See below for an update.
Historically airlines have sugar-coated changes. When they reduce the value of their loyalty program, increase fees, or otherwise making the travel experience more cumbersome, they tend to couch changes as enhancements.
We should be happy that we’ll get fewer miles, have fewer seats with extra legroom, and a more difficult time earning elite status.
A given change may be good or bad for the airline’s business, but either way airlines are rarely candid with what they’re doing. They speak as though they think we’re too stupid to know the difference and to me that’s even worse than making a change I don’t like.
Remarkably, recently several airlines have been on a streak of blunt candor.
- Air Canada devalues its elite benefits and declares ‘we are not a charity’
- United makes it harder to get elite status and says their problem is too many frequent customers.
Regardless of whether each carrier made the right move, and no matter what you think of their logic, they aren’t spinning what they’re doing as improvements, changes you’re going to like.
Now Delta’s Turn to Be Brutally Honest.
“We never issue vouchers or upgrades – unless there’s a major benefit to the airline – even if we bump passengers, injure them, lose their luggage or leave them stranded in Detroit in January,” the spokesman said.
- Update: Travel Pulse has since removed this quote from its piece, so I can no longer rely on its provenance or veracity.
Of course, Delta took the position last year in front of the Supreme Court that a consumer has little recourse in court even if they don’t honor their contracts. So why should they?
Is that the right position to take — that they won’t issue compensation to a passenger even if they injure that passenger — unless there’s a major benefit to the airline to do it?