Delta Q&A Meeting with Execs - NOTES

 

Old Jun 29, 09, 10:08 pm
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
And I consider this a big problem. If someone has miles in their account, why not send out one letter, or some emails. They send out so much advertising crap already, what's the problem with one more?
I had an inactive account with AA, hadn't flown with them in years. I didn't bother paying attention to it, and the miles expired. AA was sending me sale promotions every Tuesday, but didn't notify me of the miles. Didn't bother me, since I wasn't their customer any more.

For discussion purposes, say they have 5 million accounts with less than 25k miles, so not enough to redeem. Those accounts have been inactive for 3, 4, 5 or more years. Do you want them to spend $7 million in printing and mailing costs to notify those people, many of whom have moved, forwarding address expired, or died or changed their names? Sure, it would be nice if they did, but I understand their reasoning.

Or should they send 5 million e-mails to 4 year old e-mail addresses? I'd speculate that maybe 2% of those e-mails would even reach the person and get opened and read, and only a fraction of that 2% would do anything about it.
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Old Jun 29, 09, 10:18 pm
  #122  
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
And I consider this a big problem. If someone has miles in their account, why not send out one letter, or some emails. They send out so much advertising crap already, what's the problem with one more?
Well, its called a frequent flyer program. If you haven't had any type of activity for 3-4 years, you're probably not too interested in maintaining your account.

Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
And, if they are going to alter the expiration date on any accounts, they need to have this communicated clearly to all members. DL has expired many miles this year after sending out expiration dates of 12/09, they nuked the miles in January/09. Very slimey.
It has been communicated clearly. The last claim, well its hearsay at that this point. Kind of shaky to base your whole premise on that.
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Old Jun 29, 09, 11:15 pm
  #123  
 
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Originally Posted by Surge2009 View Post
But thats the problem - most of us do understand business and see gaping holes where Delta is clearly mis-informed and going down the wrong path.
We shall agree to disagree. Not necessarily on whether DL is going down the wrong path, but that most of us here understand business. I mean, your suggestions are basically: hold the line on FF and in-flight benefits, launch new service during a period of incredibly slack demand, and lower fares when your current ones don't cover your cost of doing business.
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Old Jun 29, 09, 11:15 pm
  #124  
 
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Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
I really cannot believe how many people are out for blood. If you were not at the event then you are NOT going to get all of the details that were available at the event. As Jeff and others said "We are not going to publicly comment on many things that we would like to due to legal and policy reasons." What they discussed with us was for our group. Flyer Talk is a public forum and is read by many, including the press. It would be wrong for us to release any references or inuindo given at the event.
This is complete hogwash. I was not able to attend this event; but, I'm sure there was no information disclosed there that was secret or competition sensitive. You can play 'I've got a secret' if you wish; but, thankfully, others who attended don't mind sharing the information with the FT community at large.
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Old Jun 29, 09, 11:49 pm
  #125  
 
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Originally Posted by pbarnette View Post
We shall agree to disagree. Not necessarily on whether DL is going down the wrong path, but that most of us here understand business. I mean, your suggestions are basically: hold the line on FF and in-flight benefits, launch new service during a period of incredibly slack demand, and lower fares when your current ones don't cover your cost of doing business.
The way you make phrase it is slightly misleading. I'm talking about the combined "new delta" (delta/nwa) - you seem to be referencing just the "old delta". Second of all, I'm not suggesting that Delta launches any new services. I'm fine if they keep their routes the way they are or even discontinue those that are not profitable (like every other airline is doing). However, NWA clearly had their fares at a level that made them profitable and financially stronger than most other airlines. Add to that the efficiencies and synergies created by the combined airline with the millions of dollars of savings (that was used as justification for government approval of the merger), which would lead one to believe that they should be financially stronger and in a position to start trickling down these savings to the customers as well. However - they've done the opposite and imposed larger fees on NWA's customer base and raised fares on lanes that they previously competed with NWA on (which there were many - especially if you lived in a non-hub city). Not to sound like a broken record, but those facts would logicially make one to deduce that they are either mis-managing these savings (and the overall merger), or are just being greedy and sticking it to their customer base and testing the waters to see how much they can get away with.
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Old Jun 29, 09, 11:59 pm
  #126  
 
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Pehaps I can clarify

Since I was the lead organizer of this event, that evenutally included the Q&A session, let me make a few clarifications here.

(1) This event was open to ANYONE that wanted to attend. It was NOT invite only. There were no restrictions on the airline you flew or even if you were a FlyerTalk member. If you wanted to attend, all you needed to simply do was register before the deadline. In many cases I even took registrations WAY past the deadline. I am not aware of anyone that asked to attend that wasn't on the final list.

(2) There was no non-disclosure for this event. In fact, when I discussed this with Delta prior to the event, they were absolutely aware that anything discussed at the Q&A would utimately end up in FT and available to anyone on the internet. They are smart, they know that. The only document that attendees were asked to sign was a Waiver form that applied to the Road Warrior training. For those that attended, it was easy to see why they wanted that, and that is not uncommon for an activity of that type.

(3) At the end of the Q&A, the Delta team committed to getting answers to questions that people didn't get a chance to ask during the 2 1/2 hour Q&A session. All they needed to do is submit those to me, and I promised to consolidate them, pass them on to Delta and make my best attempt to get a response. I didn't receive any follow-up questions. I take that as an indication that everyone there felt their questions and concerns were addressed. There was a lot covered in the sesssion.

Finally, one of the key goals from on-set for this Q&A session was to create a mutually benefical and interactive environment for Delta and FT members. Jeff and Josh clearly told us before the Q&A session that they DIDN'T want pre-selected topics or questions, but that they felt it should be an environment that was free-flowing, open, frank and candid. I would say that was very well accomplished. They are keenly aware of the need for a more consistent presence on FT to continue to have on-going discussions, but it is clearly a balance of time, against key priorities and a long list of items with current integration. This session I felt was a huge step in the direction of better integration with FT, and I am personally committed to helping take that integration with FT to the next level.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion.

Last edited by atldlff; Jun 30, 09 at 12:07 am
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Old Jun 30, 09, 12:10 am
  #127  
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Please allow me to set the record straight here...
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
I really cannot believe how many people are out for blood. If you were not at the event then you are NOT going to get all of the details that were available at the event. As Jeff and others said "We are not going to publicly comment on many things that we would like to due to legal and policy reasons." What they discussed with us was for our group. Flyer Talk is a public forum and is read by many, including the press. It would be wrong for us to release any references or inuindo given at the event.

I was surprised that some actually came to the event that don't even fly DL or NW. I am not surprised at human nature. Some came with an agenda, DL treated them with the utmost respect and spent several hundred dollars on each and every one of us who attended. If they go back and bad mouth, that is them. Most of us understand business and understand what they are doing. Is everyone going to be happy? No! But I am glad they charge a fee when someone changes or cancels an award ticket. We get the appropriate waivers and if anyone abuses that, they should pay. One thing that everyone should have gotten out of the event is this:

Delta reads every post on multiple blogs, websites, etc... and the ones that contain enough information and details to investigate, they investigate. The ones that are a rant "They have a good laugh at and toss."

The above also applies to mistakes, error fares, bonus work arounds, etc.
So if you don't want them to know.......... don't post it!
When atldlff and I were planning the question and answer session, we did not do it thinking that proprietary information was going to be disclosed or that breaking news would be announced about which we would be the first to hear.

The primary purpose of this session was simply to ask questions and attempt to get answers in order to better understand the policies regarding the frequent flier loyalty programs and the Internet web site of Delta Air Lines, with a side benefit of adding in-person interaction to the session.
Originally Posted by Surge2009 View Post
This almost infers that people should not offer criticism just because delta spent $$$ on them for this event. Isnt that essentially bribery? And if this is the way you feel - how objective are you really if you plan on being swayed because a company pays for a good meal?
I can tell you first-hand that Delta Air Lines wants to hear constructive criticism from FlyerTalk members.

In fact, Josh Weiss specifically asked to please keep the criticism coming, as long as it was not one of those messages that simply bad-mouths Delta Air Lines, such as “The Delta web site really sucks! It is the worst thing ever!” and offers no constructive hint or clue as to what is the problem and suggestions on how to correct it.
Originally Posted by EasternTraveler View Post
We did have to show ID and sign a paper!
The paper that you signed was not a non-disclosure agreement based on your promise to retain the confidentiality of the information discussed during the Question and Answer session, but rather a waiver releasing Delta Air Lines of responsibility and culpability should you sustain injury when touring through hazardous areas such as the Technical Operations Center and for the Road Warrior Training.

The reason why you had to show identification is because the Technical Operations Center and the fire stations are located in secure areas regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Without proper identification, you would not have been permitted to tour either of these facilities.
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Old Jun 30, 09, 12:20 am
  #128  
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Originally Posted by Surge2009 View Post
However, NWA clearly had their fares at a level that made them profitable and financially stronger than most other airlines.
This is for another thread but I couldn't let this statement go without comment. You have to recall that NWA was not profitable and therefore entered bankruptcy. So the statemtnt that NW was somehow "financially stronger than most other airlines" before the merger is just plain false.
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Old Jun 30, 09, 12:33 am
  #129  
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Originally Posted by AndyTLe View Post
This is for another thread but I couldn't let this statement go without comment. You have to recall that NWA was not profitable and therefore entered bankruptcy. So the statemtnt that NW was somehow "financially stronger than most other airlines" before the merger is just plain false.
And you're simply mistaken. The NW bankruptcy was all about breaking the union contracts, and it succeeded 100%.

NW entered the bankruptcy with several $B in the bank, and its exit from bankruptcy was self-financed.
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Old Jun 30, 09, 1:03 am
  #130  
 
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Originally Posted by Surge2009 View Post
However, NWA clearly had their fares at a level that made them profitable and financially stronger than most other airlines. Add to that the efficiencies and synergies created by the combined airline with the millions of dollars of savings (that was used as justification for government approval of the merger), which would lead one to believe that they should be financially stronger and in a position to start trickling down these savings to the customers as well.
This is getting off topic, but a) NW was not profitable, at least not over any significantly long period, b) DL was not profitable, at least not over any significantly long period, and c) DL/NW is not profitable. The combined entity needs those cost savings simply to try and get into the black. My guess is even that will not be enough and that we won't see any of the legacies become consistently profitable any time soon.

Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
And you're simply mistaken. The NW bankruptcy was all about breaking the union contracts, and it succeeded 100%.

NW entered the bankruptcy with several $B in the bank, and its exit from bankruptcy was self-financed.
NW was not profitable. Let's not pretend otherwise.
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Old Jun 30, 09, 1:51 am
  #131  
 
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Originally Posted by pbarnette View Post
This is getting off topic, but a) NW was not profitable, at least not over any significantly long period, b) DL was not profitable, at least not over any significantly long period, and c) DL/NW is not profitable. The combined entity needs those cost savings simply to try and get into the black. My guess is even that will not be enough and that we won't see any of the legacies become consistently profitable any time soon.
Amen and +1. And it's not just DL, NW or DL/NW. Several well-regarded economists have researched the financial history of the airline industry as a whole and all came to the same conclusion. If one averages all the profits and losses of the commercial passenger aviation industry throughout its history, there has been a net loss. Even if one excludes the guaranteed-to-lose-money government owned airlines, there has still been a net loss because the bankruptcies, liquidations and short sale aquisitions erase any profits. So running a profitable airline is a relatively novel concept and a rare accomplishment. They all say they want to do it, but very few succeed.

I don't hold striving for profitably against DL. I do think, however, that some of their fee changes and policy changes have been ham-fisted and less than honestly presented.

Getting back on topic, it was probably wise for DL and Jeff Robertson in particular to stick to previously released policy information at last weekend's event. Some of Jeff's previous announcements here on FT have been perceived as . . . well, go back and look at the content of and response to some of his posts, and you'll see. He didn't do too well in the PR department.

Last edited by KeaauFlyer; Jun 30, 09 at 1:56 am
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Old Jun 30, 09, 4:51 am
  #132  
 
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Loyalty and the bottom line

The entire three day RWT event was great and the Q&A was remarkable -- it's good to see DL execs so accessible. I was happy to hear that Mr. Anderson values loyalty.

I had my hand up with one question right after Mersk and we couldn't get to it. It was about Chisholm aka Hibbing.

When asked how soon DL elites could access Chisholm, Jeff's (Robertson) response was they were working on a "Hibbing-like" thing, "maybe not Hibbing but probably Hibbing." (exact quotes there: "maybe not Hibbing but probably Hibbing.") That didn't slip by me. My hand went up -- but it was really late, we had run over by an hour, and the door prizes were waiting and we adjourned.

So my question is: after we have one operating certificate and one reservation system, the people at Chisholm will still be there for all of us -- DL's loyal customers -- right? There is no doubt about that? We're on the same page here? Not something Hibbing-like but the real thing. Yes?

The loyalty thing is tricky as it relates to bottom line and it works both ways. Years ago I was treated badly by an AT&T CSR and I will never do business with them again. When solicitors from AT&T call they can't understand why I would rather pay more with another company.

Loyalty defies mathematics. A loyal customer can feel better paying more and not just going by price. Loyalty is because of people -- you're really not loyal to a company but to the people in that company. It doesn't matter whether you call it Northwest or Delta -- it's the people.

The folks I met during the RWT DO are my new DL family: Anita, Gary, Mark, Julie and all the others too (even Mr. Weatherman.) They are dedicated people who were happy to spend their valuable time with us. On Saturday I told Anita I was about to cry when we were saying goodbye.

Just before dinner on Thursday I had discussed with Bob (Soukup) how MBAs can't work loyalty into a spreadsheet. It's hard to quantify -- you have to have a feel for it. With loss of perks I said "you only know when you've gone too far" (alienating loyal customers) "and then there's no going back. It's too late." Exact quotes there.

I don't need a lot of perks and award booking is not a big deal for me. Paper PMUs instead of electronic SWUs -- no problem. We're expert travelers and we know how to deal with things.

The only perks I desire are domestic upgrades and Chisholm -- and not necessarily in that order.

By now you can tell I'm also loyal to Paul and Bobbie and everybody else at Chisholm who have sent me all over the world and have gotten me home early from Asia before the typhoon hit and through MSP before the snow started. Stuck in traffic going to the airport? Don't panic, hit Chisholm on speed-dial and find out they already have you on the next flight.

They're always there and always professional and always perfect and always ready with a miracle when it's needed. They have often said "we love our elites" (exact quotes again) but I have never once in fifteen years heard the words "I can't."

That's why I have flown NW with the cloth seats better than 95% of the time -- out of NYC even where we have so much Continental -- loyalty. I have met countless CO elites who have left CO because they got better service from Chisholm.

It's easy to add up how much is spent purchasing tickets, but it's not easy to figure out how many tickets thousands of ex-elites won't be buying if they can't reach Chisholm and the best you've got is a "Hibbing-like" thing. You'll get that number when it's too late.
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Old Jun 30, 09, 5:14 am
  #133  
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Originally Posted by bdnyc View Post
They're always there and always professional and always perfect and always ready with a miracle when it's needed. They have often said "we love our elites" (exact quotes again) but I have never once in fifteen years heard the words "I can't."
Well said. All of it. And for me 100% true
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Old Jun 30, 09, 6:15 am
  #134  
 
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Originally Posted by Surge2009 View Post
Add to that the efficiencies and synergies created by the combined airline with the millions of dollars of savings (that was used as justification for government approval of the merger), which would lead one to believe that they should be financially stronger and in a position to start trickling down these savings to the customers as well. However - they've done the opposite and imposed larger fees on NWA's customer base and raised fares on lanes that they previously competed with NWA on (which there were many - especially if you lived in a non-hub city). Not to sound like a broken record, but those facts would logicially make one to deduce that they are either mis-managing these savings (and the overall merger), or are just being greedy and sticking it to their customer base and testing the waters to see how much they can get away with.
Since you understand business, you should know that a merger involving two companies with a combined workforce of more than 70,000 employees, flying over 1,000 airplanes, and carrying over 170 million pasengers a year is not completed within 8 months (we are now at the end of June 09 and the merger was executed at the end of October 08). The synergies and efficiencies will take up to 2 - 3 years to be fully realized across the combined company. In the mean time, two shocks have hit the industry (fuel price escalation and a global economic meltdown) which required immediate action. Since you understand business, you should also understand what management has been faced with and the choices they have to make.....
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Old Jun 30, 09, 6:37 am
  #135  
 
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
And you're simply mistaken. The NW bankruptcy was all about breaking the union contracts, and it succeeded 100%.

NW entered the bankruptcy with several $B in the bank, and its exit from bankruptcy was self-financed.
To make a statement like that, that NW's bankruptcy was all about breaking the union contracts, is way too simplistic. Renegotiating contracts is a key part of any company trying to avoid bankruptcy, just look at what's going on now, but to say that for NW it was ALL about breaking the contracts is false.
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