I have a brief business trip this week. The flights are short, but I am seated in a rather unfavorable location on one of the flights. I’ve been checking the seatmap on Delta.com every so often for a few days. I don’t know whether I was tired or just had a momentary brain fizzle, but it suddenly occurred to me – set up a seat alert on ExpertFlyer.com. As I opened a browser tab, I immediately thought “what the heck are you doing? You’re flying Delta and you can’t use ExpertFlyer!” Like I said, I must have been tired. 🙂 In the end, I laughed it off and moved on. However, I couldn’t help but think — this is one of those tiny little things that really annoys me about Delta, an airline I’ve bragged on often for doing the right things well. I still believe they’re a good airline that does most things very well, but minor little annoyances are….well….annoying. Here are three things Delta could tweak to become less annoying to this traveler.

ExpertFlyer – You saw that one coming, didn’t you? A Delta manager asked me what I could get from ExpertFlyer that I couldn’t get from Delta.com shortly after Delta blocked the service? In addition to seat challenges noted above, ExpertFlyer is useful in making judgements about which flights to change to when I finish a meeting early or finding alternative routings during off-schedule operations. I don’t mind Delta.com, but it isn’t so well-soaked in sheer awesomeness that I like looking at it five times a day to see if I can get out of a crappy seat. (For the record, I did get out of that bad seat.)

Companion Upgrades – Delta has one of the most complicated upgrade algorithms known to mankind. I’m certain rockets have been launched with fewer mathematical calculations than it takes to figure out where one might fall on a Delta upgrade list. There’s one thing that isn’t complicated about it though – have the nerve to fly with your spouse/companion in the same PNR and you get glued to the bottom of the list. Somehow, other airlines, notably American, manage to offer companion upgrades in a way that you might actually get to fly together. Yes, I know how to split a PNR. My point is that I shouldn’t have to for the proportionally few times (two or three?) in a year I get to take a trip with MrsMJ. (I might have worked two annoyances into this one. I’m not a fan of complication when it comes to customer relationships. I digress.)

About that Y Fare Top of List Thing – I say this a bit sheepishly because this little annoyance has benefited me a small number of times. I’m all for giving some upgrade priority to full fare passengers, but a Y fare trumping everything? Real world example. On a business trip a few months ago, my manager decided to join me to get a look at a project at the last minute. Manager is a Silver Medallion who qualifies on segments. I am a Platinum Medallion who qualifies on miles. Last year I flew 3 x more miles, flew 2 x more segments, and spent 3 x more money on Delta than the manager. However, that was all for naught when it came to that one Y fare flight. Manager gets upgraded. I sit in coach. Now…don’t get me wrong, I’m glad my manager was up front and not the other way around on that flight. But I have to admit – seeing my status trumped first hand was a little annoying.

Let me ask you – are there some little things about Delta that annoy you? What are they? I’m guessing the SDC policy is going to score highly with a lot of people, but that didn’t quite make the cut on my list. Yes, I know “SkyMiles 2015” isn’t mentioned here, and that’s on purpose. You know where I stand on revenue based programs. It is what it is, and I know it annoys many. But aside from that, what are some minor little policy or operational tweaks that Delta, or any airline for that matter, could implement that would make them easier to do business with from your perspective? Comment away.

-MJ, January 27, 2015

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