Time for a very personal post. My head is just spinning and my brain hurts. Why? Let me “try” to explain.
Everyone knows Delta runs a good operation. They are scarily on time for a legacy airline (even if they do pad schedules a bit to accomplish this, that is OK by me). They just about never cancel a flight – EVER. Now sure, sticking to this plan can result in flying jets with, shall we say, some issues that can be a bit frustrating to passengers. But bottom line is they get you from A-B pretty darn well.
Also the Delta “experience” is normally good for a domestic airline. The Delta food is good or very good in fact. Wifi is consistent and reliable (even if a bit slow at times). When you are on one of the upgraded seat jets with new IFE it is an outstanding experience. DeltaONE or international business class is a nice product and service is excellent. The Skyclubs have been upgraded and improved across the board so much that they are simply CRUSHING the other airlines in comparison (not counting most AMEX Centurion lounges, clearly, as that is still the standard to beat).
Delta people are very good too. From airport reps to red coats to phone reps to digital support – all are, most times, just a pleasure to deal with and want to help.
The bottom line is all of the above is remarkable. They are just so far above the competition that it is not even a question who to choose. If you are a United flyer, and fly Delta, you will be in shock over the difference. Then there is the one teeny tiny little issue:
It seems like Delta has one group running everything to do with Delta and are dedicated to unmatched excellence. They are willing to do whatever it takes to win, to win big, to build loyalty on so many levels, to just crush the competition. Then there is the other team running SkyMiles who seem to have the exact opposite goals. They want to mislead, confuse, frustrate and hide information from flyers. They update information and tell no one (because most of the time the updates are just nasty). They truly seem to want to destroy loyalty and show there is a sub-basement below the bottom floor you never knew existed (but will soon).
This complete disconnect between so many parts of Delta that are driven to #KeepClimbing and the other division that is equally driven to #KeepDescending is mind boggling. That is why my brain hurts.
Let me give you an example of excellence that literally moved me to tears. I was humbled and stunned.
Saturday I was flying home from LAX. I had a very early morning flight and all my segments had cleared to 1st class (it’s good to be a Delta Diamond). I gave up all those upgrades to be able to SDC or same day change to a later flight departing around lunch time so I would not have to get up in the middle of the night to make the “dark-30” flight. That turned out to almost be a huge mistake had it not been for Delta elite services.
I was changed from my confirmed upgrade on my other flights and placed back on the upgrade list as upgrades do not carry over when you SDC. No problem, sleeping in at the InterContinental hotel LA in a huge suite would be worth a coach ride, if necessary, from LAX to DTW. I need not have worried as a Diamond flying on a Saturday, I was cleared into first class as second on the list with four seats open. Then things started going wrong.
We had a gate change (no big deal as that happens often). But, the gate our 737-900er pulled into had a busted ground air conditioning unit (the pilot called it, I think, an APU). Anyway, the point was the jet got hot. Really hot. Almost intolerably hot. And then we were delayed. The captain told us that an hour and a half ago he had requested an external unit. At last we got some kind of a unit that would provide some cool air, but was not the right one to fully cool the jet. The captain was great with info and you could hear the frustration in his voice. He was on “our side”.
My main stress was not the heat but the rolling delay. You see I only had about an hour in Detroit to make my connection to South Bend and my flight was the last one of the day. Not good.
I was also having a rare, but really fun, twitter exchange with the Delta Assist folks about the situation. I was not mad as I know stuff happens. And while I really wanted to get home, worst case, I would overnight in Detroit and get home the next day. Not ideal as I had a bunch of things to do on Sunday, but also not the end of the world. I teased Delta Assist I may need a Porsche ride to make my connection depending on where my gate was and especially since the “express tram” is currently non-operational in DTW. Just to be clear, you can NOT reserve the car service from gate to gate. Delta decides when they will extend it. But unless things changed, and without intervention, it did not look like I would make it home Saturday night and would enjoy another stay at the Westin DTW (hey I need SPG stay credits to keep my Starwood Platinum so at least there is that).
The captain did all he could to make up time once in the air, but it was not looking good. Unless my departure gate was literally across from my arrival gate I would miss the flight. Even then, I would have, maybe, 10 minutes to make the flight. Not good. Delta Assist asked me to keep them up to date with my progress. I did just that and about an hour or so before the SBN flight I got an e-mail from Scott in Detroit that my gate in DTW would, in fact, be just about across from my arrival gate and he would even be at the gate to make sure I made the flight and to quickly say “hi” to a loyal Diamond Medallion. Oh, and would I like a window or aisle seat in 1st class as I would clear my upgrade.
I did quickly meet Scott as he handed me the above gift bag on the way down the jet bridge. I was floored. I mean, yes, I did just this week make “double diamond” (not a real term, it just means I have over 250,000 MQMs) but I am no Delta360 flyer worthy of anything special like this. I was overwhelmed and truly still am.
This does go to show you what Delta is willing to do for loyal flyers. From Porsche rides to phone and digital reps willing to go out of their way to “fix things” when your travels go wrong – Delta IS doing it and not just for me in this instance. So beyond impressive.
I ended up, for the first time in my life, flying a “mainline” that is a “real” Delta jet into South Bend airport. I have never done that before. (btw this was due to Notre Dame traffic that would depart Sunday morning). That flight, by itself, was one of the reasons I booked the fights to begin with so that too was exciting on it’s own let alone all the other events surrounding it.
All of this gets me back to “Questioning, considering and rethinking loyalty – My brain hurts!” I am so impressed with Delta operationally. How can an airline “this good” and working so hard to be the absolute best airline ever take such joy in utterly decimating the frequent flyer program? It just does not make any sense to me. Why work SO hard to reward loyalty with one hand and then with the other hand crush loyalty? If Delta even put 10% of the same effort they put into making the rest of the airline great into SkyMiles, they would be the unquestioned best airline in the USA across the board – and yet they don’t.
My brain hurts! – Rene