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Hello, Mr. Anderson…

Oct 21

In Rambling, Thoughts at 5:08am

You’ve certainly become a bit of a household name, and face, via your folksy thank you videos that all Delta passengers are familiar with by now. And kudos on trying to make the process of “inserting the metal flap into the belt buckle” more entertaining. Love the triplet scenario in the emergency exit row.

Videos aside, you’re doing a nice job running Delta, you and all your colleagues. I find Delta service to be generally excellent, upbeat, and folks from the counter to the cockpit strive to please. Some of the planes are pretty old, but you’re making strides. A bunch of the airports are much nicer of late. (The iPads at LaGuardia are fun.)

I’m just like all the other legions of folks who daily drag their fatigued buttocks down jetways and onto your planes. (I was going to say sorry asses, but that has a judgmental quality to it, and I shouldn’t extend that descriptor to others. Their posteriors might well be thankful, happy ones.) The only difference that might accrue to me is that I tend to do it more frequently than most. I’ve flown over 1.9 million miles on your airplanes 

I’m a freelance photographer, and have been sent many places on this earth where your planes happen to go. Even though I fly a lot, do a lot of business with Delta, I realize that as a tiny operation my studio matters not to a huge enterprise like yours. I am an economic flyspeck in the big picture of things. But, there are a lot of us flyspecks out there, on your planes. And it’s been this two way street of you running a good airline, and us coming back for more, that has gotten Delta to a very good and happy place, right? Near record profits. Gas prices are falling. (Though, somehow, airline ticket prices are rising.) Planes are constantly full. Reasonably priced tickets are generally non-refundable.

(How many businesses, outside of Uncle Stevie’s on Canal St. in NY, back in the day, can get away with basically an all sales are final motif?)

Most of us pound a certain airline (hence the loyalty factor) to accumulate miles. When my kids were young, I called my Delta miles “Mickey Miles” so I could get the kids down to Florida and wait with them on the line for Dumbo. And you do give back for the loyalty. I’m a non-stop coach flyer, only occasionally springing for the moola to do an up front seat. And the upgrades I get pretty frequently are very welcome. My arthritic knees would be happy to send you chocolates.

But those biz class seats are becoming like a mirage, fading in the distance, ever receding, certainly in terms of buying them. I just booked my wife and I for a NY to London, part work/part vacation trip later this year. Coach seats went for $960, roughly, which is fair enough. Just for giggles, I asked the agent to price biz class tix. $7700! Gouge! I mean ouch! Even the Delta person on the other end of the phone choked on that one. For the NY to London to NY route, that computes to more than $500 an hour in the air. That better be a pretty comfy seat! Honestly, if I paid that kind of hourly rate for a fancy, motorized chair, I’d expect it to be more than comfortable. I’d expect it to, you know, do something for me. I won’t go further.

And now the frequent flyer, mileage program is going to be pitched not on miles flown, but on price paid. Sigh. There will be new quotas to adhere to, and an increasingly high bar to gain any measure of decent treatment and comfort, none of it based on loyalty, frequency of travel, or miles flown. It’s all based on price. My bud and fellow long time traveler David Burnett, on his Facebook page, just quoted a letter Delta Platinum Flyers recently got that evidently said something to the effect of, if everyone’s elite, no one is.  Does Delta really mean to become an airborne country club?

Here’s what should have happened. It should have been offered, this new plan. Not required. Those at the beginning of their lifelong journeys, new to the ways of the traveler, well, okay, I can see why they might have to sign onto this new style of program. Virtually every company in America offers incoming, new employees a different deal than those who joined the enterprise thirty years ago, if there are any of those folks still around the hallways.

Those who have stuck with you, through the bad old days, through the mayhem of the Northwest merger, through the winds and weather of travel, should have been offered a choice. Stick with the program you know and love, or opt for the new one. Some folks, whose type of business might be able to afford higher fares, just might leap at the chance to capitalize on their expenditure, and go for the new gig. The rest of us, beleaguered and unattractive as we might be, have been quite a sizable spark plug of your currently revved up economic engine for quite a while. We should have been offered a tip of the hat.

We should be given a choice. Options. Acknowledgement. Fairness. We don’t deserve to be thrown under the bus, or in this instance, into the baggage hold.

I’m sure, sir, you’ve heard of the old expression, “Ya gotta dance with the one who brung ya!” And your long time loyal flyers would definitely be the ones who brought you to this current, festive party Delta is enjoying. Sticking with us would be the way, Mr. Anderson, of showing the frequent Delta customer that you do, as you say in your down home, aw shucks video, “always have your back.”

Friends of the blog, feel free to bat this blog around the internet, and by all means, if you fly the all of sudden very expensive Delta skies, give them a call, write them a note.

More tk…..




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