Last night my fellow blogger Points, Miles and Martinis broke the news before Delta’s public PR posting that they were in fact dumping the ridiculous over the phone booking fee. The reaction to this by those who the press reached out to was shock, amazement and astonishment that Delta would do this. An airline dumping a fee – why in the world would they do this (no answer was given). Let me try to answer the question rather than just cut-N-paste the Delta News Hub PR press release.
First off Delta does nothing ever unless it helps Delta in some way, that is, the bottom line. Delta would never dump a fee that is making them a gazzillion dollars (or what do you think). I mean as talked about this morning in the Delta 1Q16 live report, the president of Delta himself said that they have the “best revenue team in the business”. Would such a team dump a profitable fee? Not very likely even it makes customers happy. Delta is no charity.
So then, if we are to speculate, why would Delta make this change? I have a few ideas that are very likely the correct guesses. Let’s break them down.
1) The fee is costing more than it earns. Some in the media have speculated that this is the fact, that is, the fee is so punishing that folks are not buying a ticket because they don’t want to pay the fee. That could be. After all, most book online anyway right?
2) It forces folks to use sites other than Delta.com. I think this is the really big reason why. I myself over and over tell my readers NOT to start at Delta.dumb to book tickets because it can cost them so much money. KAYAK.com is an outstanding site that gives you a chance to compare, not just Delta, but other airlines as well. Heck, it can even find routes Delta.com will not find and for cheaper prices. I would think a person calling a Delta rep would be better than this choice (for Delta).
3) A phone rep will only feed the routes / prices the airline wants. You may not be aware of this but Delta is using software that will push routes that may or may not be the cheapest you can find (see point 2). Yes, other sites may find routes, even on Delta, that are less than those a phone reps offers a caller. Yeah, that could be a reason why, one would think.
4) The missed chance to upsell a caller. If someone calls a Delta rep, and knows they will not pay a booking fee, then the rep is working “for them” or at least they may think that. After finding flights, a phone rep can warn them firmly that the BASIC cheapest flights they have found have nasty restrictions and do they REALLY want to book these tickets. I mean, for a few bucks more they can be in C+ that has almost 1st class-lite service with priory boarding, free Delta studio and drinks! What a deal!
5) The missed chance to upsell after the sale. I would guess very few book hotels or cars after they are done booking a ticket but unless you never called Delta you do not know that reps PUSH hotels and cars for where you are going. Then they notice you don’t have the Delta AMEX card so do you want one of those. I would think a fee free booking would help push all these extra sales.
6) Delta.com may not be able to book what they are looking for. We all know Delta.com is not the most user friendly site in the world and that is why we use KAYAK.com and others. I am sure, despite married segment logic and such a phone rep could, if asked, make sure to find tickets that a caller is wanting.
7) It is so much simpler and with new booking rules someone may not check for cheaper routes. Clearly Delta does not want folks to book a number of one-way tickets that may be MUCH cheaper than all these one-ways on one ticket. I doubt a Delta phone rep is going to tell the caller, “hey, you can save a ton of cash if you book these as a number of one-ways“!
I think we could go on and on and do this all day long and I think you see my point. I am reasonably sure Delta has very carefully run all the numbers, run focus groups, consulted with psychologists and a gaggle of bean counters and all have told Delta that they will make money dumping the phone booking fee.
At least this is my guess. What do you think? – Rene