It’s been a rough week or two for United Airlines, and that opened up a prime opportunity for another airline to cash in and grab some clients. Enter Delta.
After the debacle of the “volunteer” getting dragged off a United Flight, one of the biggest questions being asked is, “Why didn’t they just offer them some cash to see if anyone was willing to take a few bucks to stay an extra few hours in the airport?” United still hasn’t answered that question, but Delta beat them to the punch.
Directly on the heels of the United PR disaster, Delta released a statement saying customers can now be offered nearly $10,000 for giving up a seat on an overbooked flight. Now, that doesn’t mean everyone who volunteers will be given the ten grand, only that Delta representatives can now offer UP TO about ten thousand dollars.
That total is quite a jump from the previous number of around $1,350. Now, that’s not saying anyone will ever be offered the top price of $9,950, but that is an interesting way for Delta to get attention in a week where their competition is absolutely being hammered for horrendous customer service. The point here, though, is not the specifics of the total, but the optics of the release. Delta is taking the opportunity to tell flyers, “hey, look, we have your best interests at heart. We care about you…” the unspoken addendum, of course, is “we care more than they do…” No need to explicitly say which “they” is in question.
Of course, Delta was not just taking advantage of a competitor’s misfortune. The airline needed a PR win of its own after a recent rough patch. A spate of bad weather messed up Delta’s flight schedules going in and out of one of the country’s busiest hubs, Atlanta International. Thanks to the weather and the compounding delays, Delta got way behind, and the flight plans grew increasingly messed up. In the end, the airline had to cut more than 3,500, aggravating tens of thousands of customers, some resorting to extreme rants and constant social media updates to express their frustration. Delta finally got back on track, and they have begun trying to patch things up with affected customers, mailing out cash vouchers and airline miles. No word yet on how well this gesture is being received, but you can bet Delta is happy to be in the news for a positive reason these days.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.