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Posts tagged Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines announced that they would be rolling out new uniforms for 60,000 frontline employees. The new uniforms are for check-in and gate agents, flight attendants, and below the wing employees such as cargo and ramp staff.

Delta Airlines New Uniforms 2

New Delta Uniforms 1

The uniforms have been described as “high class” and “elegant” by Delta and reporters. And yes, the uniforms are a very nice change, but the hype around them seems a little over the top. I think it gets to me because it simply seems like a distraction from the fact that travel on U.S. airlines in economy has become a rather bleak affair. It is an illusion of fancy in an industry that has become anything but; Basic economy fares and less legroom has become the norm. Yes, I know, fare prices are on the decline domestically, but that comes with the added expense of the ancillary fares, which airlines are attempting to increase.

I think the fancy new uniforms speak to a larger trend in modern consumerism. I don’t mean to go existential but it feels like we’re giving up what matters for what looks good, not just in airplane amenities but in everyday life. Maybe it is time to take a step back and realize that the substance of what we enjoy and cherish is more important than the window dressing.

Delta Airlines did something wrong before Andy Azula’s recent flight and he’s written about it (please see letter below). He’s right that Delta needs to apologize and offer some sort of compensation for the fact that they made him a day late to his meetings. The incident had nothing to do with weather and he should have been accommodated on the next available flight on another carrier.

My issue with what Azula wrote is in the tone he takes about himself, that working for UPS and being on television makes his claim more important. If anything, his status as a Delta Platinum Medallion has more weight behind it. I hear claims like his every time I am at the airport. Some guy is late getting to the airport, misses his flight and then proceeds to berate the agent that is trying her best to get him on the next plane, screaming, “Do you know who I am?!”.

In Azula’s case, he did receive poor customer service, but throwing around your place in society gains no sympathy from me. It is an alarming trend in fact. Maybe it’s blogging (I’ve been known to complain here about travel issues) or Twitter or something in the psyche, but people seem to really take complaints to the next level.

This complaint does not spell the end for the Delta, it simply means that there are people complaining in a new way. Delta should read it, respond to it, offer compensation and move on. That’s it. Mr. Azula should report the incident to the Department of Transportation (without mentioning who he is or how much his kids were crying).

[EDIT] Mr. Azula has since pulled the blog post down so I have posted a copy below.

Dear Delta:

I am a frequent-flyer with Platinum status on Delta. And one of your biggest fans.

I’m also the guy in those UPS Whiteboard commercials on TV. And I’m not just the actor. I’m also am the creative director at the ad agency who creates the advertising for UPS.

On June 18th I flew Delta for the last time. As of now, I cannot imagine ever stepping foot on another Delta airplane.

Because on June 18th, things went wrong. Very, very wrong.

On that morning, my wife and two children (7 year old twins), got up at 4 am in order to catch the first flight from our home in Richmond, VA to Atlanta. It was a business trip mixed in with a family vacation. You see, my parents live in Atlanta and my children hadn’t seen their grandparents for quite some time. As you can imagine, we were all very excited.

The sequence of events that occurred for the next 13 hours, and then resumed again the next day, is almost too hard to explain.

In fact, as type this, my heart is racing once again.

You see, our flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem on our plane. Over the course of the next 13 hours we sat in the terminal at Richmond as flight after flight after flight all departed on time to Atlanta. Except, of course, ours. An entire airplane full of people – all of whom had gotten up early to catch the first flight of the day – watched helplessly as every other plane departed incident-free.

And since our bags were on the plane (we had all already been seated, before we were asked to de-board) we couldn’t even get our luggage off the plane and go home. Also, we kept being told our plane was almost fixed.

I took the initiative at noon to book us on the 5pm flight to Atlanta. I called Delta (five times in fact – you can check) to confirm and re-reconfirm again. I was continually reassured that my family had guaranteed seats on that 5pm flight. I was, in fact, on the phone with you as the Delta employees at the gate refused to give us our seats – on a flight we had already been confirmed on. And I never even heard an “I’m sorry.”

Consequently, I missed a few things in Atlanta: The Direct Marketing Association’s conference – of which I was the guest speaker. It was a paid event and the DMA was understandably shocked, mortified and embarrassed by the situation. They had to offer refunds to all their attendees.

I also missed my Wall Street Journal interview.

I also missed my meeting.

But much worse than all that, was what happened to my family.

I really wish some one could hear the crying and see the stress on my children’s face, as they ask why we couldn’t go see grandma and grandpa. And why we couldn’t just go home. I wish you could have heard the phone calls as all of us cried as we spoke with my parents. As my parents, who were also crying, tried to console their grandchildren. My children kept on asking why the airline was doing this to them. They kept asking what is was they did wrong.

We finally got our bags back after our 7am flight was officially and blessedly canceled.

At 6pm.

We were NEVER even offered as much as food vouchers for breakfast, lunch or dinner – all of which were purchased at the airport, as our flight continued to be pushed back and back. And we were not alone. But at least we could spend the evening in our home.

Again, we never even heard an apology.

The flight the next morning, was of course, delayed. Those passengers, who hadn’t been through what the rest of us had, could not understand our collective stress and tears when our gate was changed and then we were delayed. It was a short delay, one that until now, I wouldn’t have even given a second thought about. But the stress lasted much longer. I had to promise my children that I would not make them fly on an airplane anytime soon. They used to LOVE to fly. They simply cannot understand why things are so unfair.

Since returning on June 21st, I have flown 5 round trip flights to Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York. None of those flights have been on Delta.

I am now prepping my travels for the next three months, which include multiple flights to Los Angeles, St Louis, New York, Orlando, London, Berlin, Singapore and Shanghai.

In fact, I am literally flying MORE than I ever have in my life!

But until I receive some sort of apology, I will continue to adjust my schedule to avoid Delta. My coordinator and travel agent know not to book me on any Delta flights for the time being.

This is a fixable problem. This is about principle? Yes. It’s about my belief in customer service. It’s about working with business partners who respect each other. I really believe that. Which is why, until June 18th, I had been one of your biggest cheerleaders.

In the end, it wasn’t the actual circumstance that has caused me to avoid your airline. It is the complete and utter lack of compassion.

Regrettably,

Andy Azula
UPS Whiteboard Actor
SVP/ Creative Director – The Martin Agency

This week’s links are a real hodge-podge!
  • Single Google Query Uses 1,000 Machines in 0.2 Seconds – A neat look inside of Google search. To use that much processing power in such a short time span is unbelievable.
  • Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0 – If the allegations of Yelp using its ability to change results for reviews to sell services are true, shame on them.
  • Delta to Close 170 Gates – As a side product of the merger with Northwest, Delta will be closing 170 gates across the country. The airline landscape in the U.S. is about to look a lot different.
  • Easy Poached Eggs – This one is random. We have fallen in love with Eggs Benedict, which requires poached eggs. We’ll be experimenting with them tonight.
  • Slice of Stimulus Will Go to Faster Trains – Not enough money to buy a high-speed train though. So we continue down the same path we’ve been on before, one that is plagued with a nonchalant attitude toward the power of rail.
  • A Prayer for Archimedes – A long lost text shows that the mathematician had begun to discover the principles of calculus; Long before Newton and Leibniz.