The Delta Between Airline Service

My dad just finished building a house in Southern Florida. He's been very forward of late in his invitation to visit. To my brother, too. So when Jon & I finally coordinated schedules, considering his daughters' school vacations, we finally agreed on a date. Turns out the week we're going is the biggest week in Florida for cabin fevered east coasters — spring break. Fares are high this week. So I decided to try to liquidate some frequent flyer miles. Delta Airlines had the best schedules. Now getting any good flight on miles is either massive god luck, a miracle or an airline mistake. They just don't want to make it easy. Typically, anyway. So I secured a great flight direct from Orange County to West Palm Beach. One stop in Texas, but the same plane. Coming back was a challenge however. The only way for me to get back at the time I wanted without cutting my trip to less than 48 hours was to get a double hopper back to Orange County. West Palm. Atlanta. Salt Lake City. And finally Orange County. Reluctantly, I took it.

My pipe dream rationalization had me travelling with my new 17″ PowerBook, so I'd be able to use the idle time to catch up on writing my book. And while Apple promises to ship on or before March 24th, somehow I'm doubting I'll have it in hand mid-April when I head east. […] Ok.Here's the good stuff. So the Delta agent explained to me, nearly two weeks ago when I made this reservation, that there was a direct (same plane) one stop flight to Orange County for my return, but was unavailable for reward travel. I inquired as to the possibility of more seats released in the future. She said sometimes. But not likely. She encouraged me to call back and if the flight opened up, I could change my reservation without penalty. I explained to her that once my reservation was made, it would be likely that I'd not think about the flight till my morning departure. And that my bags would remain unpacked until two hours prior to flight time. I'm that way travelling. Drives some people crazy. So I asked the Delta agent if they could call me if it opened up. She explained that she could put me on a waiting list, but told me not to get my hopes up. The agent was very good about managing my expectations.

Yesterday my mobile phone rang with a “restricted” number on the caller ID. Normally I don't answer these calls, but some serious project coordination and meetings over the last week meant could be something important. It was Delta. A nice agent explained to me that my flight opened up and that she had put me on the more convenient flight. I was blown away. The only other time I got a call from an airline was when my flight was cancelled. Delta Airlines gets my vote as best customer service. I did fly a Delta/Air France combo flight to Budapest last summer. Equally a pleasant experience. Yet as a “free frequent flyer” passenger providing absolutely no revenue to the airline, the fact they went out of their way to handle my request is amazing in this era of airline service reduction and cost-cutting. Bravo Delta. You've moved to the top of my list. Now I just wonder if Apple might blow my expectations away…