Delta Focuses On Brand, Not Passengers, During Outage

It goes without saying that Delta has had a rather rough week, after their systems went down on Monday morning. Operations are finally mostly back to normal today, so I wanted to briefly reflect on Delta’s crisis performance, because there are some areas where they did exceptionally well, while other areas where they failed their customers.

Outages happen…

There has been shock and outrage from people about how a malfunction like this could possibly happen. Perhaps I’m more forgiving than others, but I don’t fault Delta for the problem as such.

Yes, this was a huge failure. A switchgear malfunctioned, and then the real issue that caused the catastrophe was that the backup systems didn’t kick in as they were supposed to.

“How can the world’s second largest airline be reliant on a single piece of technology?”

Well, there are malfunctions every single day at global airlines, and fortunately 99%+ of the time the proper backup systems kick in, so as customers these problems never impact us.

Once in a while every company has a catastrophic failure, and that includes Delta, the self proclaimed “on time machine.”

So I hope they learn from the situation, though I realize no company is immune from failures like this.

Delta’s words…

Delta is brilliant at marketing themselves, and their recovery efforts have been no exception. They’ve had frequent high level communication, and they should be commended for that. It would be tough to beat the frequency and level of remorse with which Delta communicated.

The same day the outage happened, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, made a video personally apologizing for the issues:

On the other end of the spectrum they put out some ridiculous fluff press releases, like that they transported 40 passengers in private jets to get them to their destinations:

Perfect, I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of people who were stranded will be thrilled to hear about Delta’s commitment in that regard.

Delta has even taken out billboards and electronic signs all over the place thanking people for their patience and indicating that their operations are back to normal.

They’ve also proactively offered delayed passengers compensation, something they came up with pretty quickly.

So in terms of image management, they’ve been doing exceptionally well… as Delta usually does.

Delta’s actions…

Here’s where Delta really failed their customers. Presumably when this outage happened, Delta knew that it would be several days before operations were back to normal.

About half of Delta’s flights on Monday didn’t operate, so it goes without saying that a huge number of flights on Tuesday wouldn’t operate either, and that the schedule issues would continue over the next several days.

However, Delta only issued a travel waiver for Monday. It wasn’t until Monday night that they issued one for Tuesday, and until late on Tuesday that they issued one for Wednesday.

To me it’s ridiculous that they’d wait that long. Per their policy, during the day on Monday a passenger booked on a Tuesday Delta flight would have to pay a change fee to reschedule their flight.

Furthermore, the travel waiver indicated that tickets had to be rebooked for travel by this Friday. This is impractical for so many reasons:

  • Presumably Delta knew that operations would be impacted for several days, so why would they want to force passengers to rebook for travel within a few days, rather than letting them rebook for later dates? This made the situation even worse.
  • A lot of people might be weekly commuters, so suggesting that someone simply reschedule Monday morning travel for Thursday or Friday isn’t exactly useful, in many instances.

Let’s also keep in mind that a bit under a year ago Delta discontinued their inline agreement with American. This would basically allow passengers to be rebooked on other airline at pre-arranged rates in the event of irregular operations. Delta was so confident in their operational performance that they weren’t willing to accept industry standard reimbursement rates.

In this situation that meant that Delta couldn’t easily rebook passengers on American, since the agreement wasn’t in place. So while they may be better operationally most of the time, that’s a policy that severely inconvenienced passengers this week. They thought they were better than other US carriers, and that cost their customers a lot of rebooking options this week.

Bottom line

Delta has done an incredible job managing their image throughout all of this, as usual. They had high level communication, and are even spending (what I assume is) a lot money on ads apologizing to customers.

While front line employees have been going above and beyond to accommodate passengers, the high level decisions Delta has made during this outage have been disappointing. Only issuing a travel waiver for one day at a time, and requiring people to travel by the end of the week, is ridiculous when we’re talking about something of this scale. Furthermore, Delta’s self perceived operational superiority cost their customers this week, as they weren’t able to be rebooked on airlines like American.

So good job on the image management, Delta, but in terms of actual policies in place, I think they left a lot of customers hanging.

What do you make of Delta’s performance during their outage?

Comments

  1. “ridiculous fluff press releases, like that they transported 40 passengers in private jets”

    Bet those 40 people don’t find it ridiculous… If you’ve got a customer that spends 6 figures per year on your airline’s tickets and/or controls a travel dept that has hundreds of charges, you *should* take exceptional care of them … that’s business 101, not ridiculous image management. That’s how you earn a high value customer for life.

  2. What did you expect from Delta? That’s who they are. It is all about their image and shareholder value. Customers? Who cares???? Also, very typical of them to blame someone else for their failures. They quickly pointed out to the Power company that denied any issue from their side. And BTW, how about customers that were going on vacation that simply cannot do it at Delta’s convenience? Shouldn’t they be allowed for full refund if they cannot travel on another date? Delta is playing with fire and will get burned soon. Their only advantage is that customers don’t have many options to switch since AA and UA are also abysmal in quality and customer service so most people will stick with Delta. However, they forget that customers are the ones that allow them to return value to shareholders and by pissing them off so often is not a good thing.

  3. @ Justin — I think you’re missing my point. I’m not saying Delta should or shouldn’t have done it. What I’m saying is that I’m not sure it’s good PR to basically brag to hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck at the airport about how they’re treating a few dozen high value customers.

  4. Remember how American had a similar situation back in April 2013? How Delta’s efforts this week compared to what American did in 2013? I remember Horton getting in front of a camera apologizing as well. I was scheduled to travel then, but I booked myself a ticket on Delta because I had to get back to the work. American refunded me the cost of my original ticket and issued a voucher in the amount of fare difference between my original ticket And the delta ticket. I was quite pleased with the outcome.

  5. @lucky

    Or you could interpret that they’re doing what they can with the resources available — which is how I see it, personally. I don’t think anyone could expect them to have a fleet of hundreds of private jets at every airport… All you can ask during a bad situation is that an airline do what they can — which it seems they did. Maybe I’m just naive?

  6. Was it my imagination or did they do much better for the brand and their customers than Southwest did a few weeks earlier? I agree the waivers could have been handled better. They also offered all their FAs extra pay – in some cases a lot – to pick up extra flights to keep planes that were in place flying when crews were out of place.

  7. @Justin I think all that Lucky is getting at is the communication strategy – Delta didn’t have to communicate this as publicly as they did, and at that time. It alienated all except 40 customers. The fact they did give these planes to their high-rollers is not the issue.

  8. They originally blamed the problem on a “power outage” implying that they were victims and Georgia Power was quick to debunk that BS on national TV. They didn’t do a horrible job with their PR but I wouldn’t give them an award for their performance. And their rebooking deal was salt in the wounds.

    I hope they lost a lot of money on this. The airlines screw the flying public every day without penalty. They’re making record billions in profit and they are cutting corners on computer systems engineering. And they want their passengers to suck it up and soldier on while they get their crap together. No kudos for Delta.

  9. @Santastico “What did you expect from Delta? That’s who they are. It is all about their image and shareholder value. Customers? Who cares????”

    I think you can say a lot of things about Delta positive and negative; but I wouldn’t characterize them as anti or oblivious to customers and their concerns. I’ve been elite with Delta for a number of years and have always found the majority of their front line people as very good. That is very much a part of the company culture that stems from the top. Plenty of other items you can criticize with this group, but Delta has a very good customer focus.

  10. As a medium-value customer on Delta (sadly necessary in certain cities where they used to have hubs), here’s all you need to know about Delta:

    1. Their performance numbers are mostly fiction.
    2. You -will- get stranded in Atlanta (or MSP or DTW) if you’re connecting. Just expect it.
    2. Their attitude to IRROPS is mostly ‘sit and spin’ unless you hold the highest status.
    3. Skymiles are worthless
    4. Their domestic first class is cramped and sad.
    5. Their transcon service is just as disappointing (unless you’re Nick.)
    6. Their lounges are sad -and- expensive
    7. The cookies are delicious

    What’s funny is, if they just -tried- to operate on the level of say, JetBlue, Virgin, Alaska, or even Southwest, I’d fly them exclusively. But no other airline embodies the ‘providing better service would hurt our profitability’ quite like Delta.

  11. They could have booked passengers on American without an ‘interline agreement’. It would have just cost them a lot of money. I guess it depends on how much customer loyalty is really worth. Same with Southwest a few weeks ago. They could have paid to put those passengers on other planes, they simply chose not to. They both clearly made a cost/benefit decision. While I understand why they made that decision, I am not going to pretend that they were completely powerless to help their customers get to where they were going.

  12. The biggest failure here is not having a back up system in a different geographic location (I.e. Minneapolis/Detroit/etc.)

    Doesn’t matter if you have state of the art back up system in the next room with gigantic 10,000 gallons gas tank, the biggest water tower in town, multiple generators, etc. All it tanks is a massive power outage or a tornado to render decimate your state of the art data center.

    This is why my company has 4 separate data centers with a dual set of PROD servers in each data center and each PROD set has its own data line, water tank for coolant, gas tank, electric system, and the list goes on. So in other words we have 8 fully equipped sets of servers (all identical) that is capable of running every application our company and clients uses.

    So in my opinion Delta (other airlines too) did not plan contingencies out well and it bit them in the butt. Not a freak occurrence – failures do happen, all about how well you anticipate the failure and put the BCP in motion.

  13. @Alpha

    Anyone who says “Skymiles are worthless” either is being ridiculous to make a point, or doesn’t know what he’s doing. Either way, it’s a good indicator the person’s opinion isn’t worth much

  14. I paid $150 for each of two children to travel as unaccompanied minors on Delta. They were to fly out from MSP to SFO on 8/8. When they arrived at the airport they were informed that not only will they not fly them out on 8/8 but that they could not fly out until 8/10. Despite how many people we spoke with they would not refund our ticket, pay for a ticket on another carrier, offer food, travel or lodging vouchers. Nothing! Just sorry. Meanwhile they offered all of these options to travellers who did not pay the additional $150 fee for Delta to get my children safely to their destination.

  15. Companies exist to maximize the share-holder’s value. The end.

    There is nothing wrong in expecting Delta to look after their image.

    I am sure the other domestic airlines would have followed suit.

    Don’t really understand the issue. Unfortunately, airlines, like any other business, have to maximize profits to remain in the competitive environment. The morality (note not legality) is not really the most important item and should not be expected. Once a person has accepted that, they will be in less turmoil.

    Speaking from over 40 years of frequent air travel in the US, watch your own back and create contingency plans. If on vacation, plan to include delays of a day on each end – not ideal I know and I am also aware that I am going to receive criticism for this. However, the alternative when it strikes as it did is far worse.

  16. My parents were set to fly the day after the outage. Incoming plane beat them to the airport. Parents checked in and were at the gate. 15 min before departure flight showed delayed 2.5 hours. DL was open with the reason, the incoming plane had a bird strike in an engine and needed maintenance. Flight was delayed another 2 hours. I told my parents to go see about a different flight for a nearby city that was about to leave, they chose to wait. Flight was cancelled 6 hours after departure time. Nothing was offered to the pax. My parents waited to rebook a flight (I was on the phone but automated message told of 3-5 hour wait, not sure if that was leftover from the day before). I had told them to demand compensation, which my mother finally did. Booked seats for the same flight the next day, free upgrade, $300 each travel vouchers. She got home and submitted an online complaint, 20k miles for each account. My frustrations are these. 1) DL did not proactively offer anything. Had they offered a smaller voucher amount upfront I’m sure most people would have been fine. 2) DL would have known, on decent, of the birdstrike. No word was give to anyone until 2 hours later. DL did a horrible job with customer service in this case, I can’t imagine the day before and that nightmare. Overall I like DL but they’re getting too ridiculous lately.

  17. @Dan Palangio
    That’s the kind “we’d love to make you happy and go the extra mile to minimize your disruption or at least buy goodwill, but our shareholders realize you don’t have any other options in Cincinnati so go piss up a rope” attitude sums up everything wrong with Delta and why flying them and the other legacy carriers (especially United during the Smisek era) is such a frustrating experience.

  18. @Alpha: What specifically is terrible about their transcon service? The flat beds in D1? The Westin Heavenly bedding and Tumi amenity kits? The free food and drinks in Comfort +? The free IFE at every seat?

    I’m with you that it’s not CX First Class, but not sure I’d describe JFK-LAX/SFO as disappointing.

  19. While I’m not necessarily surprised by the homogeneity of the demographic of individuals invited to complete their journeys via Delta Private Jets, I am surprised that Delta chose to share such a video. It doesn’t reflect well on the brand.

  20. @Alpha – as I said, I am not endorsing the business practices and as I definitely wish that business did not operate in this fashion, but unfortunately they do. We, as customers have little choice, but to deal with it in the best way possible. I share your pain since I live in the greater Cinci area as well. To be honest, I do what I can to fly UA just for the satisfaction that I at least deprived DL (albeit in my own small and probably insignificant way) of a premium ticket.

  21. How ever well traveled many people have little understanding of how systems work

    The lack of an interline agreement was irrelevant considering Delta could not rebook customers on anyone let alone their own partners, as the system was down which means staff had no access to bookings and an inability to reissue tickets

    If an airline doesn’t have an interline agreement how does one propose staff rebook passengers on for example , American ?

    They would have to go online to http://www.aa.com or to a sales counter and pay like any other customer

    I’m not sure how the delta staff would purchase tickets unless from their own pocket ?

    Bear in mind most low cost carriers such as Ryanair or Easyjet, do not have any interline agreements

    Total reliance on technology nowadays means any IT failure however small or short lived results in an inability to work

    Whatever systems are in place as back ups there is no 100% certainty they may not at some point ,fail

    People were angry upset and frustrated for sure but there are far far worse things happening around the world

  22. @Lucky,

    Long time lurker here, first of all, I have to commend you on this great site. Secondly, on a slightly tangential note, recently I’ve been hopping between several east coast cities for work. I’ve used a combination of United, Delta and American. And I’ve been shocked by the massive number of weather related cancellations which have seriously impacted my plans. Nearly all flights cancelled have been aboard Embraer aircraft. Any ideas on how to avoid these? For further reference, I prefer United over the others due to my Star Gold status.

  23. “A switchgear malfunctioned” – What is a “switchgear” and how does it take down software applications?

  24. Your post is a good review of Delta’s week and a fair criticism of where they fell down.

    I published a post on Tuesday morning using Delta’s situation as a reminder that all businesses need a customer service crisis plan. At the time, I gave them a pass because I felt they were handling the image issues pretty well.

    However, you make some great points about where the airline fell down as the problems continued. I’ve added a link to your post as an update to mine. (Here’s my post: http://www.toistersolutions.com/blog/2016/8/8/why-you-need-a-customer-service-crisis-plan)

  25. @James McGyver Bond….

    Basically a large electrical box with multiple fuses, disconnects and BUSes in built. Imagine the fuse box in your home but enlarged by a factor of 100-1000 with a single electrical source coming in.

  26. Let’s make sure we stick to facts here. Delta mentioned that the initial problem was caused by a power outage. How is that blaming the power provider? I don’t recall seeing any name-calling or identified provider being blamed for the power outage. Think about it – if you have too much hooked up at your home, enough to pop a breaker, you are going to have a power outage. Is that automatically the power providers fault? No – but Any loss of applications you may have would be as a result of a power outage – but your own fault. I think Delta made it clear later once they had time to look into it that it was self caused. But never blamed any power company for causing it – that was the media’s own interpretation. Sadly many of this blogs readers apparently fell for that, sucking up anything mentioned in the news. Is Delta to blame for it? Sure. Would Delta wish it would not have happened? Probably. But when evaluating, let stick to the facts and not media speculation and self inflicted probables.

  27. @Justin: phew! So glad the top <1% got taken care of. Think the revenue of the other 99% doesn't matter? I wouldn't trade any of it. Those 40 people arent going to carry delta's revenues year over year.

  28. Air Shite. Why anyone flies Delta is beyond me. Just like United, it’s a bunch of bitter stomping cows working the aisles, and a management that actually doesn’t care about the experience of the typical passenger. FF benefits are a joke, and they belong to a crap alliance whose best products (few and far between, but there is AF F) are out of reach.

  29. @Alpha
    >>
    1. Their performance numbers are mostly fiction.
    2. You -will- get stranded in Atlanta (or MSP or DTW) if you’re connecting. Just expect it.
    2. Their attitude to IRROPS is mostly ‘sit and spin’ unless you hold the highest status.
    3. Skymiles are worthless
    <<

    It's nice to see that somebody else "gets" the DL thing– They are great at PR, but for somebody to actually fly 50K-100K a year on EACH of the majors, you would NEVER conclude that DL is the best on anything.

    They are horrific, absolutely the worst, in IRROPS and extremely disingenuous on everything from seat assignments to cancellation rates to ontime performance.

    One revealing thing that came out of the flurry of sorta-true-but-not-fully communications from them this week was the revelation that they've actually had thousands of cancellations this year. Did all those people get $200 vouchers? Uh, no.

    I'll say it again– NON_ELITES, if you are listening, you absolutely do not want an E-Fare-Class on Delta on a week like this. In addition to the no-seat-assignment, No Pre-Check, drama of getting a seat… what you will find is that you are on the bottom of the Standby Lists forever once that initial flight gets canceled.

    Delta lies about this non-stop, but the way they treat "non-elite" people in IRROPS is inhuman.

  30. @Let’s stick to the truth

    If you really want to ‘stick to the truth’ then you need to be more rigorous with your analysis. From the first pronouncement, Bastian and the PR term could have told the truth: “We had a component failure in our data center that caused a cascading series of outages. We are working on it as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers.”

    What they actually said was “We experienced a power outage”, thus omitting the relevant information that this wasn’t due to the GA Power grid, nor external loss of electrical supply.

    An intentional omission of fact is a lie nevertheless. They chose those words to cleverly (they think) deflect responsibility. That’s nuts, but it’s part of the culture at DL. Deflect, Deny, Distort, Repeat. The company’s been run by PR people and lawyers since the merger. This is what you get.

    Ben’s talking up their communications “Rah rah our people are working hard…” when they stranded a half-million people. The $200 is very inadequate when you are stranded for days, missing meetings, family events and commitments.

    FlyerRights is correct– we need a True Passenger Bill of Rights.

  31. “While front line employees have been going above and beyond to accommodate passengers, the high level decisions Delta has made during this outage have been disappointing.” No kidding?

    If the high level decisions had been made prior to the outage, there would not have been an outage. I have been in the computer-biz for over thirty years and I have repeatly seen “C-Level” management bury their head in the sand when they have to make expensive “system administration” decisions. Computer system administration is one of the “indispensable but unproductive” aspects of a business that they just do not understand or like.

    The Y2K problem was ignored for years until the corporate lawyers told the CEOs that they would be personally liable, if their computer systems failed on 1 January 2000. It was at that point they woke up and the money started flowing. There was so much money that it was obscene.

    In the case of Delta, regardless of the actual case of the outage (i.e., UPS, fire, deployment without testing, etc.), the root cause is C-Level management compliancy.

  32. I was booked on an early morning flight Monday, east to west coast with a stop in Detroit. Delta rebooked me on United and I got in two hours later than originally planned. Seemed like they handled it fine to me.

  33. @Lucky- in millions of miles, I’ve never been treated as badly as delta treated me this time. I had a flight from EWR-SLC-WYS for vacation. Booked in revenue first class. When the outage occurred, it was 7am and the flight was supposed to leave at 8. So they call me over, and rebook me on a United itinerary to IDA 12 hours later, in coach. That’s a two hour drive from WYS. Not only wouldn’t they pay for the rental car or my 12 hour delay, they made me pay the fare difference, since full fare coach was more expensive than my discounted first ticket on delta. They made me go out to some warehouse and find my checked bag among everyone’s bag. Took an hour and a half. So, I check in with United, and then they gave a boarding time for my original delta flight! I run back over to the Delta counter, and they absolutely refused to re-rebook me. Refused! They even made a Jewish comment about how I’m the one who didn’t want to pay the fare difference. An actual Cheap Jew comment! So, my original flight gets to WYS about two hours late. Meantime, I spend the day in EWR, then arrive in WYS 12 hours late after a two hour drive that I had to pay for. What assholes, man. It’ll be a while before I can look at a delta uniform without cursing

  34. @DSA

    Sorry you had such a tough experience with DL; it’s not exactly atypical.
    When those first “announcements” came out (even the first one blaming a “power outage”) one of the most obvious ‘eye-popper’ assertions was that passengers would be on-the-hook for “fare differences”.

    I’m not aware of ANY other airline, in IRROPS conditions, that would immediately start talking about how the inconvenienced passengers would be clipped for ‘fare differences”… Even as bad as UA, SWA and AA can now be on a rough IRROPS day, I’ve never heard any of their agents even hint at paying ‘fare differences’ in cases where a mechanical/system or other airline-culpable issue was implicated.
    The only priority is getting the jam relieved and moving passengers on to their destinations. Period. That’s never the case with DL, where priority is given to dinging their “non-elite” passengers.

    And, with that you once again you see the core cultural issue with DL– the only constituency they care about keeping happy (other than the management bonus pools) is the stock market community. Really. Every announcement they make (“We flew a bunch of our best customers on our private jet fleet!” “We are working so hard!”) is tailored to the finance community, not to the rank and file passenger that just wants to get home to a job or a family event.

  35. @tachyon
    I had a first class ticket, I should have been treated better. I’m aware of the stress they were under, but refusing to put me back in the seat I’d been booked in 45 minutes earlier seems way too lazy, and the anti-Jewish comments were just gratuitous. They gave me 25k miles as an apology, but I have half a mind to tell them to choke on my cock and wait for my lawyer’s letter

  36. Tangential but a little off topic: As an IT executive of a very large international company, I’ve been following this issue with Delta quite closely. If nothing else, it highlights what many companies fear going through.

    You asked the question: “How can the world’s second largest airline be reliant on a single piece of technology?” Though I don’t know Delta’s situation specifically, I can tell you I’ve been at many large companies who could have been in this same situation because they choose not to make investments in backup technology. There’s a risk-reward for making sizable investments that are mostly insurance policies against large outages. Many companies don’t want to spend the millions of dollars on this equipment or staff, and even if you do make the investment, you actually need to run a “disaster recovery” test at least once a year to see if your technology, process and people are ready to handle things.

    Almost every company out there relies heavily on technology today – this blog being a great example. You hope that nothing catastrophic happens, but it will. It’s only a matter of time. I tell people all the time there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and your technology will fail. It just depends on how bad the failure will be, how quickly you can restore services and business to normal, and how much it will cost you in lost revenue and brand. Again, I don’t know Delta’s specific situation, but surely they would have paid far less in more investment in technology, people and process versus the fallout of what they’re going through now.

    Until the next major outage…

  37. @DSA

    I’m really sorry. That is appalling. Whether you were “F” or “E” class ticketed, that sort of behavior is simply intolerable.

    And, it does raise the question for me: If the denied boarding compensation statute kicks in when, through over-optimism, DL sells 185 seats for a 175 seat plane and you aren’t able to get where you paid to go in the timeframe you intended to get there…. why doesn’t the same thing apply when, through over-optimism by DL’s IT/systems guy, a single-point-failure grounds the fleet and you aren’t able to get where you paid to go in the timeframe you intended to get there?

    Personally, with the sheer number of times DL has delayed me over 5 hours (and in many cases overnight) in last 24 months, I’d have several thousand dollars worth of EU-style compensation (plus hotel and meals, of course). I just don’t understand how a few people will get $200 “vouchers” on this one incident– and somehow that makes a half-million passengers whole??? It doesn’t compute for me.

    “Delta screws up? Delta Pays Up…” should be the guiding principle. Hopefully a few Senators/Representatives got tied up in the mess this time and the Congress will finally take up legislation to put us on equal footing with the EU regulations.

  38. @Todd–

    I have to believe part of it tracks back to ‘culture’…. DL’s PR team basically manufactured the “We never cancel flights” thing. And the whole company apparently bought into their own Bull Excrement.

    They insisted they “never cancel flights” (Although I giggled the last time I was in HNL and the board listed a DL flight as “still at the gate” after a 22 hour ‘delay’. I think to the passengers, whole likely all bailed for other flights, that after 12 hours of sitting there, well it’s as good as a cancellation…) even though they’d canceled thousands in 2016, even before last week***

    That’s why they terminated the Interline Agreement with AA– DL was convinced they were being used. Wonder if they think that this week?

    DL continued to insist their ‘ontime percentage’ was 10 points higher than the others… I believe this is also manufactured. The last time DL stranded me at BWI, I had extra time to check the “ontime” rating for all the alternatives onward legs to MSP and DTW. DL’s site insisted they were all 90-100% ontime. FlightStats and FlightAware both showed them between 60-70%. So, yeah, I would NOT stake my life on ANYTHING Delta says.

    They, though, appeared to think they were invincible and burned a lot of lifelines that could have prevented or ameliorated some of the pain last week. Including a full back-up contingency program.

    Tachyon

    *** This reminds me, anyone else ever marvel at the series of “A Delta Passenger shows up for his flight and finds he is the only passenger?” stories on cable news? I think, in the context of the DL PR line “We never cancel flights”, this makes total sense– most sane passengers bail on these really late DL “non-canceled cancellations”, so DL gets more than their share of “Gee only one passenger on a big jet” stories. It’s more than an oddity– it’s the way DL manipulates their stats to ‘look better’ even when it’s worse for the Pax.

  39. @ Todd

    Lest anyone think I’m making up the “Delta flies only one passenger stories”, here are multiple examples:

    From 2016:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/man-is-the-only-passenger-on-a-160-seater-delta-flight-a7107571.html

    From 2015:
    http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/13/travel/man-alone-delta-flight-feat/

    From 2014:
    The “big data” lie that gave rise to all this DL game-playing
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/how-delta-masters-the-game-of-overbooking-flights/

  40. @Alpha

    Their cookies are delicious.
    And:
    1. They’ve stopped serving them on some flights. My recent DL <700 mile trips have not featured them!
    2. One can buy them w/o the Delta branding in fairly large quantities at the giant-box membership stores.

    So I now recommend that we all book whatever airline has the best combination of fare & schedule, and cater our own cookies in flight!

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