Archive for February, 2011
That’s right folks – I gave Delta another chance after they automagically activated my SkyMiles account the day after I blogged about my experience. And I must say that going into the experience on purpose without letting previous experiences play into my perception of this trip, I was quite impressed. If you didn’t read about my previous experiences, you can check them out here.
I realized at the VERY last minute I could squeeze in a trip to see my family at Christmas. I haven’t gotten to see my family anywhere closer than 2 weeks from Christmas in 5 years. I’m surprised after my experiences I trusted Delta to actually make it happen, but I did.
This time, not one employee was rude. Not one employee looked like they were unhappy to be employed. Now – there were some parts of my experience that would have made many people upset, especially at the holidays. But when things happen beyond the control of the airline and its employees, that is absolutely not a problem for me. I’m the first to understand the circumstances that can surround a situation that ultimately disappoints a customer. As long as an employee or the company weren’t negligent in trying to do the best they can, it is absolutely impossible to get me upset with a company. Previously, the problem was the employees, even though the rest of the experience went off without a hitch. This time, although there were problems getting where I needed to be on time, I didn’t mind. Why? Because I was surrounded by happy accommodating people.
I flew out after a big snowstorm that turned to freezing rain during the night and morning before my flight. I was on the plane for over an hour before we were de-iced and took off. We had flight attendants that went up and down the aisles during the delay making small talk and pointing out what was going on outside during the de-icing process to help us understand what was going on. Unfortunately for many people set to travel that day, a lot didn’t make it to the airport due to the weather, but fortunately for those of us who did make it, the flight was thusly half empty.
I got to Charlotte not too long after I should have in the first place. I had a really wonderful time. Of course, my family thought I was crazy for not wearing a jacket most of the time. I came from the land of -20s to the land of 30s – I almost wanted to sunbathe!
In a few days, it was time to head back to the airport for the trek home. I was to be at the “in-law’s” later that day, but since It was beautiful warm weather I wasn’t worried at all. However, the weather in Minneapolis caused a very significant delay, as the plane set to take us there couldn’t fly down to pick us up in time. I assume this is the reason for the delays as the gate agents never said any reason whatsoever, but only provided the updated departure times. However, there was de-icer on the plane windows, so it seems logical the Minneapolis weather was to blame. I was glad I booked through Orbitz, since I got text alerts of the delays and gate change about 5-10 minutes before the announcements from the gate agent. After 3 delays and a gate change, we were finally off the ground a few hours late and on the way home. As with the previous flight, the flight crew couldn’t have been more warm and accommodating. I got home quite late, but got to the in-law’s in pretty good time. I was satisfied even though I was delayed, thanks to the great service.
Within a couple days, I got a survey asking me to provide feedback on my flight since it was delayed. A couple more days and I got a letter from the Director of Customer Care letting me know they credited my SkyMiles account an amount to hopefully make up for the delay on Christmas Eve. What does this say to me? They know they have work to do, and they’re listening. I filled out the survey giving my most honest, unemotional feedback. I know my individual rankings on service may not make a huge impact, but assuming I help increase the sample size, I know that butterflies can change the wind. I never expected the extra SkyMiles, but boy did they make my perception even better. I know it was a form letter, but providing the make good offer based on my delay on likely the most frustrating travel day of the year proves to me they are willing to own up to poor experiences, possibly even those that aren’t their own fault.
I should add that probably the biggest reason for the difference in this experience is that both flights were operated by Comair from Ohio as “Delta Connection” flights. Delta should really take a close look at the small Midwestern carrier as possibly its only hope to ever regain the customers who now hate them post NWA merger. I’m absolutely as likely to choose a flight I know will be operated by Comair as I would have been NWA. I’m still not so sure Delta will ever be able to care enough about their customers to come close to NWA, but at least they’re trying. If you didn’t see, they’re sending all their employees through remedial training on customer service (http://online.wsj.com/article/the_middle_seat.html). If all of their flight attendants could make people feel as comfortable, happy, and relaxed as we all were on my two flights, they’ll be in a really good spot. That burden may rest on the shoulders of the smaller regional carriers with possibly more to lose than the larger Delta. I’m willing to work with a company that’s trying, and I now know that they are. Here’s hoping for a better future for the experience of their customers.
Now, if only their ad campaigns would stop touting what I would consider the price of admission for their company, and start telling us why they’re actually worth giving a chance…