I came across a FlyerTalk thread recently with the headline reading, “Serious question, why do people choose to remain loyal to Delta” (or something like that, I can’t seem to find it)–so I was obviously intrigued. I have started travelling regularly for work over the past year, and before I really knew it I was pledging my allegiance to an airline. I usually have options from all the major domestic carriers and I have always stuck with Delta, this was before learning about the infamous Sky Pesos.
I don’t plan on changing my allegiance any time soon, but reading through this thread made me consider why I have remained loyal.
- Location, location, location…
The most simple reason I choose Delta is because of where I live. I live in Baton Rouge, LA, and anyone familiar with Delta knows they are king of the Southeast. Going through Atlanta, they service just about every airport, large or small. And I honestly find the Atlanta airport to be extremely efficient. In comparison to some of the other large airports I have traveled through, Hartsfield-Jackson easily takes the cake. So while I am always connecting, there is plenty of availability.
- Operational errors
I have heard far too many horror stories in regards to missed flights. Although no airline is exempt from weather or mechanical issues, Delta is easily the best at handling situations that arise from uncontrollable circumstances.
As someone who is always having to connect to get to my home location, Delta makes the process of connecting flights a lot less stressful. If your flight is delayed to the point that you are in jeopardy of missing your connection, you are automatically given a ticket on the next available flight. And even better, if you somehow are able to make your flight your seat is only given up at the last minute.
- On time record
The table below shows the rankings of most on-time arrivals per US airlines. Hawaiian and Delta easily take the cake. Based on my ‘decision’ to choose Delta, the comparisons were with American and United, both of which fall to 6 and 8 respectively. In the world we travel in now, any percentage above 90% is pretty remarkable.
- The people
There are destined to be some unpleasant interactions when you fly on a weekly basis, but 99.99% of the time I am incredibly pleased with the interactions I have with Delta employees.
- And finally, I have status, thus I keep status
And finally, having status is no easy feat anymore with the large American carriers– let alone a top level status worth real value. And keeping that status is even harder. So ultimately, I find myself where a lot of other frequent travelers are– stuck with an airline whether you like it or not.
I am currently a Gold medallion, getting me
- Sky Priority Boarding
- Unlimited complimentary upgrades (I am usually upgraded to Comfort+ and occasionally FC on at off-peak times)
- Waived baggage
- Same day confirmed flight changes
I’ve reaped many a reward with these benefits. Many a free drink in Delta’s Comfort+ cabin, my first time being treated to a First Class meal service, and some big price savings on luggage. (But let’s be real, those upgrades and free drinks are all we’re worried about)
With the many perks come the downsides, but ultimately it is about making the best of those downsides.
Even though people complain about the consistent devaluation of the SkyMiles program, there is still small availability out there if you look hard enough. Gary Leff talks about the incredible availability Korean Air has in the US, a transfer partner with Delta. You won’t be able to transfer to get First Class, but Korean flies all over the US, so the award availability has to be there somewhere.
The final leg…
The theme of this blog is supposed to be one that doesn’t admit to knowing all the best practices. So while I think Delta works for me right now, I will continue to learn and may figure out that Delta just no longer cuts it. All major US carriers will eventually have to follow suit with the revenue based model, so in that regard the playing field will find its level. But as a regular traveler, a lot of the things mentioned above go a long way in gaining my loyalty –and I believe many others. While the value of my points may not be going as far as I’d like, I’m perfectly content now with my (almost) automatic upgrades.