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Should Delta pilots “engage” customers or just fly the jet? How much is too much interaction?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

part of a delta after flight customer satisfaction survey about pilot

Apparently, there is a memo / page on the internal Delta computers telling Delta pilots to engage passengers more. I do not have all the details and have not seen the page, but from what I can glean it is directing / requesting pilots to have more contact with passengers.

This also squares with the new question that seems to have recently popped up on my post-flight Delta surveys about how my flight was (were you puzzled to see this question btw). Keep in mind with these surveys that if flight attendants (mainline) when they get all 5’s, or excellence, they get bonus cash from Delta and this is why I always give the top marks no matter what! But back to the topic at hand.

There have been some interesting discussions on pilot web boards about this request from the Delta mothership, that is, to have pilots increase their engagement with “us”. Some pilots commented that they feel it is just creepy at times and others think “we” don’t want this kind of engagement with them. One of the best lines I saw was:

“I’m a pilot, not Julie from the Love Boat.”

You do have to be old enough to have seen “The Love Boat” to get this reference but gosh it is funny and I have to agree with it. I think the mothership has a lot of guts to ask anything “extra” from Delta pilots right now as they are working out the new contract details. Especially since something like this that has nothing to do with their job of flying us safely from A-B.

My personal take on this topic, as someone who is a Diamond Medallion frequent flyer, is simple. I like the men and women who fly Delta jets. They have always got me from A-B safely. They are professional and have always been very kind (and patient I might add) to me each time “I” have engaged them. Now I have no problem with a pilot telling me “thank you for flying with us”, but I do not expect it or need it from them on every flight. The same thing goes from an FA. Sure it is nice to have them tell me thanks for my business, but sometimes it can feel “forced” and not genuine. That, to me, is worse than saying nothing at all.

I guess I would love to get your thoughts so I have put up a poll. Should Delta pilots go out of their way to “engage” those of us on Delta jets? – Rene

Should Delta pilots go out of their way to "engage" those of us on Delta jets?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. This seems like Delta Mothership is attempting to re-direct passenger dissatisfaction with all of Delta’s penny pinching behind the scenes changes to a way to blame the pilot and crew of a flight as being at fault.

    This is an insidious smokescreen to shift blame to employees from management.

  2. What I would like more communication about is when there is an unexplained delay. Why are we still sitting here? What is the current estimate of when we’ll get away? They sometimes give that information out, but sometimes there’s nothing. Sometimes they don’t know, of course, but even being upfront about that can be helpful, “We’re waiting for…and right now we don’t know exactly when… We’ll get back to you when we find out.”

  3. Part of customer engagement from pilots is making announcements about delays and keeping customers informed. Many could probably do a better job of that. I’ve seen pilots thank the First Class cabin for their business. One even explained that we’d probably be gone by the time he was able to get out of the seat when we landed so he wanted to thank Delta’s best customers personally. Little things like that make a lasting impression.

  4. I haven’t been able to complete a survey in months. They now send them to me by text message when I used to get them by email. Links in texts normally don’t but if they do, I get an error message after hitting the submit button that says I need to receive it by email to be able to complete it. I have sent emails to delta several times with no real response. It is worse than frustrating. The person who read my complaint a few days ago never actually read my email and admitted that after my reply to their ‘results’. I just want to know how to fix it.

  5. I am a pilot and fly for a living. I don’t fly “the big iron” but have been flying professionally for about 40 years. I have better things to do with my job then play nice with the “self loading cargo”! Maybe after the very last flight of the day I can see visiting with some of the pax, but the rest of the time I am either preparing the cockpit for the upcoming flight, or going over departure procedures etc with my co-bubba.

    • @Ward – LOL “self loading cargo” – love it! Thanks for keeping us safe up in the sky!

  6. I think if the pilot is able to do so in a warm genuine manner, there is no harm in doing so. On a recent flight from CUN to ATL, the pilot briefly welcomed first class and was on the jetway when departed. It was unexpected but very genuine and made an impression.

    All good brands build their identity and engagement through very intentional processes. I see nothing wrong in Delta doing the same.

    And for the pilot above, all of us in our jobs have “better things to do” but interacting with the people who pay your salary aka your customers aka self loading cargo shouldn’t be below that. No one is saying that safety or other details must be ignored but you honestly can’t squeeze out a few minutes?

  7. @DaveS- It is great to be fully informed about any of the circumstances of delays or changes.
    @Marshall Jackson -being thanked in person by pilots when in 1st class is nice and makes me feel special.
    What is NOT welcome is the constant PA announcements (if I want information about credit card offers, I’ll read Deltapoints).
    These excessive interruptions have made it almost impossible to watch a movie on the inflight entertainment system.

  8. laptoptravel Reply

    Fellow Delta Flyers –

    I view this as a two-part system. First, long-haul international flights (which I do a lot) I know the pilots are getting breaks and relief from the full flight and it is very nice for them to come and speak especially to the BE or DeltaONE cabin passengers, and more if time allows.

    For short domestic flights, I do not see the need or flight enhancement value for the pilot to make an appearance other than the obligatory “so long” and “thank you for flying Delta” as they make themselves visible while we depart.

    Delta has many businesses under one roof (i.e. cargo handling, security, fuel futures arbitrage, refineries, political lobbying, etc…) and the two that are most important to seasoned flyers is dependability and customer service. The telephone reservations staff, the SkyClub personnel, the flight attendants and often the gate agents and Red Coats do an exceptional job in comparison to other airlines.

    Therefore, I am very happy to have the pilot crew work on the dependability commitment while the rest of the Delta Team is working on customer service.

    That said, it always a treat (since I got my first Delta wings as a young lad) when a Captain takes the time to pass through, acknowledge and engage us inflight!

  9. I’d like a little warmth and possibly humor from the cockpit. I want to know the people that are in charge are in good, sane moods and they’re not going to deliberately fly the plane into a mountain. Honest and frequent updates on delays are imperative.

  10. On my friday flight the captain came into the first class cabin to thanks us for our business and gave us the rundown about the flight prior to repeating the same over the speaker for the rest of the plane. I can’t recall offhand another time when I was on a flight where the pilot did that. I thought it was a nice touch but also that it wasn’t necessary. I’m not offended when they don’t come say hi and I’d much rather have them running their pre-flights and not have to squeeze in a quick hello so that we get airborne on time.

  11. About ten years ago I was on a Delta MD-88 that was delayed for an indeterminate period of time. The captain came out and stood in front, where everyone could see him. He grabbed a microphone, explained the delay, then conducted a “noise tour” of the airplane. While the copilot switched on various systems and pumps that made noise, the captain explained the sound and what the underlying system did. Kind of cool, and obviously I still remember that flight to this day.

  12. On rare occasions, there are pilots that after everyone is on the plane steps out of cockpit and makes a couple of general statements to all the passengers. I liked it. It was a nice touch, perhaps because it rarely happens but it brought a face a human touch to what is happening up front. Thanks.

  13. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    This is nothing new. The survey question has been there for a while now. In January-March 2014, Delta seemed to have either instructed pilots to greet passengers or experimented with a pilot program because about 90% of my flights during this period featured pilots either greeting passengers as they boarded or deplaned or pilots walking the aisle before departure to thank passengers in first-class. This ended around March 2014 and I’ve never seen it again, except for an occasional pilot standing next to a flight attendant upon deplaning.

    • @FNT – Again, there seems to be something new on the internal Delta CPU’s! 😉

  14. TexasYankee Reply

    @ward thanks so much for the new description … “self loading cargo!” I am promptly stealing it. In fact there are different levels of “self loading cargo” which I will attempt to describe in the future.

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