DL Level of Service Declining In All Aspects?

Old May 6, 19, 9:06 am
  #31  
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: HSV
Programs: DL DM, Marriott lifetime Ti, USMC
Posts: 490
I'm old and cranky. I've been a Medallion every year since 1999 and will hit 2MM BIS later this year unless I quit my job. I live in a city that has insanely high airfares and tons of other DMs I have to fight for upgrades. Despite those facts, I'll take the opposite position here: DL is *consistently* the best US airline from a hard and soft-product standpoint, from an on-time arrival standpoint, and a safety standpoint.

I will not fly United, period, and I try very hard to avoid flying AA (with pretty good success). Why? DL has steadily taken great care of me during that entire 20-year run. Whether IROPS, mx, or just good old friendly service from the GAs and FAs, Delta has consistently done a very good job of getting me safely from point A to point B, almost always on schedule and with as good an experience as can be expected. Compare the shady shenanigans that other airlines have gotten caught at, then consider how much mx business Delta TechOps gets from other airlines who send their hulls there for work. Consider their steady upgrades to their fleet where it makes sense to buy new, but also that I can still fly a mainline 717/MD8x instead of an RJ on a surprising number of legs.

Are they perfect? Nah. I don't even bother going to SkyClubs in most DL locations any more unless I need to use an arrival lounge for a shower. They're overcrowded, noisy, and mostly no better in amenities than being in the terminal itself. I agree with OP that this is a clear example of DL's decline. I also think that the devaluation of SkyPesos has been unfortunate, but I understand why it's happened and how it's contributed to DL's margins-- and that the devaluation itself has enabled DL to deliver on *other* aspects of their operations.
paulr is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 9:06 am
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Now: SAT. Previously: SEA, DAY/CVG
Programs: Delta PM
Posts: 5,500
Have to agree with others who have said that if your only metric is the Skymiles program and benefits, then sure, it's been "frustrating". But that's simple economics. The economy has improved. The market has consolidated. Supply and demand says DL has to do far less incentivizing to fill seats. Sucks for those of us who enjoyed the perks for so long but that's (again) supply and demand.

But overall, I've noticed improvement in areas that matter more as average passenger. I've found DL's operational reliability has improved significantly. Whether that's actually true across its operation, I don't know, but that's my experience. I find their IROPS recovery better than other carriers (Yes, it probably helps that I have status with DL). I also still find DL's front-line employees to be among the best. I also find DL service recovery (customer complaints/feedback) to be among the best at "making it right" (again, it probably helps that I have status here). I've found the onboard product mostly improved over the past decade. More routes now come with meals and better snacks in F. C+ has seen improvements. SkyClubs have gotten way better in the last few years (I admit I was really spoiled being in Seattle for a few years with the Flagship Club there and it sucks now being in SAT with no SkyClub ).

My top alternate airline when I can't go with DL is AA, and I haven't had the problems that many others on here chide them for, though flying without status can feel rough. My biggest frustration with AA is domestic IFE, or lack thereof, compared to DL. I do like that DL has way more aircraft equipped with seatback screens while AA only goes with AA Studio or whatever they call it throughout most of their fleet. I don't get the same "feel" from the employees on AA. It's not that I have had bad experiences on AA. But with AA, I get the impression that it's a job and nothing more or less. On DL, to most front-line employees (and I'm guessing behind the scenes too), it's more than a job. DL is also a culture they're proud to be a part of. That's ultimately what for now, keeps me loyal to DL, even when it's been tempting to switch to AA, especially now living in Texas where AA would be much easier.
defrosted likes this.
ATOBTTR is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 9:09 am
  #33  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Treasure Coast, FL
Programs: DL Diamond, Marriott LT Plat, HH Diamond, Avis Preferred Plus, National Executive
Posts: 4,267
Originally Posted by bloc0102 View Post
This. Every time I fly United, it seems none of the employees are happy.
My elderly parents live in Houston so Iíve done about 12 segments on United this year TPA-IAH.
Iíve had zero issues and every employee has been acceptably friendly and courteous.
Not worth it to connect through ATL on DL (will still requalify as Diamond for 2020).
apodo77 is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 9:14 am
  #34  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL GM, Bonvoy Gold
Posts: 7,808
Originally Posted by jackvogt View Post
I think the public is demanding rock bottom airfares and doesn't care about the level of service.
The introduction of options like C+ and Premium Select, and a very successful push to sell domestic first class, would suggest otherwise. Apparently at least part of the public does care about level of service and is willing to pay for it. As a GM I never wait for upgrades, I always pay for the C+ or F seat that I want at time of purchase. And yes, products like Basic Economy have also been introduced.
jdrtravel is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 10:22 am
  #35  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 3,784
Originally Posted by jdrtravel View Post
Agree that the phone agent situation has gotten worse. I do, however, notice a significant difference when I call M-F during business hours vs. evening and weekends. I find that when calling during weekday business hours I am much more likely to get a senior agent who knows what they are doing.
I agree with this. After too many screw ups and uninformed agents, I try to do anything that relates to a global or regional upgrade during weekday business hours.
El Boocho is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 11:38 am
  #36  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Atlanta, GA
Programs: Delta SkyMiles,
Posts: 475
Originally Posted by jdrtravel View Post
The introduction of options like C+ and Premium Select, and a very successful push to sell domestic first class, would suggest otherwise. Apparently at least part of the public does care about level of service and is willing to pay for it. As a GM I never wait for upgrades, I always pay for the C+ or F seat that I want at time of purchase. And yes, products like Basic Economy have also been introduced.
Let me clarify...people tend to not want bundled service.They want to purchase a cheap ticket and then decide later if they want C+ or F. There will always be people who do want a higher level of service, but they aren't the majority.
jackvogt is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 11:40 am
  #37  
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: NYC: UA 1K, DL Platinum, AAirpass, Avis PC
Posts: 4,503
I'd say 'peak Delta' was about 4 or 5 years ago. Transcons had just gone lie flat with phenomenal food, shorter hauls weren't cut as far as today.

Flight attendants had more spring in their step - more of the pmDL natives in the air who saw their airline rise from the ashes. Now more new hires in the mix.

The gap with UA was a lot wider.

Now...the gap is a lot less. Delta's got a bit complacent and UA has improved its operation.
cerealmarketer is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 12:16 pm
  #38  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL GM, Bonvoy Gold
Posts: 7,808
Originally Posted by jackvogt View Post
Let me clarify...people tend to not want bundled service.They want to purchase a cheap ticket and then decide later if they want C+ or F. There will always be people who do want a higher level of service, but they aren't the majority.

Not sure what you mean by bundled service. Given the layout of DL's website which always returns the price of C+ and premium cabins along with coach, I would guess that plenty of people are buying directly into these cabins. Of course it is not the majority--this is obvious because the majority of the seats on the airplane are coach seats. In any case, I don't think you or I actually know the numbers, this is not info that DL shares publicly.
jdrtravel is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 12:21 pm
  #39  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL GM, Bonvoy Gold
Posts: 7,808
Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
Delta's got a bit complacent and UA has improved its operation.

I think this is probably true.
jdrtravel is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 12:42 pm
  #40  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Home
Programs: Delta Skymiles
Posts: 321
Originally Posted by jdrtravel View Post
I think this is probably true.
I'd agree too.
Last Thursday was a first in many months with no PDB and an unsmiling - positively grim FA in first class.
Though I managed to charm her enough to get 2 double G&Ts on a 45 min flight

The universe was in balance by the time we landed.
apodo77 likes this.
jeet is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 12:42 pm
  #41  
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: The ATL
Programs: Delta DM, Marriott Lifetime Titanium, HHonrs Diamond
Posts: 429
Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
The gap with UA was a lot wider.

Now...the gap is a lot less. Delta's got a bit complacent and UA has improved its operation.
It is not easy merging two large airlines. The growing pains can last for half a decade or more.
DL is fortunate in that their big merger is furthest in the rear-view mirror.
United is next.
Followed by AA and WN (to a lesser extent).

So one would expect the others to catch up to DL since many of their "culture issues" are post-merger related. Only time can heal for many personnel who yearn for leadership and culture of their pre-merger employer. Saw it with the ex-NW people back in 2009, and more recently with ex-US and ex-CO, and even with ex-AirTran (they like the pay but my ATL-based friends don't like the slow de-hubbing of ATL compared to the FL days). If UA and AA can smooth over their post-merger issues, they will catch up to DL, and that has speaks for those companies, not against DL.
FlyBitcoin is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 12:52 pm
  #42  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 3,221
Originally Posted by Widgets View Post
Regarding the quality of customer service interactions, I think as the economy improves post-2008, itís harder for companies to keep talented employees. There are more competitors and other industries now offering compensation that competes with Delta. And more experienced baby boomers are retiring.

edit: and Iím not saying I think things have gotten worse. These are just factors to consider that have a negative pressure on the labor economy as a whole.
Originally Posted by vincentharris View Post


thats a really good point I never thought about before.
I always judge the economy based on my service at fast-food restaurants. (this is in general not on a one time experience) The slower/poorer the service the better the economy. I went though a place Saturday (I have a 1.5 y/o and an 11 y/o sometimes you just can't fight it anymore) and only 6 people were working because everyone else called in sick, it was actually the first really beautiful weekend. They aren't paid enough to not call in when there are 12 other places with similar pay/work conditions all hiring on practically the same street.

Conversely when times get tough, you start to get consistently good service because you get people who aren't in High School or on Social Security working there. I have a Master's degree and worked at Target a for a while. So I know from first hand experience how it can go!

Plus the people on the phone are probably the hardest to recruit and maintain new hires, as call center jobs are pretty transferable to any other call center. Which is partly why you might have seen the steepest reduction in quality there.

Just my thoughts.
kop84 is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 1:01 pm
  #43  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Programs: DL DM, UA Gold, Alaska MVP, Bonvoy (lol) Ambassador
Posts: 2,260
I agree with the comments here about hiring competition - especially in roles that tend to have shorter tenures (call center, gate agents, etc - as opposed to flight attendants who are usually committed a bit longer term due to the competition to get those jobs). I've noticed less of an issue with the call center (perhaps this is the benefit of being a Diamond and getting more tenured agents on average) - where I've noticed a decline (if anywhere) is with gate agents. Poor adherence to policy, surly attitudes, and frequently not knowing how to fix things (e.g., out of order segments after getting protected on a flight).

That said, I don't see a big overall decline in Delta's customer service. Their NPS scores show that they are actually getting better (although of course those can be biased by sampling approaches). The biggest thing I do see is the relative decline. Delta used to be head and shoulders above United a few years ago. United was a mess, so flying Delta was a real relief. The gap - while there is still a gap - has narrowed significantly. United's onboard service and operations have definitely risen steadily after the chaos from the merger.

American is clearly satisfied competing in a different model than United and Delta. Their customer service and focus on customer experience is noticeably less than that of Delta and United.
ethernal is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 1:51 pm
  #44  
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: NYC: UA 1K, DL Platinum, AAirpass, Avis PC
Posts: 4,503
I'd also add I get the sense the ground staff are most on point for Delta these days. Skyclub agents and gate agents seem consistently professional.

It's the flight crews that seem more variable than before - and as noted the longer wait times for phone agents.

A friend who flies AA a lot asked whether it's time to dual status with Delta vs UA. I said - flying Delta is boring to me - pretty much everyone at the airport is well adjusted and does their job. While at UA it's more of a spectrum of personalities and I like a good challenge, especially since it often lets me work things to my favor.
cerealmarketer is offline  
Old May 6, 19, 2:05 pm
  #45  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Programs: DL 1 million, AA 1 mil, HH lapsed Diamond, Marriott Plat
Posts: 28,174
The American Customer Satisfaction Index - which has been doing airline satisfaction scores since 1995 - doesn't show United to be a threat in its report of a few weeks ago. Emphasis mine.

Despite a 4% leap, United sits in the bottom three with a score of 70, only besting Frontier (64) and Spirit (63), which see 3% and 2% climbs, respectively.

Delta also rises 1% to an ACSI score of 75, making it number one among legacy airlines. Passengers enjoy the airline’s many in-flight amenities, including seatback screens, USB ports, and Wi-Fi.

https://www.theacsi.org/news-and-res...avel-2018-2019
3Cforme is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread