These readers who comply with this blog will know that I’ve very clear opinions on airways, loyalty, and customer experience. Additionally they know that I journey a fair amount for each business and pleasure, and that I’ve skilled unbelievable and surprising acts of customer support as well as unbelievable ineptitude by both airline staff and fellow travellers.
Earlier this yr I shared a narrative about an incredible flight attendant on Delta airlines whom I thanked, together with Delta, on Twitter and this blog, with no response or acknowledgement. I’ve additionally shared my perspective on the fickleness of airline loyalty based mostly on their “you’re solely nearly as good as your last buy” perspective. Airways usually are not the one ones in my frequent flyer crosshairs; I published a rant about my frustration with the number of airline passenger personalities that conspire to place me the mad-house.
The purpose is, I’ve had my fair share of eye-opening experiences at airports and with airways, and particularly with Delta Airlines to which I’ve given my loyalty for almost 10 years (including my years on NorthWest, a Delta acquisition). I’ve typically thought, primarily based on the variety of irritating experiences I’ve had while traveling, that I’ve a goal on my again. A sign that says, “Hey airways, come kick me!”
The fact is that, given my career, I am hyper-sensitive to customer expertise issues and take exception to the poor experiences, particularly when the answer is so easy. Yet, corporate tradition, greed or simply plain ignorance often overrule good business follow, common sense, and improved customer expertise.
At the moment’s story is inspired by one more business trip on Delta airlines.
Delta and WestJet – a partnership of convenience, not customer experience
Earlier this yr, Delta, “the world’s largest airline,” proudly introduced a partnership with the Canadian airline WestJet. Its press launch touted the benefits that this new pairing would deliver to customers travelling between the United States and Canada. The union would offer more flights to more destinations across both countries.
Passengers now can connect between WestJet and Delta flights at greater than 25 gateways in Canada and the United States. “Delta is happy that its clients now have easy access to WestJet’s in depth Canadian community as well as WestJet’s trans-border providers between Canada and the United States,” stated Charlie Pappas, Delta’s Vice President of Alliances.
The fact is that the partnership gives further routes and delivers doable value-financial savings to Delta airlines but penalizes Delta’s loyal customers who’re forced to fly WestJet.
As a frequent flyer, I used to be able to fly from a Canadian city to any metropolis within the US or past on a Delta flight and, in fact, enjoy the basic and optionally available advantages afforded to common clients and the upgraded benefits afforded to frequent flyers like myself. These embody the choice to check in on-line or at airport kiosks, pre-choosing a seat, and/or pre-purchasing a premium seat. As a frequent flyer, I used to be also afforded the good thing about no-charge premium seat alternatives, the possibility of free upgrades, entry to precedence lanes at security, and early boarding. Companies I appreciated, and have come to expect when flying Delta.
After the Delta-WestJet interline agreement was announced, the majority of flight segments between Canadian cities and US cities are transferred to WestJet. At first I used to be excited concerning the prospect attributable to WestJet’s typically constructive fame. Nonetheless, as I discovered, WestJet does not acknowledge my frequent flyer status. The truth is, they do not recognize me as a buyer at all. Let me clarify.
How I Lost My Earned Benefits
WestJet does not recognize the loyalty and status earned by the 1000’s of dollars spent with Delta, and so does not supply the advantages promised to Delta’s Medallion members. For instance, when the flight is operated by WestJet, we can’t view seats, choose a seat, or even check in online because the flight is operated by a code-share associate. We are also unable to do that on the WestJet site because it’s a Delta-issued ticket.
We will not even check in at the airport kiosks and so are compelled to queue up on the airport customer support counters with the intention to be manually checked in and assigned a seat. I’ve spent as much as forty five minutes in WestJet customer support queues at the Toronto airport, just to examine in – something that I may have done in seconds on-line or at a Kiosk if the flight was operated by the airline I purchased the ticket from.
Including insult to damage, as a result of we will not pre-select a seat or digitally verify in – totally free or for a fee – we’re sent to the land of misfit toys: center seats and final-row-by-the-washroom seats.
Once we lastly get our boarding passes to the worst seats on the airplane, we cannot entry precedence lanes or early boarding advantages earned by our status and loyalty with Delta as a result of the boarding passes are issued by WestJet which, once more, would not recognize our standing. In short, we’re being penalized. The promised benefits that were to be prolonged to loyal customers who’ve spent 1000’s of dollars with Delta, aren’t accessible.
The truth is, WestJet appears to think about Delta clients much less beneficial than its personal prospects who purchased the lowest possible ticket fares. These prospects are afforded the choice to view on-line seat maps, purchase an upgraded economic system seat, and verify in online. Even pay-for-service choices usually are not made out there to prospects of WestJet’s “valued associate airline.”
The Satan Is In The Particulars
I understand the business worth for Delta in this partnership. Connecting to WestJet’s Canadian routes permits Delta to seize the income previously given to Canadian airlines. In return, WestJet operates a few of the Canada-to-US segments that Delta airlines used to fly. This protects on airport fees and other charges associated with maintaining workers and planes at Canadian airports. Presumably, the online distinction is a constructive line merchandise on Delta’s monetary assertion. Shareholders rejoice and the executives’ already exorbitant salaries are augmented.
While executives and shareholders are lighting up stogies and patting themselves on the back, loyal clients, these of us who’ve helped make Delta the most important airline on the earth, are tossed apart.
The problem is that the partnership is a interline agreement; WestJet didn’t develop into part of the SkyTeam Alliance. Medallion advantages are extended throughout SkyTeam alliance airlines and flights.In accordance with the press release, the settlement allows WestJet and Delta customers to buy connecting flights on one ticket, receive boarding passes for all segments at their first check-in, and tag bags by way of to their final vacation spot. It says nothing in regards to the decreased buyer experience for Medallion customers.
The moral of the story is that corporations often overlook the small print relating to the client expertise with their brands and it is these little particulars that may have the best impact on brand notion. I wrote this post to level out the importance of customer expertise and that comfort and “world-domination” tradition can’t supersede that experience; it must the guiding principle in all enterprise selections and the execution of these choices must be then vetted in opposition to the goal of superior buyer experience.
Is there any actual worth in airline loyalty programs anymore or are they advertising facades designed to steal our business?
Are loyalty applications mandated marketing tools which have lost contact with their original objective?