Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lack of Intelligence at Delta Air Lines

Alright, this has nothing to do with Business Intelligence.  I just feel like ranting and raving while sitting in an Oklahoma City hotel room. 

My schedule changed while at a client site here, so I thought I would catch an earlier Delta flight home tomorrow morning.  In about 12 hours, there are several Delta flights with empty seats going to the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport.  I decided to grab one of those unused seats.

I had initially paid $535 for the roundtrip Delta ticket but then changed my plans to arrive a couple of days earlier.  Delta promptly hit me with an additional fee of $352 ($150 penalty for making the change plus any difference in the "value" of my original ticket). 

So when I considered also making a switch on the way home, I fully expected to be hit with yet another $150 fee, bringing the roundtrip ticket price to over one grand.

I tried to change my flight on, but their online reservation system wasn't working.  Instead, I had to call the 800 number shown on the screen. 

The Delta representative quietly listened to my shock when she told me that I would have to pay an additional fee of $675, raising the total cost of my roundtrip ticket to about $1600 (not to mention the checked baggage fees for $50).  I politely declined Delta's offer to rape and pillage a long-time SkyMile customer (who by the way had just shelled out to Delta Air Lines another $400 for the privilege of sitting in their SkyClub room).

After hanging up the phone, I decided to see what other airlines charged for a one-way ticket from OKC to CVG in the morning.  I checked Travelport's and was surprised to see that I could get on tomorrow's Delta flight for $500. 

If that was true, I could just not show up for my scheduled flight, buy a new ticket for an earlier flight, and save money (sort of). 

Yet something didn't sound right.  My first call to Delta had been through a general 800 number with a person who seemed to struggle understanding what I wanted, so perhaps she gave me the wrong figures.  I decided to try again with the SkyMiles phone number.

I heard the same comment: "Tomorrow morning's flight will cost an additional $675; is that something you would like to do?"

Jim Borgman at Cincinnati Enquirer is one of the best cartoonists!

If I were a new customer wanting that Delta seat, I could have gotten the flight cheaper.  But because I was an existing SkyMiles customer already scheduled on one of their flights, they put the screws to me.

Back home in Cincinnati, Delta Air Lines is getting ready to pull out of one of their major terminals.  Not long ago, Delta shut down the CVG Comair commuter flight concourse.  They dropped my direct flight to OKC.  Poor flight times force me to travel to OKC on Sunday nights and leave on Saturday mornings.

Despite having loyally flown Delta for about 20 years, I am now ready to say, "Good riddance, Delta." 

If Delta Air Lines has such tough financial issues that they must resort to cheating their regular customers, then it is time for them to go out of business.  Or at least leave Cincinnati, where consumers expect companies to behave decently.

(Do you think Delta employees read blogs?  I'll let you know if my luggage mysteriously disappears on the flight home.)

Sunday (04/25/2010) note: In case you are wondering, yes, I had a rough time traveling home, but I'm not saying this blog or Delta Air Lines had anything to do with it.

Thunderstorms forced my incoming OKC flight to remain on the Memphis tarmac for close to an hour.  When I finally got off that plane and walked through the rain into the airport, the 9AM Cincinnati connecting flight was announcing final boarding. 

While waiting for the 2PM Cincinnati flight, another storm blew in and Delta diverted that plane to Little Rock; it arrived a couple of hours later.  When I arrived in Cincinnati, it took me a while to track down my luggage which had managed to catch the connecting morning flight without me.

Having left OKC at 6:30AM Central, I finally made it home around 8PM Eastern.

But if I have to be stuck in an airport, Memphis International is as good as it gets.  Nice people and plenty of things to do (for example, impressive Delta SkyClub, book stores, restaurants, and five different Starbucks).  If you have an extra hour in the Memphis airport, go to the Sun Studios Cafe and have the Lime Infused Chicken Breast with Brie Cheese and Grilled Onions on Ciabatta.  This is definitely not your typical airport food; it is more like a Memphis version of the Hard Rock Cafe.

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.