I agree with everything you’ve written about the power failure, but I still have very little patience for Delta or commercial airlines in general. In an effort to maximize profits, airlines have done everything they can to make flying as difficult, uncomfortable and unfriendly as possible:

  • The seats and legroom are smaller and grow increasingly smaller
  • What used to be a basic economy seat is now premium economy and comes with a hefty price tag
  • People can no longer check a reasonable piece of luggage free of charge so airplanes are even more crammed with luggage that should go in the hold
  • In economy, you rarely get to pick your seats when you book and the computer system seem to default to splitting people up as a mechanism to make people pay for upgrades
  • Multiple times I’ve had airlines overbook their flights and try to bump me, with very poor communication to explain what’s happening

Flights are a great luxury for many people. The price of an economy seat may be the most expensive single purchase many people make in a year or more. Airline service is much of a muchness, meaning that none seem to offer a better, more empathetic service than another so customers, while spending a lot of money, don’t feel like they have any choice. Airlines don’t need to treat us well, because if we want to fly, they know we’ll put up with it. They know this and they let us know this regularly.

This brings me to Delta. Over a long period of time, they’ve built a toxic relationship with their customers so it’s hardly surprising that these same customers would react angrily to this failure, which (I agree) was simply an unfortunate technical glitch. Delta is responsible for the relationship they’ve built and the sense of distrust flyers feel. When people whine and complain, it’s because Delta and other commercial airlines have established themselves as the bully and customers feel powerless. People know that the airlines don’t care about much except for increasing share price at their customer’s expense.

I wasn’t flying Delta the other day, but I completely empathize with the frustration of the customers who were. From some of the tweets you linked to, it sounds like maybe you had insider information that customers didn’t have access to. That’s probably another example of poor communication.

Airlines don’t need people like you to defend them. They’re doing just fine and will continue to do fine because, as they know, people aren’t going to stop flying because of crappy service. We’ll continue to put up with it and yes, maybe we’ll occasionally whine and complain because there’s little else to be done.

Writer and reader. Director of UX for Store Management at Shopify. Formerly designed with words at Facebook. Based in Toronto. http://amythibodeau.com

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