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Speculation: Delta Growing, Improving Coach Experience. Will AA Respond?

Speculation: Delta Growing, Improving Coach Experience. Will AA Respond?

Old Oct 16, 19, 10:25 am
  #1  
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Speculation: Delta Growing, Improving Coach Experience. Will AA Respond?

I know that many FTers like to "joke" that AA likes to follow/copy Delta as part of their corporate "strategy". There have been a couple of recent developments from Delta that I wonder if AA is going match, but I guess we'll see.

1) Delta to hire 12,000, including pilots, flight attendants and ground staff. From https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/10/delt...-ceo-says.html

"Delta Air Lines is expanding its workforce this year and next by 12,000 as the airline expands its operations.

“We’re hiring pilots, we’re hiring flight attendants, we’re hiring ground staff. We’re hiring in all categories of the company,” CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re the process of hiring 6,000 people this year and at least a like amount next year.” "

2) Delta is improving or keeping a better coach experience as a competitive advantage. From WSJ- (requires subscription) https://www.wsj.com/articles/imagine...d=hp_lead_pos8

"Delta Air Lines is launching a significant upgrade to coach meal service on long international flights on Nov. 5. Passengers in the back of the plane will get free welcome cocktails, hot towels, printed menus, place mats, a choice of appetizers and separate dessert service. Portions will be bigger, too.

“We have not changed our service in 20 years in the main cabin. This is just a glaring opportunity for us,” says Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service."



"Now Delta thinks upgrading coach can provide a competitive advantage over crummier offerings at competitors. The new food service will cost the company more—Delta isn’t saying how much. The airline does say it’s spending $1 billion overall on improving the customer experience, including in-flight entertainment screens and other amenities."



"Delta has refrained from much of the seat-row shrinkage in coach that other airlines have pushed. Most Delta coach seats are in rows 31 inches deep, with a few laid out at 30 inches of space, including the seat. American and United have gone to 30 inches as their new standard. On a Boeing 737-800, Delta has 160 seats. American is now putting 172 seats into the same airplane and United 166.

Delta also has refrained from putting skinnier coach seats in its Boeing 777s, a long-flight workhorse. United, American and several other carriers around the world have put 10 seats, 17 inches wide, in coach rows on the 777. Delta has stuck with nine seats abreast, each 18 inches wide."



I personally believe that the improved service, more leg room etc. will help Delta maintain it's current position as the profit leader among the US3, which was also covered in the WSJ article.



"It does appear to be paying off. In the first half of 2019, the amount passengers paid, on average, to fly one mile on Delta was almost 9% higher than United’s and 2% higher than American’s, according to the airlines’ earnings statements. Delta’s profit in that period was almost as much as United and American earned combined. Delta earned more than American and United combined in 2018."







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Old Oct 16, 19, 10:52 am
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As a long time EXP, it pains me to say this: The fast and short answer to this is: that they won't. AA's model is now the bargain basement formula. Race to the bottom in terms of service, and standards, Cut/disregard the loyalty of flyers like myself. IMO, when Mr. Parker took over... he pulled a fast one, and by some corporate quirk I don't understand, managed to install himself as the king pin of AA. Again, IMO, US Airways was woefully inadequate in terms of planes, service and just about every other measure under his 'leadership', yet Parker emerged on top. - The mistake, again IMO, is that airlines will cater to the corporations that fly employees under contracted terms. That's all fine and good as long as things remain healthy, but give the world economy a hiccup -- and those flyers are gone. Raise oil prices, or ??? --- Whose left then? people like me who were flying in empty planes after 911. As I've stated privately and publicly, I am no longer chasing AA status, and have shifted my spending elsewhere. I'll now buy the seat I want, when I want, on the airline that offers me the most for the best price, and leave the hollow remnants of the chase to others. -- The tide will turn eventually, and if the waters are then to my liking, I may dip my toes. Till then, I'll go as above. Cheers!
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Old Oct 16, 19, 10:58 am
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Not a criticism of the OP, just of the article but:

“We’re hiring pilots, we’re hiring flight attendants, we’re hiring ground staff. We’re hiring in all categories of the company,” CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We’re the process of hiring 6,000 people this year and at least a like amount next year.” "

does not mean

Delta Air Lines is expanding its workforce this year and next by 12,000 as the airline expands its operations.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:05 am
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Has AA ever matched an improvement?

Here's my prediction: even less choice of meals onboard, but they will add more restaurants to their mobile app. "Our customers are no longer satisfied with the old airline choices of 'beef' or 'pasta.' Their sophisticated palates demand better food choices, and our mobile apps for iOS and Android allow them to place orders from our curated list of 30,000 of the world's best airport restaurants - from Chickie and Pete's to Torta Frontera. Starting tomorrow, we will also give our most loyal customers (Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro) an e-coupon good for 10% off their first order. And for a limited time, customers who sign up for the award-winning Barclay's Aviator Card will be eligible to receive a coupon for $5 off a $40 purchase."
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:06 am
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AA only follows the negative changes DL makes
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:08 am
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Originally Posted by gajs View Post
As a long time EXP, it pains me to say this: The fast and short answer to this is: that they won't. AA's model is now the bargain basement formula. Race to the bottom in terms of service, and standards, Cut/disregard the loyalty of flyers like myself. IMO, when Mr. Parker took over... he pulled a fast one, and by some corporate quirk I don't understand, managed to install himself as the king pin of AA. Again, IMO, US Airways was woefully inadequate in terms of planes, service and just about every other measure under his 'leadership', yet Parker emerged on top. - The mistake, again IMO, is that airlines will cater to the corporations that fly employees under contracted terms. That's all fine and good as long as things remain healthy, but give the world economy a hiccup -- and those flyers are gone. Raise oil prices, or ??? --- Whose left then? people like me who were flying in empty planes after 911. As I've stated privately and publicly, I am no longer chasing AA status, and have shifted my spending elsewhere. I'll now buy the seat I want, when I want, on the airline that offers me the most for the best price, and leave the hollow remnants of the chase to others. -- The tide will turn eventually, and if the waters are then to my liking, I may dip my toes. Till then, I'll go as above. Cheers!
I've already booked enough 2020 travel to requal EXP, but I am also going to pick up Star Gold and once my 100k is done on AA I will go free agent for the rest of the year. I will fly over 200k EQM with AA this year, so it's a significant cut.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:20 am
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AA already has significantly more employees than DL ...
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:31 am
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We might all agree Delta is aiming for a superior onboard coach product while AA is seemingly doing its best to emulate a ULCC... but Delta’s model will only work in the end if people pay a premium to fly Delta because of its product. So the real question... if DL fares are consistently X% more expensive than AA, would you still fly them?

But I suppose it’s an equally fair question whether Delusional Douggie believes his product is equally as good as DL and tries to charge the same amount for it as a result.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:33 am
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I'd say unless UA responds with similar moves AA won't. IIRC DL serves Y meals on Atlantic seaboard airports to West Coast seaboard airports. AA only serves meals on JFK/LAX/SFO. AA is not an innovator outside of premium cabins and the AC experience.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
Delusional Douggie
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Old Oct 16, 19, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
We might all agree Delta is aiming for a superior onboard coach product while AA is seemingly doing its best to emulate a ULCC... but Delta’s model will only work in the end if people pay a premium to fly Delta because of its product. So the real question... if DL fares are consistently X% more expensive than AA, would you still fly them?

But I suppose it’s an equally fair question whether Delusional Douggie believes his product is equally as good as DL and tries to charge the same amount for it as a result.
For being crammed like a sardine even with DL comfort, hot towels (don't use them), food (don't eat airline food), a/v (don't use it bring my own), would I then pay more personally to take a connection out of CLT just to avoid AA and more likely than not get to enjoy the "experience" that ATL is for connection purposes? Ahhhhhhh no. YMMV

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Old Oct 16, 19, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by GTITAN View Post
For being crammed like a sardine even with DL comfort, hot towels (don't use them), food (don't eat airline food), a/v (don't use it bring my own), would I then pay more personally to take a connection out of CLT just to avoid AA and more likely than not get to enjoy the "experience" that ATL is for connection purposes? Ahhhhhhh no. YMMV
Originally Posted by teemuflyer View Post
"Delta Air Lines is launching a significant upgrade to coach meal service on long international flights on Nov. 5. Passengers in the back of the plane will get free welcome cocktails, hot towels, printed menus, place mats, a choice of appetizers and separate dessert service. Portions will be bigger, too.
These improvements - in and of themselves - are probably not all that exciting. I think CX and JL already provide some/all of these features (at least within Asia) and are not all that luxurious, especially the "hot towel" that is a warmed up wet wipe in a plastic sleeve. Separate dessert on CX is a frozen ice cream cup distributed separately with a wooden paddle spoon. I don't think they're meant to be cost effective changes, but they do give a slight perception of improved quality.

Originally Posted by javabytes View Post
We might all agree Delta is aiming for a superior onboard coach product while AA is seemingly doing its best to emulate a ULCC... but Delta’s model will only work in the end if people pay a premium to fly Delta because of its product. So the real question... if DL fares are consistently X% more expensive than AA, would you still fly them?

But I suppose it’s an equally fair question whether Delusional Douggie believes his product is equally as good as DL and tries to charge the same amount for it as a result.
However, doesn't this assume a direct ROI? I think DL clearly knows how to play the PR game and set expectations. At this point I think DL has clearly crafted a better image than AA -- if DL and AA are showing the same fare, and enough people would automatically book DL, isn't that also a win? That it turn would require AA to lower its fares.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by teemuflyer View Post
"Delta Air Lines is launching a significant upgrade to coach meal service on long international flights on Nov. 5. Passengers in the back of the plane will get free welcome cocktails, hot towels, printed menus, place mats, a choice of appetizers and separate dessert service. "
I don't know what Delta considers "long" international service, but by the same token doesn't AA already do most of this on their longer international flights? I was watching YouTube video reviews of HKG and Asia flights that showed printed menu cards, hot towels and cocktails in regular Y.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 1:56 pm
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I'll take as objective a look as I can at this, from the perspective of what it would take to win my money.

So the three things here are (a) employee count, (b) meal service on international Y fares, (c) typical fleet seat width and pitch. And of those the first (employee count) isn't even really a direct point of comparison to care about.

So that leaves international Y meals, and seat width and pitch typically found on DL fleet compared to AA. And of those two, I can't say if the DL meal service is better than AA's already and would be moving forward, or if it's behind and is catching up, or whether it's all about the same no matter what. So the one tangible advantage here is the inch extra seat width and pitch.

Small advantage? Sure. But is it going to pull me away from so many direct flights out of my home airport of CLT? It wouldn't. The overall experience on DL would have to be leaps and bounds better and/or for a fraction of the price.

If I was living in and flying out of Charleston, I'm sure it'd be a completely different analysis.

As things stand though the only opportunity Delta has to win my business is on long flights where I have to make a connection anyway. Even then I'm inclined to stick with American to consolidate reward miles as much as possible, so the DL experience would really have to be significantly better overall.
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Old Oct 16, 19, 2:17 pm
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People love to talk about the "race to the bottom". I don't really agree with this. AA is too big, they can't provide a consistent product and their employees are unhappy (for a multitude of reasons, one being the merger of two different airline cultures). I am by no means an AA fan, but I think things will get better little by little. To a lot of occasional flyers, their recent "enhancements" can often be actually seen as enhancements (outlets, tablet holders, "new" seats). Most people don't care if their Coke is served with a smile as long as they get it.

All that to say, Delta is making lots of improvements and is growing. However, these improvements do command a premium. It seems that people are willing to pay this premium. AA is able to fill their planes up "cheaply" so why would they improve things and then have to convince people that they are worth paying a little extra for?
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