Why DL sucks compared to UA: a factual case of vacation travel and the Phorusrhacos

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by redtailshark, Dec 31, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Christmas vac. SharkJr and I flying from PHX-BOS.

    Book cheap tix on CO.COM. Vacation trip so lowest-fare, G class ticket. We receive companion UG at the 1K window on the SFO to BOS transcon. RJ to SFO so nothing can be done there.

    Maybe DL's planes are also light on biz travel and even PM on low fares receive UG this week...but... on an DL equivalent itin, there would be no companion upgrade. Because it's NOT POSSIBLE on L, U, T class tix.

    So score for UA.

    Then wx at SFO causing delay at PHX. OK, we might miss the connection. I see SharkJr and I are already protected on the next SFO-BOS flight, the bookings show as Y. But nevertheless despitet eh delay we launch for SFO and we make it, just, scuttling across the gates and joining the very end of the Zone 24 boarding line. I anticipate, our luggage doesn't. But at BOS - abracadabra - both checked cases appear! Great!

    Now I cannot say whether DL would have transferred the checked cases successfully, or whether they would have anticipated the irop as well as UA - but they couldn't have done any better.

    The UA FA service in F was excellent on this flight, worth a positive note to the UALsurvey website afterwards. I agree this isn't always the case, but anyway, so far, so great.

    Now, we're at the family ranch in New England.

    Next up, I want to change the return itin for Shark and SharkJr. Award tickets, booked ages ago for the only day they can travel. It's not great, involving bad outbound timing and the Y cabin on a transcon 752. Availability changes, yes indeed. So just now I search CO.COM and find fifteen new F cabin options for two pax including a civilized one at Saver mileage levels in F to PHX.

    Never mind the functional awfulness of DL.COM which would have added stress and harassment to the deal. Under DL, even if inventory were magically available, this would simply NOT BE POSSIBLE! We're within the 72-hour timeframe for depature on that sector and you know what that means. Too bad so sad.

    Anyway, let's say DL ops/irops handling worked as well as UA's system did. That still leaves two major aspects of this travel that simply would not have been possible under DL SM regime whether I was Diamond or Kryptonium.

    Is DL F worth it to sit there when my companion doesn't get UG? Is it worth condeming the family to a 6am launch because I can't find Saver options for return travel at short notice and even if I can, they're unbookable?

    Apologizing for DL and making excuses why they won't deliver is one thing. Or weighing their other product attributes against these shortcomings and deciding it's worth it, sure, I can see why that's rational. But doing so while claiming DL's offerings are competitive with UA - in regards to companion UG conditions, specifically, and usability of SM vs MP - is the way of the ostrich. Or the dodo. Or the phorusrachos.

    I spend too much of my time in a/c cabins to not want the benefits as published. Those benefits are of major value. That's why it's time to spend out for next years itins...on UA and Star as often as possible.

    As we've said before, DL revmgment calculus is myopic. They consider only the marginal cost of the booked flight against simultaneous DL option costs (factoring in SM and other systemic debits) and not their capacity to induce future and ongoing discretionary revenue. In search of minor marginal revenue/less liability on this kind of itin, they forgo a swathe of future bookings many of which are for biz and are booked in the higher fare buckets. Classic.

    But please you guys stick with DL. Or, go to AA insteAAd. Because I don't want you trumping me for UG on your employer-sponsored high fare-class itins as 1K or GS!

    PS: Yes, it always feels more satisfying to post these missives using DL's (or BA's electrons). The jouissance, ah, a perfect start to the New Year weekend!
     
  2. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    LUT(E) are all eligible for complimentary companion upgrades, so I'm not sure what you're smoking on this one. Of course, DL chooses to upgrade elites first, so companion upgrades are a complete crapshoot, but all published fares are eligible.
    UA had a lower elite in the back in favor of shark Jr. Whether you see that as good or bad depends on your place in the pecking order and how frequently you fly with companions.

    I did recently upgrade with my wife booked on separate PNRs. UA's policies do not permit this. Score for DL?
    Sounds irrelevant to me.
    I think most agree that this is a major issue.
    Why would you take the upgrade and leave your companion in coach? The opposite is far more civilized.

    Companion upgrades have pluses and minuses. Yes, UA clears companions earlier, but that pushes back a lower-tier elite, especially with some of UA's smaller F cabins. It's not all roses, and the requirement to be on the same reservation can be a bit onerous. I think my wife and I flew together on the same reservation once this year, but were on the same plane several times additional. Swapping UA's policy for DL's, we'd have lost the upgrade on one flight and gained it on another. Upgrading your companion ahead of lower elites is great at the top, but less so for lower elites. Not allowing upgrades on separate reservations is probably necessary with this system, but certainly has its drawbacks.

    The usability of SM vs. MP is certainly an issue, but still one that can be overcome, depending on your level of flexibility.

    That, of course, is another concern of DL flyers - we still lack a published program for 2012. If the status quo is maintained(and assuming you can deal with SM redemption), for mid-tier flyers, I'd say DL beats UA, for low-tier UA looks to be starting to race DL to the bottom, and at the upper tier UA may have a few more favorable policies. This probably means mid-tier is in-line for some devaluation.
     
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  3. commander flatus

    commander flatus Active Member

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    i'm just going to throw this out here -
    i got silver medallion in sept/oct and had 3 trips remaining for the year - total of 6 legs. got complimentary upgrade on 3 legs with companion upgrade for my wife on one of those legs (the only trip she was along for).
    I also got booked for first/biz elite msy-mad and back for the low mileage rate. - 100k so about 5 cents/mile.
    soooo, i'm pretty pleased with DL and SM...
    i'll also acknowledge that if you want lounge access and any reasonable availability out of MSY, it's about the only game in town.
     
  4. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    I've been flying with United for my entire life and was pleasantly surprised on my last trip on DL. My husband and I got complimentary upgrades because of our AS status. I have to admit I think DL has a better domestic first class product than United and they had pillows, blankets and snacks in Y. :eek: The deal killers however are the Skypesos program, the nasty smoking sections with no doors in the SLC airport (their hub), and no free upgrades to Hawaii which is where I do 90% of my flying, but overall I was impressed with the airline having not flown with them since maybe the mid-90's.
     
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  5. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    At one point,i thought DL did give segment upgrades to/from Hawaii for pax with Hawaiian addresses. I may be wrong, or this may no longer be the case.

    It is worth enquiring. For those who don't live there, a virtual move could be in order?
     
  6. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    I believe that was PMNW. It's an eternal source of frustration for one prominent PMNW, HNL-based poster on TOBB.
     
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  7. USAF_Pride
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    USAF_Pride Gold Member

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    Say what you want, but the companion upgrade at PMNW was better run than DL. Top tier elites companions SHOULD BE upgraded at the window of the HIGHEST level vs. the lowest level of the person on the PNR.
    NWA rewarded their top tier much better than DL ever has (and I am speaking from personal experience)!!

    We can agree to disagree, but IMO the customer service benefit of upgrading a DM companion over a FO/GM (who rarely gets upgraded anyways) encourages their HVC, and I am not talking DM-Lite here, to keep flying them. We all know how the crappy companion upgrade works and the 2 choices you get to pick from; refuse the upgrade or sit separately. We also know how well DL.IT/Dumb:confused: handles the refusal as you very rarely can get seats next to each other (I've called and told them not to upgrade me, but yet they do it :mad: Then trying to get seats back together is next to impossible, so you might as well taken the FC seat anyways) :mad::mad::mad:
     
  8. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Wasn't there anything else that NW did better? Like, run their entire operation and program in a way that delivered more value to the loyal customers? This is just one aspect.

    True, NW is no more. And indeed, my mistake to believe that companion UG on DL are confined to booking classes above LUT. So perhaps my companion would have been upgraded on DL a transcon (SFO-BOS)....maybe.

    However, UA is in the windshield, side windows and rear view mirrors for DL. And they deliver a similar service level for companions that NW did...treat the companion of high-status elites the same

    Like AF and KL used to treat NW elites during the days of a meaningfully functional alliance...

    There's no escaping the facts. DL SM sux rox in so many ways.
     

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