything else. In the past seven weeks I have had my flights changed, cancelled, or delayed four times. This has caused me to be late for several business meetings (despite allowing myself many extra hours to avoid such problems). In addition, I have had to spend the night in the airport because the airline employees could not tell the truth. They do it in subtle ways. The board says the flight is delayed three and a half hours but the agent tells you it is only an hour and a half. They tell you not to worry because your connecting flight is delayed by as much as your originating flight so you will not miss the ride home. This is the same kind of deceit that takes place when you are taxiing out for takeoff and your plane is about tenth in line. You are inching along at a snail’s pace and the pilot will not come on and tell you that you are tenth., No, he waits until you are third and then says “OK folks, we are third for takeoff, flight attendants please prepare the cabin.” They have had enough time to repaint the cabin but he has to tell them to prepare it?

Anyway, I have become concerned because Delta is struggling to remain solvent. They are having financial difficulties and they are trying to remain afloat (or aloft, as it were). After 75 years the mighty Delta could go bankrupt and be out of business by the end of the year. It seems to me that a company that is trying to remain in business would do what ever it takes to keep its customers. Delta seems to have a different philosophy which might explain why it is in trouble. You see, they do not really care if you leave for another airline. If you tell them you are going to find another airline they will wish you well. They do not attempt to rectify their mistakes and poor service. They just wave bye-bye as revenue walks to other airlines.

Last week I was told that my flight was going to be delayed but that there would be a connection in Atlanta. When I arrived in Atlanta there was no flight and I had to wait six hours in the airport to get a flight home. The agent asked me “You didn’t actually expect that flight to be here did you?” Well, gee. Just because the person in Chicago told me it would be kind of made me think so. “Here is an itinerary, see a gate agent in the morning.” If the folks at Delta had been honest, I could have stayed in Chicago one more night and flown out in the morning. If they had any business sense I would have been offered a hotel in Atlanta and I could have taken a later flight in the morning. They did none of this because they do not care.

I wrote an email to Delta and explained the problem that I had. I told them that I understood that the delay was caused by bad weather but that the agents could have handled it better. I also told them that my recently delayed or cancelled flights were due to them not having a flight crew, a flight crew being late, and mechanical issues with an aircraft. I told them that my time is worth money and that I rely on them to make sure I am successful by getting me to my destinations on time. I also told them that my clients fly on Southwest and do not seem to have these problems and that they have been trying to get me to switch to their carrier. I told them I wanted to be compensated for my time and that I felt 25,000 qualifying miles and a 6 month membership to their Crown Room was reasonable (I don’t drink but it would give me a place to stretch out during the ever increasing delays). They denied my request but as a matter of good faith sent me a $175 voucher good for use on items they sell like Crown Room Memberships and airline tickets. So now it is really great. I have a coupon so I can get discounted bad service. I can’t wait to hear this one from them. “Well sir, you get what you pay for, ha,ha.”

I have been talking to co-workers and we are all considering switching airlines to an organization that would welcome the possibility of millions of dollars in business in exchange for good service. The good thing is that several we have talked to will let us transfer our elite flying status to their elite status. This is the one thing that keeps people from switching in the first place. I urge all of you out there to consider airlines other than Delta when you fly. If their service is slipping this badly I hate to think what else might be slipping as well. I have to say that I was hoping they were going through a bad spell but they seem to be pretty consistent and their refusal to make things right with me only shows their contempt for the people who pay their salaries.

Good luck Delta. You are going to need it. As for me, I am actively working toward flying in another company’s planes before long. I hated to make a long rant but figured you might want to know what is going on. Consider this a public service for those of you who do not fly that much. Delta, it is time for change

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