Delta Air Lines Isn’t Maintaining Its Cabins As Well As It Used To [Roundup]

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. All airlines are nothing more than a city bus. Just getting people (cattle) from here to there.
    Airlines don’t care about how nasty the ride is from point A to point B.

  2. I think we have seen “peak Delta” and it is my perception that the brand has been in gradual decline since the pandemic. It’s tough to stay on top forever…

  3. I agree with GKK that the DL brand and quality is in decline. IT has been in shambles for ages but is getting worse by the day. I spend $3k+ with them on a business class flight and what do I get? $1 in MQDs and no bonus miles.
    I decided to give AA more business. At least their program is relatively straightforward, and their IT actually works well.

  4. Delta is so overrated. It definitely continues to do things a bit better and differently from its peers, but I’ve been on plenty of Delta planes this year that are filthy or have deferred maintenance issues, such as insulation drooping from above the window panels, broken seats, unclean cabins, and many, many more of the flight attendants seem to have adopted the American Airlines approach to service.

  5. Thank you shoeguy. I have been saying DL isn’t the DL of 5 or 6 years ago for before the pandemic. The planes are old and often poorly maintained, the cabin crews are not “stellar” just average and the food is the worst. I also dislike the IFE systems, most don’t work or are old and you lose a huge amount of storage space under the seat. Those 757 and 767 and old A320 family planes are the worst and the seats are not 32 inch pitch, more 30-31. AA and UA have caught up and find AA’s and UA’s international fleet head and shoulders above DLs. I know what to expect on AA, and frankly it is working plane, internet that’s fast, good inflight entertainment , large overhead bins and good service, DL is a crap shoot these days. DL isn’t climbing, they now just “get you there”.

  6. DL is not the DL it was, but it’s still better than AA that is and the UA that is. DL has been overly distracted with terminal modernizations and LGA, LAX, SLC and JKF among others while also focusing on the SCs. In the mean time, cabin cleanliness has taken a massive hit, in-flight service consistency is tanking and the call center is a dumpster fire.

    Hopefully this is a temporary blip, but I doubt it.

  7. Everyone has anecdotal evidence to support their viewpoint. Actual data overwhelmingly says that Delta commands a hefty revenue premium which is growing and they get less DOT complaints and rate higher than their peers in just about every quantitative industry analysis. The clouded view some have is clearly not because of the object being examined but rather the lens and processing mechanisms.

  8. Funny thing is that as bad as Project Oasis was at AA for ripping out IFE and densifying planes, it did leave all those planes with new seats and fresh interiors. Some of the worst maintained planes these days seem to be the unrefreshed DL 738s and Jetblue’s 190s.

  9. Tim Dunn never disappoints does he. There could be a turd in the aisle and he would compliment DL for offering warm brownies.

  10. Though recently reposted (slow news day I guess?) to the original site the Royal Hawaiian incident and article are both from August 2019 and the arrests were made in 2019 too. Old news indeed.

  11. David,
    quite simply, the people that are prone to exaggeration in how bad Delta is don’t have anything good to say about anything else.

    If Delta was as bad as some people here say they are, they wouldn’t have such a large revenue premium and wouldn’t be heads and shoulders above everyone else in consumer complaints and customer service metrics.

    I know it hurts but some people to admit it but some people are pathological liars that would make up any story to suit their ends.

  12. FYI- The jetBlue guy was a gate agent, not a flight attendant. Do some fact checking before posting false information.

  13. Tim,
    quite simply, you lack objectivity when it comes matters related to DL. Therefore many of us seldom take you seriously when you comment. Your posts have more comedic value than substance.

  14. @Tim Dunn, isn’t a lot of the (past) revenue premium due to fortress hubs that allow them to charge more? UA’s financials seem to have caught up to DL’s, even without the fortress hubs.

  15. well, no, UA’s financials have not caught up to DL’s. They generated a profit margin in one quarter that exceeded DL’s by more than 1% – because UA kept a bunch of old widebodies and cashed in on the summer travel boom last summer. by the 4th quarter, AA and DL all had much profit margins in line with UA.
    DL has now gone through one quarter of paying industry leading salaries for ALL of its employees as a result of raises, AA has agreed and UA and WN have yet to come up w/ a proposal that pilots will accept.
    UA will spend 3X the amount on fleet spending that DL will spend – even larger multiple than AA – and UA will not lower the fleet age lower than those 2.

    And the biggest driver of DL’s revenue premium is the amount of revenue it gets from its loyalty program and credit card deals. Far more than any other airline in the world. To no surprise, sites like this one are full of people that talk about how DL is getting it all wrong.

    The reason why some people don’t want to hear what I have to say is because they don’t want someone to point out the various obvious factual data that they don’t want to hear.

    In reality the naysayers are simply jealous that their airline is not as successful as DL.

  16. @Tim, so the extra DL revenue is due to credit card deals with the banks and not because people are paying more for an elevated product? Also, after a quarter of UA exceeding DL, the airlines are in line with each other, in spite of UA paying more for the new and updated fleet? So UA’s revenue situation must be pretty healthy to offset the cost of the hundreds of planes delivered recently.

    Thanks for clarifying.

  17. I said the LARGEST reason for DL’s total revenue premium is because of its credit card program – not the only one.
    There is ample evidence that DL does get more revenue per seat mile for TRANSPORTATION services, not just ancillary revenue such as credit cards, the refinery and Tech Ops maintenance services.

    UA has simply NOT yet taken delivery of more aircraft YET. You cannot compare what UA will do in the future with what other carriers will do. UA’s debt will soar.

    UA got a big revenue bump because they held onto older aircraft while other airlines retired many older aircraft and will be working with a much more efficient fleet = and spend much less supporting that fleet including for debt service.

    And other airlines are STILL taking delivery of more new generation aircraft. DL will put more aircraft into service this year than United. and the same could well be true for 2024 as well depending on how quickly Boeing gets the MAX 10 certified.

    Life and the airline industry is a marathon. UA has yet to prove that is changing the trajectory of the industry in its favor. One quarter does not a trend make.

  18. @Tim, UA has taken delivery of almost 200 new aircraft over the last couple of years. Do those not count?

  19. Mark
    Of course every new aircraft counts but United still has not moved from having the oldest fleet among US airlines – which says that UA started from a deeper hole and has still not climbed out of it.
    Other airlines are taking delivery of new aircraft but didn’t have fleets that were as old and also had more amenities before UA started its big push to update its fleet.
    It doesn’t help that Boeing still has yet to certify the MAX 10 which is a key part of UA’s fleet plans but Boeing will certify the MAX 7 and WN will get it before UA gets the MAX 10

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