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Planes, People And Policies

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Planes and people and more!

Planes and people and more!

I travel by air for a client in Ohio during the winter months when driving would be risky due to snow, ice, a possible polar vortex and other weather related calamities.    I recently had an encounter with Delta airlines that would test their commitment to customer service.  Let me tell you the story then I will give you my Monday morning quarterback view of it.  Read more about Delta here.

I did preliminary month end work from my home office before travelling in January and had a nice head start but I had a lot of extra things to do related to year-end requirements so I booked my travel knowing  I might get done early if all went well.  Things went well and I was able to leave a day early but I never investigated the specifics of changing a flight.

I went online to the Delta website and finally found the page about changing flights.   It was not very clear to me what I had to do to get the ball rolling so after looking for a bit I became impatient and called the 800 number to talk someone about it. I stayed on the page while I was on hold to continue to look and just about the same time someone picked up the phone I found what I was looking for on the website.  A change fee for a domestic economy flight was $200. Yikes, I thought to myself.  As the Delta employee came on the phone I explained my situation and he quickly told me about the $200 fee.

I was crestfallen.  I told him that since the fee was $200 I would just take my original flight.  Before another word was spoken he chimed in that he noticed that I was a frequent flier and had been since 2011.  He also said that as frequent flier he would waive that fee as a reward for my loyalty to Delta.  I was no longer crestfallen.

He made the changes and sent me an email with my new flight arrangements and I proceeded to check in and print my boarding pass.  This was very cool I thought and also was glad I decided to register as a frequent flier even though I only fly about 3 times a year.  Now, a couple of points on what we can learn from this:

The $200 change fee policy is available for everyone to see and since those are the rules I had to live by them.  You might say that the fee is excessive and I would agree but it seems reasonable to charge at least some fee.  I would imagine that on flights that are prime routes they would be less likely to waive a fee – even if a seat was available.  My thought on this is why set a fee that seems too unreasonable?  Is it to discourage changing flights or is it because people will accept the fee and pay it with asking?  Are the people who pay the fee subsidizing people like me who question it and then Delta can appear to be generous on their dime – or should I say on their $200?  I don’t know the answer but I give credit to Delta for what they did.

Another thing we business owners need to do is view our policies from the customer’s eyes.  We need to find the right balance between recovering our costs or lost revenues with being too heavy-handed and risk losing a customer.  Even if we take a little bit o f a financial hit, the goodwill we gain may be well worth it.  A happy, loyal customer that spreads the news about our customer friendly company is very valuable advertising.  Think about the long-term benefits outweighing the short-term cost.  Delta is getting some good, free advertising right now.

Have a great week.  I did, courtesy of my all time, best ever airline – Delta.




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