Even though it seems like this situation has been beaten to death, I wanted to throw out my 2 cents on the Delta situation with US men’s curling. As an avid sports fan and av geek, especially with Delta, I feel it is my duty to weigh in — although, I know better than anyone there isn’t too much weight to my claims.
To summarize the events
After the US men’s curling team’s gold medal winning match on Saturday, there was a tweet sent out from their account requesting Delta for an upgrade on their flight home. As the old saying goes, “shooters shoot” — and in this business, the most successful shots seem to be landed on Twitter.
Unfortunately, for the golden boys, Delta replied saying that they “don’t have any upgrades to offer.” While I think that it was in Delta’s best interest to reply, I also believe they learned a valuable lesson in how exactly they reply.
If you followed the Olympics at all, especially within the last few days, the men’s curling team has been all anyone can talk about. With men’s hockey out of it, and women’s hockey already claiming their gold, this was the last bit of Olympic glory Americans had to latch onto. So it was no surprise that mainstream media, along with the loyal patrons of the Twitter-verse, would take this “denial” as an opportunity to slander Delta at all costs — in the name of Patriotism!
Delta’s first mistake
Whether you like it or not, Twitter has become the most effective and efficient way to interact with airlines. While you can still file a complaint through a website, or email customer service, no other medium will get you a response quicker than Twitter. Granted, it may not be the response you wanted — but a response nonetheless. I think ultimately this was Delta’s first mistake.
I am not going to try and pretend like any customer service job is easy. Whether you’re answering phones or replying to people on Twitter, you are most likely dealing with angry people, or greedy people — and usually there is a combination of both. These customer service reps who are replying on Twitter do a great job of replying to as many people as possible, and I’m sure when you see a blue check mark there is even more of an urgency to make sure you reply. While I personally don’t see any issue with the wording of the tweet, I think when you post this for the whole world to see, it gets twisted every which way. And that is really where “AJL” shot Delta in the foot.
Either don’t reply at all, or make sure you carefully word your delivery.
What could have been done to avoid the situation.
My immediate reaction to this tweet was — “don’t reply.” Thousands of tweets are sent to Delta every day, and I know for a fact they don’t reply to every one of them. Simply, play dumb. While it might’ve stirred up a bit of suspicion given how popular the curling team is right now, it would’ve gained far less publicity than “denying” the team an upgraded seat. Which leads me to my next point.
After reading the tweet a second time — after it had been festering a few hours — it really all came down to how the reply was phrased. The team was not denied an upgraded seat, there simply wasn’t any room available for an upgrade.
If you are reading this, you probably have some semblance of how airline upgrades work. Airlines don’t pick at random, the day of the flight, who is lucky enough to be upgraded. Every single seat on the plane is highly scrutinized by the airline to ensure the most amount of money is going back to the airline. As quickly as possible Delta, and any other airline, wants to ensure that they are flying a full flight — especially half way across the world. While there are plenty of flights when the premium cabin is not full, this was obviously a full flight headed home from the Olympics, and there just wasn’t any space available for Delta to upgrade them. It is also worth mentioning that they were asking for an upgrade for the whole team! To get one person upgraded is reasonable, or even two, but to ask for a whole team of [I’m guessing] 5 people is a bit outlandish.
Nevertheless, the agent made it seem like they “could not offer” any upgrades — implying there were upgrades available, he just chose not to award them. I understood that the cabin was full, but obviously the majority of people did not. Obvious lesson learned here to “tweet” with care.
Delta did the best they could, as always.
Honestly, things like this piss me off — but it is something we have to live with. People sit behind their computer, as I am right now, and throw haymakers at just about anyone who rubs them the wrong way. Usually, those “Twitter trolls” don’t have much knowledge on the matter at hand, and something as simple as this gets blown out of proportion. Unfortunately, on the other side of that, is the public perception. While many close to the airline industry fully understand that Delta was acting in their best interest here, the greater public perception was that Delta has now become a traitor to America. And rightfully so — my next post will be a detailed plan on removing Delta and all its employees from this country.
All joking aside, Delta obviously meant no harm, and I think everything worked itself out. Some of the members of the team even spoke out in support of Delta.
From the looks of it, the curling team, as well as some other Olympians were well taken care of on the flight.
I’m pretty sure I would NOT have given up my (presumably) Delta One Suite from Asia to the US just to make a point — but good on you Gary Balter. The real issue here is why these guys were stuck in economy in the first place? Whoever bought their tickets should really be the one getting questioned here!
I think it was by no means the intention of the curling team to stir up all of this, but seeing these tweets after the fact brings me back to one of my original points — if you want something done, take to Twitter. While it may not have been the most gracious way to go about it, it looks like the team got taken care of on their way back to the states. And you have to wonder if all of that would’ve happened had the tweet not been sent?
I hate the idea that so much power can be given to such a simple form of media — but it is also kind of amazing at the same time. Whether we like it or not, social media is the most powerful outlet there is right now. I think this is another case where it was blown out of proportion, but nevertheless, there was action that came out of it.