In Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker asks the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi why he claimed Luke’s father was dead — when at the end of Empire Luke learned that Darth Vader was his father.
Luke: Ben! Why didn’t you tell me? You told me that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered my father.
Obi-Wan: Your father… was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and “became” the Sith Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So, what I told you was true… from a certain point of view.
Luke: A certain point of view?
Obi-Wan: Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.
Delta executives, it seems, spent too much time watching Star Wars films as kids and wanted to be Obi Wan Kenobi using the Jedi Mind Trick on customers.
They claimed to be named a “Best Travel Rewards program by U.S. News for 2017-2018” with the ‘a’ and an asterisk in the full press release doing a tremendous amount of work, since the survey they’re highlighting ranked them behind Alaska Airlines but their fine print claims they’re really only comparing themselves to American and United.
In Delta’s earnings call last week they repeated the claim that US News ranks them best global airline frequent flyer program without the asterisk explaining that they’re making up their own category, that this wasn’t how US News ranked programs, and that the survey said Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan was better. (And indeed Alaska’s Mileage Plan is a global program with partners that take you all over the world.)
We’re very proud of our SkyMiles team. SkyMiles is on pace for another record enrollment year and placed first among the U.S. global airlines in the U.S. News & World rankings are airline loyalty programs.
It’s not just SkyMiles where their fingers are crossed making claims of course. Claims that are at best as true as Darth Vader remains alive and ruling the galaxy.
In this upside down world Delta’s Executive Vice President Glen Hauenstein says “We believe we do have the best-in-class Basic Economy product.” And he says what he’s proud of is a product “that people don’t really want” once “they see what exactly it is.”
Let that sink in: Delta is proud to offer a product that’s so bad people don’t want it.
It’s true that Delta’s basic economy is better than United’s and American’s basic economy because they allow customers to bring carry on bags onboard when purchasing these fares. (It is also true that Delta’s basic economy is inferior to Southwest Airlines, jetBlue, and Alaska Airlines economy.)
And it’s also true that Delta plans to roll these fares out internationally — fares Hauenstein says people don’t want. Their strategy is to offer a product that is so bad customers don’t want to buy it. That is a broken business model.
Basic economy isn’t a lower fare. It’s the same low fares airlines were already offering, with new restrictions so that customers hate the product. And the hope is that if they hate the product enough they’ll spend more for something that isn’t as bad.
It’s a fare increase on customers willing and able to pay more, and a punished experience for those who will not or can not. Delta thinks this contributes to revenue but not nearly at the scale that United and American expect.