Dear Delta Airlines,
It is with great regret that I write this letter. For years I have been loyal to you as you helped me in a pressing time when my grandfather passed away. It was during a United strike back in '99 and the lines at Delta in DIA were absurd. I arrived 5 hours prior to my flight and one of your gate agents graciously worked diligently and ardently to get my reservation changed. She issued my ticket from DEN to JFK and said she would need more time to work on the JFK to ARN portion. Even after the delay of flight coming in to Denver and serious headwinds, we made it to New York with minutes to spare on my connection. I raced fervently to get to my gate and to my surprise, sitting on the counter at the gate with a smiling agent, was my ticket, confirmed from JFK to ARN (Stockholm).
It is now 2010 and I was happy to have made silver medallion in 2008. It seemed that I had hit the big leagues and was given really cool bag tags and a silver FF card which gave me great privileges, such as potential upgrades (if available), a special number to call in to get preferential treatment on flight rebookings (if needed) and priority boarding). Wow, I must admit that I was slightly excited and felt like a somebody.
This past week I flew to Miami, on your airline of course, because I have a choice, and I choose Delta. I began reading in your #sky magazine about the new changes that were/are taking place with the frequent flyer program. At no point was silver medallion mentioned. The new classification is Diamond, Platinum and Gold. I don't even get special boarding priority anymore, as I was told by one of your gate agents. Basically I was moved to the bottom rung to make way for the Northwest FF that had higher status than me. I guess the easiest thing to do was to raise the bar and get rid of the "measly" little 25,000 mile flyers to make way for the 125,000, 75,000 and 50,000 milers that spend money on your airline. I get it, its business as usual and you have to accommodate your new members and make them feel welcome.
My father started with you guys in '57 and dedicated his life to the travel career. I had the opportunity to work and help him open his last agency in '92. He always pushed Delta and unfortunately, like so many others was swept under the rug when the newest technology "the internet" reared its head. It made sense to give the public what they wanted and let them book their own tickets and remove the commission that you paid to agents for recommending your airline. My father gave his life to the industry and was a consistent if not high producer and was treated harshly during his last years as he struggled to change his business model. He passed away and unfortunately like so many others, his life seemed to go un-noticed
Almost 12 years since my fathers passing, and I begin to see the trend, that you and all other airlines start to adopt. You begin to move away from the customer service model and move towards the "bigger is better" motto. Bottom line, bottom line, bottom line! You have shareholders to appease…I get it. I have a suggestion for you, start focusing on customer service and listening to everyone, including the little guy, not just the Diamond medallion members. Customer service is all we have to offer in these trying times and it may become our only selling point in years to come. Become great by focusing on the people that make your airline great, your people and the people that fly your airline. Make them feel appreciated and respected. Its all you have and all you will ever have, mark my words, your bottom line will be better than you ever imagined if you do.
Its because of the lack of customer service and the lack of concern for me, the little 25,000 mile flier per year, that I am choosing to become un-loyal. I am choosing to fly based on who can get me there the cheapest and the fastest. No more loyalty to one particular airline or brand, until that brand shows me that they care. I wish you the best in your future endeavor. I am just 1 in your (massive) 12 million that fly you per month (that number may be higher since the figures were taken off a september 2009 report). I may not matter, but I guarantee, there are others who will agree with me. Go back to your roots and figure what really makes you great or any company for that matter…Customer satisfaction.
Thank you for your time and I am sure you will have no problem filling my seat on your planes.
(This was posted to Delta's customer service department, which is probably in India somewhere and will be read and responded to by a script, based on key words in my letter)
until next time...