If you have ever flown in and out of “The ATL” or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (and who hasn’t, if you fly Delta), you know your odds of landing at one end of a concourse, having to walk to its center, take an escalator down, ride the Plane Train, then walk to the end of the new concourse are very good. (“Very good” is an ironic term – unless you enjoy walking among thousands of other travelers for fun.)
On the flip side, I normally don’t mind this because it is nice to stretch your legs and walk a bit between flights.
But it is less enjoyable if you have a tight connection and the Fly Delta app alerts you that boarding is underway.
What is always a treat, at ATL or other airports, is to see a Porsche pulled up as your plane approaches the gate.
You can then look forward to a nice Delta person with a sign with a name on it. Every Delta top elite scans this sign as they walk off, hoping theirs is the one on it. Personally, I have had rides at a number of Delta hubs — yet never in ATL yet.
You can not request a ride nor pay for the service (you sorta could back in the day via Twitter) so it really is up to Delta to choose to be nice to you.
But are there ways to improve your shot for a ride?
- The first one is to be a Delta 360* member. I know for a huge majority of those reading these words, you are not going to spend over $100,000 on Delta tickets this year so this is a nonstarter. But if you are a 360* your chance for a ride are much greater than everyone else.
- The next one is more attainable: having more than one Diamond Medallion member on your reservation. My times scoring a ride were much higher when a number of us held elite Diamond status
- Fly a lot as a top elite. This sounds rather simple — but if you are flying all the time, the chances any given week you will get a ride clearly goes up just because of the numbers. When I was flying almost every week, I almost “expected” to see my name on the tablet.
- Pay for VIP service. Few talk about it but you can get escorted from gate to gate for a fee as well as from check-in to the gate. I have never paid for this as I just don’t see the value but if you are on a premium fare and have the VIP service, your shot at a ride improves. Just don’t expect it as you may get an escorted walk or even a Go-Cart ride instead.
- Cross Million Miler during your trip. Now, before the comments blow up yelling at me with something like, “When I crossed Million Miler with Delta all I got was a form e-mail from Ed,” I want to point out this gives you a shot at the ride. I mean, Delta reps just about every time I talk to them thank me for being a Million Miler.
So reviewing the above, you are saying it is highly unlikely to get a ride?
Well, yes, that is true. This really is only a perk for those who “donate” a ton of cash to Delta or those who fly a ton.
Now, that said, I wanted to go my way on this post a bit and share the things I would love to see Delta do to improve the gate-to-gate experience and give more the chance for a ride. And since Delta folks do read the blog, maybe we have a chance of some of these becoming real one day (well, maybe anyway)!
- Offer a ride as a Choice Benefit.
- I would much rather pick something more valuable than this — but I can see this as a win-win for both flyers and Delta. If you travel during a special occasion (an anniversary, etc.), a Porsche ride could make it much more special. For Delta, rather than deposit 20,000 SkyPennies (or whatever) they can simply send a car. It costs them barely anything.
- Sell it as an upcharge.
- Delta loves upselling First Class and Delta One seats — why not add Porsche rides? This could be a huge money maker for Delta if they price it right. Why not charge $500 per person? I am sure those who have the funds would pay for this and not think twice. I would never pay for this. But I am not the target audience for this type of expensive service.
- Offer one ride per year for the American Express Reserve Cards.
- If you have not noticed recently this high-end card, both the personal and business one, have a rather hefty yearly fee. Rather than offer guest passes into the Sky Clubs, why not offer a ride instead? I think it would “drive ” more card sales! 🙂
- Make it a Million Miler perk.
- Right now, the biggest perks for reaching Delta Million Miler are “lifetime” (read: annual) status with the airline and a choice of either a large Delta credit voucher or some other low-value choices. Adding a one-time ride would show the company really cares more than words alone. A one-time ride for each million flown seems smart to me.
These are my “brilliant” ideas and I think most of them could drive real revenue for Delta and do something to improve customer loyalty and this really is needed now that the SkyPennies program has dropped so low in value. Do you agree?
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