19 April 2011

I love you Delta Airlines

I've been a fan of Delta Airlines for quite some time but on Sunday they did something for me that I can't imagine any other airline doing.

I fly to New York between three and four times a year and Delta has a flight that leaves Tampa at 7am and lands at LaGuardia at 9:30. It''s like time travel that flight. I wake up in my own bed but can be walking down Fifth Avenue by ten in the morning. I loathe early morning flights as a rule but with that particular flight, I can fly up on a Friday morning, go to meetings all day and then have the weekend to just be in New York.

I have a speaking engagement in New York on April 30th. I'll be sitting in a roundtable discussion at the annual meeting of the American Society of Journalists and Authors at the Roosevelt Hotel (if you're in New York please come!) Sitting at that table with me will be Dominique Browning, former editor of  House and Garden, Michael Cannell from the New York Times House and Home section, David Farley from the New York Times, the Washington Post and National Geographic Traveler and Saxon Henry who's published more work than any of us combined. And oh yeah, then there's little old me, the internet guy from St. Pete. No pressure.

Anyhow, I went to go buy my airline tickets for this conference on Sunday after I paid my taxes. I'm a Delta frequent flyer so I went to their site immediately rather than deal with Expedia. I booked my ticket for a departure on 4/29 and a return on 5/2.

As soon as I approved of the transaction I realized that I have a meeting in New York on 5/2 and that I meant to fly home on 5/3. Crap!

Changing a flight after booking carries a $150 charge and I was already on edge from the fact that my TPA to LGA flight cost $50 more than it usually does.

Three minutes after I booked that flight I called Delta's customer service number and was connected with a human being immediately. On the other end of the line was Hilary, someone who deserves a raise and a commendation. I explained to Hilary that I'd just booked myself on a return flight for the wrong day and that I needed to change a three-minute-old transaction.

She told me not to worry, that she'd take care of everything. She waived the change fee with the wave of her hand and proceeded to cancel my old reservation. She booked me on a new return flight, seated me in the aisle both ways and saved me five dollars in the process.

I was already a fan of Delta Airlines but Hilary made me a raving, rabid fan. I cannot imagine another airline that would forgo a handful of fees to make a customer happy.

Thank you Delta, you saved my long weekend in New York and you've earned the distinction as the official domestic carrier of Kitchen and Residential Design.

Besides, they have a safety video that's actually worth watching:

Pay attention to when she warns the audience about smoking on the airplane. Priceless!


  1. It's nice to hear something like this amid all the nightmare stories!

  2. I love Delta too... I loved Northwest before them mostly because they are the most professional of all US domestic airlines. Unlike you, I prefer early morning flights.

    Mostly, people who have problems with airlines, especially those with the professional caliber of Delta, have problems with almost everything else in their lives because they have not learned the art and science of mutual respect. They pay rock-bottom rates and think they are entitled to be treated like the kings they ain't. They are oblivious to the humanity of the flight and ground crews, they are unempathetic to the other passengers around them and they believe humanity trumps nature. In short, they create their own customer service hell. And then they knee-jerk tweet about it like the entitled bastards they are. But enough about my pack :-)

    I'll just continue to be amazed with and appreciative of the technology and science that got us from a Wright Brothers rickety old glider with a mower engine strapped onto it to a jet that can take me from Dayton to NYC in 1 1/2 hours in fewer than 100 years. Amazing if you took a few minutes to think about it.

    And that no smoking on the video? That is SOOOO Joanie on Mad Men :-)

    1. Rufus that was very well said. You've just described the "world's most special passenger" better than I could have ever imagined anyone doing so. It's nice to know someone else out there shares my frustration at the way some people just seriously NEVER learn that art and science you mentioned. You're awesome man.

  3. Melody: I have never had a bad experience on a Delta flight. If paying to check a bag is what I have to do to be treated like a human being on a flight that will take off on schedule and land on schedule then so be it.

    Rufus: Amen. Airline customers create their own bad experiences.

  4. I love the shake of the finger in that video. On the other hand, and I am a Delta Frequent Flyer & former medallion member, they have lost my luggage 4 times and no other carrier ever has. Once on a non stop flight from KC to Cinci, my luggage ended up in Bangor, Maine- no lie. And another time for 4 days while I was in Italy. No fun. I'll pay their fee if it actually gets there. (although you can check a bag free if you pay with the Delta AmEx) Our family joke is Delta stands for "Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive"

  5. Ouch. Mercifully, that's never happened to me.

  6. With Alaska Airlines, you have until midnight Pacific time on the day *after* your reservation, to cancel a purchased ticket. That's for everyone, not just the Special People. :) From when I last traveled a lot, actually, most airlines had a 24h grace period. It's been a few years, so obviously that might have changed like many other things in the airline industry!

  7. I'm a Delta frequent flier myself, typically via Alaskan Airlines because they are THE only airline that has a nonstop San Diego to Portland flight. Over the last year I've booked 12 or 14 flights through them (not just to Portland but also to North Carolina and Atlanta) and haven't yet had issues with their service. As an aside, I was scheduled to be in Portland for several meeting one week; as luck would have it something did not agree with me and I ended up with a stomach bug that would keep me from making my appointments. I had already checked into the flight via the online portal but thought I'd give them a ring to see if they could change my flight or credit...anything really. IN the end, Delta took care of the entire flight and refunded it back to my Amex that day, no charges, fees, etc. Maybe sometimes its about who you end up talking to but I will continue to fly with them for that very reason.


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