What a day yesterday was. It was a long day since the meltdown started just after midnight Eastern time and then continued all day long. Many folks were REALLY upset and did not pull any punches on social media, but since my blog is PC-13 I will only share that much. I think you get the idea that many folks did not follow my suggestion of being nice to the Delta people who were trying to make things better.
What did Delta do right and wrong yesterday and why do I say they got both an A- and a C+ (not the seat, but the score)? Let’s start with the bad first and why I say C+.
Delta opened up, as they often do in damage control, blaming others. They blamed the power company but George Power would not play along and called them out. My parents always told me not to lie or even tell a “little lie” as they will always one day come back to bite you. Thankfully, Delta somewhat backtracked and did not try to blame anyone but themselves for the mess. But they still keep using the line “The airline experienced a loss of power” somewhat sounding like it was not really their fault. Yeah, C+ worthy.
Next we have SNAPP. Myself, and many Delta people, have been warning us about how bad things will go when 100% under SNAPP and under this melt down it failed according to all the reader reports who have interacted with Delta people. Don’t expect Delta to confirm this as the full change over will still happen. Wait till the next melt down when they cannot go back to DLterm to save them. That will mean a disaster of epic proportions. Fear this – I do!
But enough of the bad now on to the good and why in may ways Delta did shine and more than anything deserves praise for how the day unfolded and an A- is a valid score. Here is why.
Lots of updates. I really dislike the “Delta News Hub” as it is as much of a silly PR site as a news site. Having said that today it delivered a ton of updates and mostly transparent info. They are to be commended this round. They get, to use Olympic vernacular, a tiny deduction for stumbling out of the gates with the first press info about what was wrong.
Active social media folks (even on stupid comments). Delta folks work hard. The Delta Twitter people can fix an amazing amount of issues. They have even loosened up and now mostly respond to tweets. Even in the middle of the mess they took the time to respond to most requests to them even when they were mostly RANT tweets. Impressive.
Offer to change free even after the 8th. When so many are in a mess I am sure some gave up and went home (or to a hotel). Allowing you to change anytime this week if you were booked Monday, that is, you did not have to address the issue on Monday, is good for “you” and good for Delta too btw. However, as others have pointed out, it will likely take days to make everyone whole again so extending the waiver for a few days would have been nice. At least late in the day yesterday they extended it one more day through the 9th.
Pizza & other meals & refreshments. It is not like the EU261 rule where an airline has to pay you real money and give you food vouchers if your delay is a set number of hours. No, Delta in the USA by law or rule does not have to do anything at all but they do. They roll out HOOU carts with free water and sodas. When things go really wrong they often order pizza. You know it has been a very long day when you see free pizza (or bag lunches etc) at your gate. But still a very nice move.
A public apology in real time from CEO. A smart move by Ed Bastian. When folks are furious and looking for answers and want to vent at employees (they shouldn’t, but they do) then an “I’m Sorry” by the top dog of the company goes a long way.
A blanket $200 credit for affected passengers. Like food, Delta did not have to do this. Here is why this was both smart and dumb at the same time. Smart because you are owning the issue. You are trying to make it right. Dumb because if you were stuck for say 12-24 hours then that amount is all but meaningless. Keep in mind also that a VAST number of these vouchers go unspent so I doubt all who get these will spend them. They have 1 year to spend and yet one more year to fly btw.
Putting safety ahead of anything else. When you think Delta you think safety. I give Delta credit that they did all they could to get things back up and running, but not at the cost of a safe operation. I respect this.
So there you are. This has been an interesting start to the week for a great many of us who fly Delta. I think the Delta people have been amazing and have earned some extra time off for this event not of their making. I hope Delta takes the time to see that SNAPP is not ready for prime time yet and that maybe some more spending on IT would be a good idea. I am sure Delta has learned a bunch from this but the most important lesson is not to let it happen ever again! – René