An American Airlines flight attendant, who I have now chosen to block on twitter, tweeted the above. Really? Gosh this sounds so familiar to me. In fact, it sounds very much like a tweet you will find HERE in my fellow blogger Gary’s post in A View From the Wing blog:
Too many customers. Too many elites. Too many flyers who are paying for tickets and expecting too darn much from an airline. Yes, I can see this is a major problem!
Just think how much less of a problem an airline would have if they did not have pesky customers, including elites, expecting things. Boy, that would make for a smooth running airline would it not?
Even Delta Air Lines had their own marketing blunder a few years back. And yes, Delta has tons of elites at every medallion level but they appreciate all of them (well, they sorta appreciate Silver Medallions, just not as much as the rest of the group). Also, they have made changes so ONLY those who spend the most are able to reach top elite status.
The point is that in any business the customer should never be viewed, under any set of circumstances, as a problem. The age old adage that the “customer is always right” really is true even when it comes to airlines. Delta takes this very seriously and especially so for those who are HVC or high value customers, that is, their elites. And rightly so since elites are a large part of all the income an airline earns.
Delta has a secret elite level above Diamond Medallion elites (their top published elite level). Delta calls this group of chosen members Delta360 elites and these are the ones who spend a ton of money each year with Delta (or the year before). While you cannot read a list of all the perks these elites get, since they are not published, we have an idea what they get. Things like always getting an upgrade on any fare class is common I am told by those who are or have been members (this includes traveling companions). A private phone line to call and every time you travel your flights are monitored by an individual representative from Delta. Are you running late and have a tight connection? You can expect a Delta Porsche waiting to whisk you to your next flight and the door will not close until you get there. Nice.
Now can any traveler ever NOT be worth it? Sure there are those who cause serious disruptions, but that is not your normal customer. Any normal person is a worthwhile customer. Even if they are on an E class BASIC ticket they are still of value to Delta. So much so that they are expanding these cheap offerings of ultra low cost fares (but limiting elite perks if you happen to be an elite who buys one). So Delta feels your “worth” is less to them if you are buying cheap and yet they still want to sell you a ticket and have you fly the airline.
Due to this I personally will never buy one of these BASIC fares but elites like me, at any level, who practice this type of buying behavior drive more profit to the airline. We value being an elite and value the special service we get for these financial choices. And guess what, Delta values us back.
Others can work around a few of these E class restrictions. If they happen to have the Delta AMEX Gold, Platinum or Reserve credit card they can retain many of the perks others do not have on these ultra low fares. Thus, Delta values your relationship highly with their partner AMEX and rewards you for this type of behavior. Very smart.
The bottom line is any airline, or an airline employee for that matter, feels that a customer has become or is “the” problem it is not thinking right. Viewing an elite who has perhaps spent thousands of dollars and supported an airline by always buying every ticket with that airline as a “problem” is bad for business. Not appreciating a customer who also supports airline partners like in Delta’s case American Express or the many other auto and hotel partners is also a real problem. All these also drive profits to the airline.
I guess it is time for you to tell me. Vote in my poll below and we shall see if I am in left field here as well as Delta.
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