Delta Q&A Meeting with Execs - NOTES

 

Old Jul 15, 09, 8:50 am
  #196  
 
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Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
That was not a rant. It appears to me that you received a response. You state that it came from NW but NW does not exist anymore. You received a response from DL. Now I am not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but.... What more do you want. You got your bags and an apology and 2000 bonus miles.
NW is still a subsidiary, and from my recent experiences customer service is still quite separate. The plus side to the NW folks is NW Customer Service, even using the online stuff, is quite superior to the DL equivalent. The down side sub-par DL station managers like at DFW where NW elite and paid first class ticket holders on 012 stock are yelled at for using the BF/Medallion line.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by atldlff View Post
Just as a point of clarification here. The quote you are responding to, was NOT what was said. There were a lot of others at that session, so if I have misstated this, I am sure others will correct me.

The Delta team at the Q&A never actually indicated that they toss anything out. What they said was, it was helpful to post problems that have specifics so that they can respond to it or take action. Posts like "the service sucks" without any specifics to back that that up, are, what I would call, judgment statements and I suspect those would not be responded to.

Now, with that said, it looks like you did have a specific problem that should have gotten a timely reply, and I can't explain why you haven't received a response from Delta. Everytime I have sent an on-line request to Delta I have gotten a response within days, if not within hours.
You are right. What I meant was that if you post a rant "Delta Sucks!", "Delta is the worst airline ever", "I can't believe these idiots", etc... With no real substance or information it will most likely end up in file 13. Did DL say it would be in "file 13"? No, I said it would end up in file 13. Anyone with a lick of common sense would understand that no employee is going to hang on to an incoherent rant that does not have any information that could be used to improve. Did DL say that they "tossed" things they read on the internet? I would not guarantee that they said that exact word, but it was clear to me, that unusable rants would not go any where. The entire point of my post was to encourage people to post things that are useful. Refrain from inflammatory statements as that could bury the meat of your problem. A clear post with details could be very helpful, not only to you and DL but to others in the future.

One thing people seem to over look is that no company has any obligation to read anything on the internet. The fact that they do shows that they are looking for information that could help them improve. Thank you DL for reading.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 8:59 am
  #198  
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Originally Posted by EasternTraveler
The fact that they do shows that they are looking for information that could help them improve.
DL management's idea for information that could help them improve is not necessarily the same thing as improvement for most all customers when DL management takes the position of a relationship dynamic being some kind of zero-sum game.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 9:17 am
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Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
That was not a rant. It appears to me that you received a response. You state that it came from NW but NW does not exist anymore. You received a response from DL. Now I am not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but.... What more do you want. You got your bags and an apology and 2000 bonus miles.
Actually, NW does exist. NW is a wholly owned subsidiary of DL. With it's own operations, back-end, customer service, flight crew, cabin crew, etc. All shrinking, yet still there. The confusions of having a (supposedly) common brand, with two different operating carriers, is getting press:

http://www.freep.com/article/20090706/BLOG20/90706030/

NW is gone when you can't book an 012 ticket.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 9:30 am
  #200  
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Originally Posted by sbagdon View Post
Actually, NW does exist. NW is a wholly owned subsidiary of DL. With it's own operations, back-end, customer service, flight crew, cabin crew, etc. All shrinking, yet still there. The confusions of having a (supposedly) common brand, with two different operating carriers, is getting press:[/url]
Think back to the press that was gotten when US Airways check-in system shut down on a Monday morning.

Despite the glitches (and yes, some of them must be highly frustrating), DL/NW have done relatively well so far -- they must have read Dougie's book on how not to merge airlines.

Originally Posted by sbagdon View Post
NW is gone when you can't book an 012 ticket.
NW will be gone when its Schedule 121 certificate is withdrawn or sold.

Last edited by MikeMpls; Jul 15, 09 at 9:59 am
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Old Jul 15, 09, 9:52 am
  #201  
 
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Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
That was not a rant. It appears to me that you received a response. You state that it came from NW but NW does not exist anymore. You received a response from DL.

Now I am not trying to be dismissive or argumentative, but.... What more do you want. You got your bags and an apology and 2000 bonus miles.
Yes, I did get a response, from NW and not DL. Yes, I understand what you're saying about "NW" not existing (although it does technically, obviously it doesn't).

My point is this. I booked a ticket from delta.com, on Delta ticket stock 006, on Delta metal on a flight Delta has always ran and operated, and complained about the new combined Delta check in, gate, lack of an elite line, no additional kiosks and staffing in Syracuse... and complained and gave vivid details about my bag being lost, the JFK crew being unresponsive... and detailed 6 other times that my bag has been delayed (sometimes for days) on the SYR-JFK run in the past three years.

No response from Delta mailed customer care.
No response from Delta e-mailed customer care.

Response from NWA.com TTU emailed customer care, responding to every single one of the items I brought up. Customer service agent mainly said she could follow up on the new combined check in and gate areas, and staffing and kiosks. She said she was sorry about the lost luggage and the issues at JFK but had no real control over it. But as a valued NW Elite member, she would issue me 2000 bonus points for my troubles.

Basically, I took that as, well, you flew on something we don't have real control over, but, we know you had a tough time, so here's some points and we're sorry. That's great news.

I want a follow up specificially on the issues related to Delta on this, like, why after 3 years of running this route they can't figure out how to get a bag from SYR to JFK. And, who's brilliant idea was it to combine checkin and gate operations with the same amount of staffing as they would have staffed just one airline, not adding any additional kiosks, eliminating the elite line... and the boarding proccess, you don't even want to know about that. It seemed to me whomever executed all of this put no thought into it AT ALL, and it's likely this chaos caused my baggage to be misplaced in SYR this time. And, it's not like I caught them the day after the change. They merged the counters on 6/3 and I was flying on 6/18... plenty of time to work the bugs out.

So, just a courtesy NWA.COM TTU response isn't good enough for me. 2000 Bonus Points is good. Getting my luggage back, also good. Getting feedback to someone who can make an actual decision and make improvements? Seems to be lacking in the Delta world.

In the old NW days I probably would have been called by the manager at SYR. I've made complaints about issues like this on other common carriers, like Amtrak, and I get a station manager or regional manger calling me, and i'm not even an Elite member with Amtrak. Amtrak adopted my suggestions within weeks of hearing the complaint. I'm used to customer service, not a lack of it.

Delta doesn't even bother replying... at least so far And that is the most annoying part at all.

So, this signals to me that this comes from the top... or that there are so many layers within Delta, the CSR's have no empowerment and aren't given any direction as to help respond to complaints and direct suggestions to decision makers.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 10:08 am
  #202  
 
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Originally Posted by syrwhizzy View Post
So, this signals to me that this comes from the top... or that there are so many layers within Delta, the CSR's have no empowerment and aren't given any direction as to help respond to complaints and direct suggestions to decision makers.
...which brings me back full circle to this thread. In the notes of the DO, I hear alot of excuses and bellayching about why DL management couldn't do something. That's a cop-out for not caring as much in my opinion, and get me managment that challenges its employees to get something done because it's the right thing to do.

Don't tell me "Well, we talked about doing this because it's the right thing to do for the customer, and we know customers of the other airline we just acquired are used to that. But we're not going to do that for awhile because you know, things are really complex, you have no idea." If I hear these excuses one more time (and I know I will) I'm going to get ill. If you read my notes on a recent merger I was involved with, This is exactly the kind of mentality and bad culture of the acquired company had. I can't tell you how many times I heard their IT staff which was much larger and much well funded would come up with excuses of how something couldn't be done. "You couldn't possibly understand what we have and what we do." They came up with time lines that were years for merger system conversions, we had time lines in WEEKS (13 to be precise). (Side note: I'm not saying that I know DL/NWs systems and that in this case it could be done in 13 weeks, just want to make that clear).

Luckily, we did the purchasing and were in the drivers seat. My team, said well then get out of the way, because we're going to do it for you. Those that participated, showed they knew their stuff and helped kept their jobs and most are thriving in their new environment. Those that didn't, most of them left because we actually made them work and they'd rather just have spent time avoiding work. Those that stuck around and didn't work and contribute to solutions, well, they didn't last more than a year post merger.

It all comes from above.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 10:45 am
  #203  
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Originally Posted by syrwhizzy View Post
...which brings me back full circle to this thread. In the notes of the DO, I hear alot of excuses and bellayching about why DL management couldn't do something.
All I can say is YMMV.

That is not what I heard management saying at the meeting. They acknowledged that some things were done better at NW, some done better at DL, and they are trying to learn from both and implement as much as they can. This is an industry which is really struggling to stay afloat, and some changes cost too many millions of dollars to be instantly implemented.

BTW, a significant part of management and corporate culture in the new company comes from NW. Anderson wasn't with DL...

I had an experience opposite of yours last year, I was on 06 ticket stock, NW metal, and my bag was damaged by NW baggage handlers; among other things they shredded my PM luggage tag (and my FlyerTalk luggage tag). I wrote DL and NW; DL quickly sent a personally written reply, NW never responded. Some NW fliers want us to think that NW was godlike before the borglike DL assimilated them, but that just isn't the case.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by Gargoyle View Post
All I can say is YMMV.

That is not what I heard management saying at the meeting. They acknowledged that some things were done better at NW, some done better at DL, and they are trying to learn from both and implement as much as they can. This is an industry which is really struggling to stay afloat, and some changes cost too many millions of dollars to be instantly implemented.

BTW, a significant part of management and corporate culture in the new company comes from NW. Anderson wasn't with DL...

I had an experience opposite of yours last year, I was on 06 ticket stock, NW metal, and my bag was damaged by NW baggage handlers; among other things they shredded my PM luggage tag (and my FlyerTalk luggage tag). I wrote DL and NW; DL quickly sent a personally written reply, NW never responded. Some NW fliers want us to think that NW was godlike before the borglike DL assimilated them, but that just isn't the case.
That's not to say I never had problems with NW luggage. But, I was always responded to quickly and often given compensation in one form or another. My favorite was the card they put in your luggage when it was delivered to you at the hotel that apologized for the delay, here's a coupon off your next flight, go to NWA.com and redeem this coupon for 1,000 bonus miles, and here's a drink coupon, something like that.

I've always recieved a quick personal response on NWA.COM TTU. Not always on Delta. I wonder if (at least in email) if they don't know your status immediately they just treat you like everyone else. I've never been non NW Elite on NW, so I wouldn't know how they treat people. Maybe that's the problem. Since you had no status on NW, you were treated poorly. Since I have no status on DL, same with me. It's a thought.

On what was said at the DO, I hope that's the case. I just don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling, and I think Anderson is very hands off and lets the people who have been there do their thing. If he's very hands on and trying to instill the old NW culture, then there are too many people in the middle who are buffering that out. It's definately not the same culture NW has had for years.

On the cost too much / struggling industry thing, well, you need to budget properly before an acquisition and I'm sure the IT component of the acquisition isn't nearly as much as other costs. You know, these people don't think twice about the scores of legal fees, contract buyouts, regulatory fees, accountants and lawyers and stuff. Those costs will dwarf the IT costs, and I consider it poor planning or a cop out. I didn't say instant either, because that's almost impossible to do as well. But, we're being told "in a few years" on some things that NWA has had for years and other things of integration. I don't doubt their working on these things, and I don't doubt they take time. But I also don't buy the "we're in a downturn etc" stuff either... my industry is and was too -- part of the reason they asked for the merger was to get operational synergies and save money to stay together in this downturn. They have money to repaint planes and change the uniforms and redo kiosks and safety cards and all that stuff before their FAA certificate is even granted, but not enough money to adequately do an IT conversion? That's a big red flag to someone who's done one of these before. You know what? If times are that rough, let the NW planes stay painted as NW planes and the FA's wear the same uniforms for a bit longer so we can do the IT conversion right.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 11:58 am
  #205  
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Originally Posted by syrwhizzy View Post
They have money to repaint planes and change the uniforms and redo kiosks and safety cards and all that stuff before their FAA certificate is even granted, but not enough money to adequately do an IT conversion?
Just to take one example, the safety cards need to be replaced. NW and DL had different emergency procedures. When opening over-wing doors on MD88's, the DL procedure is to put the door on the seat. On the D90's, the NW procedure is to toss it out the window. I'm not saying either method is better- both have their advantages and drawbacks. But the former NW FA's are currently going through training to learn the DL methods, and these things have to be unified and made consistent. They can't train the FA's to do one thing and have the safety cards show something else, so the cards have to be replaced in the current time frame.

Also, the people who repaint planes are not the same team that repaints the website, so you don't get the IT changes done any faster by delaying the livery conversion.

Also, with the IT changes, there is a difference between just throwing more money at a project to try to get it done faster, and studying the ROI to see you can justify including a specific feature in that project.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 12:07 pm
  #206  
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Originally Posted by syrwhizzy
They have money to repaint planes and change the uniforms and redo kiosks and safety cards and all that stuff before their FAA certificate is even granted, but not enough money to adequately do an IT conversion?
Only someone with little or no experience in IT would make a statement like this. Replacing something that encompasses the scope & vintage of DELTAMATIC will require many, many man-years of efforts.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 12:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Gargoyle View Post
Just to take one example, the safety cards need to be replaced. NW and DL had different emergency procedures. When opening over-wing doors on MD88's, the DL procedure is to put the door on the seat. On the D90's, the NW procedure is to toss it out the window. I'm not saying either method is better- both have their advantages and drawbacks. But the former NW FA's are currently going through training to learn the DL methods, and these things have to be unified and made consistent. They can't train the FA's to do one thing and have the safety cards show something else, so the cards have to be replaced in the current time frame.
Good point, but I disagree. The cards are specific to each aircraft, so keep the ones that are there. They don't need to be redesigned if "times are tough"

Also, the people who repaint planes are not the same team that repaints the website, so you don't get the IT changes done any faster by delaying the livery conversion.
I agree with that statement. However, when DL execs say that the IT conversion costs were just too expensive to do it right, then that means they budgeted improperly.

Also, with the IT changes, there is a difference between just throwing more money at a project to try to get it done faster, and studying the ROI to see you can justify including a specific feature in that project.
Trust me, I'm insanely aware of that. That's my job. My counterparts at the other company would throw lots of money at projects, come up with fabulous reports, take forever to finish projects, and basically have the same retoric I'm hearing from DL. You don't throw just money into problems. My counterparts that are still around post-merger are astounded at how we do more with less. Before, their organization spent wasted more time and money avoiding problems or trying to just throw money at them and never cutting through the crap and just getting things done. They have more tools and can do their jobs better than before because we removed the wasting time and money culture and eliminated most of the politics and BS within the organization which was driving up cost and down productivity.

Funny story, not really related to above, other than its just a show of different cultures. While we were hashing out our IT conversion details... and they were outlining how impossible of a task it was to move a specific division... they were quoting all these numbers and statistics and server counts and things like that... trying to scare us with numbers. Their favorite number to scare you with was revenue tied to it. We don't dare touch that because that generates 1 trillion dollars per second so that'll take a few years to replace. Come to find out they'd spend all this time coming up with ways to avoid doing the work, hiring external consultants, etc... Half the time these stats were wrong, and, if you did your homework about the company you were buying you'd know that division doesn't make 1 trillion dollars per second.

I had one hancho give me a number, I ran it through my head and I stopped them right then and there. I said that's impossible. They replied, no that's how much revenue is tied to this so we don't dare touch it, it's got to stay the way it is, it'll take years and lots of money to develop a plan to convert it, yada yada yada... I said, you said it generates x per time period? Yes. I said, well that's very interesting, because, if you extend that out to an entire year, your entire division of the company doesn't make that in a year. I think your numbers are off, why don't you try again. This person didn't like being asked these things because, well, they really had no clue what they were talking about, and they ended up leaving because our demand for actual work tended to interfere with their periodic golf outings with vendors during the business day.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 12:38 pm
  #208  
 
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Originally Posted by syrwhizzy View Post
On what was said at the DO, I hope that's the case. I just don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling, and I think Anderson is very hands off and lets the people who have been there do their thing. If he's very hands on and trying to instill the old NW culture, then there are too many people in the middle who are buffering that out. It's definately not the same culture NW has had for years.
I can tell you that at the Q&A session we were told that Anderson is in fact VERY hands on with the loyalty programs. He personally spent the time to review each line item of the current DL and NW FF programs and what was being proposed in "New" program. While I am sure he trusts the current leadership team to develop the new program(s), he is taking a personal interest in the details of the programs, which I think is great news. Doesn't mean we will "get" everything we want, but it does mean he is aware of the details, decisions and trade-offs.

As far as the culture, having been through several large mergers with some of the biggest names in IT, it is always a toss-up. There is a period of "we" and "they" until everyone completely gets on-board (pun intended of course), but I would guess it will take at least another year to see the cultures really embrace the integration, style, and ways of doing things. It is clear that both companies’ cultures bring something to the table, and I do think that the management team does recognize that. The NW call center for elites was mentioned as an example.

As far as being able to pick the "best in class", much easier said than done. There was an acknowledgement that NWA.com had some superior capabilities to Delta.com, in fact, it was originally the platform they were going with, but in the end they had to choose Delta.com for it's better integration with Deltamatic vs. Pars. It was acknowledged that it ultimately they needed to develop a more state-of-the-art IT platform, not just continue to "enhance" the current one, with work-arounds or loss of some functionality that is currently available on the NW side. So, there is a short-term solution and a long-term solution. For the near term, it won't be ideal, but I didn't get the sense that it was being used as an excuse, but rather a reality of what is. I did however get a clear sense that Delta IT understood what they needed to do for the LT solution. When will that happen? It is anyone's best guess. It is not the best economic environment to take on a massive and expensive project like that. Just my 2 cents.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 12:47 pm
  #209  
 
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On June 25 I sent to DL's version of TTU a compliment about a dead-heading first officer who assisted greatly in boarding -- taking a wheel chair passenger down the ramp to the plane, helping people stow bags in the overhead. I wanted to compliment him.
Took until yesterday, about three weeks to get a response. The response did show that someone read what I'd written -- that is good. But for NW folks who are used to getting TTU responses quickly, often within hours, this was strange.
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Old Jul 15, 09, 1:05 pm
  #210  
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Originally Posted by mot29 View Post
I wanted to compliment him.
Took until yesterday, about three weeks to get a response.
I have found that it takes DL a long time to respond to compliments, but they respond to complaint e-mail quickly.
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