Let’s talk about an airline for a minute. The core purpose of an airline is transportation between points on a map. The free Coke and pretzels, even the miles, are somewhat secondary. I look for three things in an airline – reliability, convenience, reasonable (not cheap) price. Everything else falls into something I call nice to have. I’ve been called a Delta apologist, and I’m OK with that. I’m not an “apologist,” I just happen to appreciate it when an airline accomplishes my three favorite airline things well, and Delta happens to do all of that very well overall.

But to my question – is Delta so good at what it does that I’m spoiled? Let me tell you today’s story. I’m so often on time with Delta that when things don’t go well, it’s an event…..something that I notice. Today, I noticed. I am on the 3:20pm flight to somewhere as I type. Of course, I arrived at the gate at 2:50PM to find the airplane at least 60 percent boarded, probably more. No worries, I was able to board through the Sky Priority lane, and even find a place for my bag just a couple of rows away from my Comfort+ seat. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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All was well until about 15 minutes prior to departure when I received a message from Delta letting me know that my 3:20PM flight was now delayed until 4:15PM. A few folks around me received the same message, but of course it was just about departure time, or a little after before anyone from Delta bothered to make an announcement. The Captain actually came out into the cabin and announced the delay (ATC flow), including a 4:50PM wheels up time. Swell! And then we waited….and waited….and waited. The crew handed out water, which is a good thing, but nothing else was said for nearly an hour until one of the crew announced that nothing had changed. Long story short – we almost departed at 4:15PM, but apparently leaving an hour late was not enough notice to prepare the flight’s final paperwork. We waited a little more, before that finally showed up and we were on our way. In the end, I’d say our wheels left the runway at 4:50PM as promised.

Probably a routine delay, but back to my question – am I spoiled? Have I become so accustomed to Delta’s top-notch operational reliability that when things go wrong, I feel it’s impact more? I ask because this delay annoyed me more than I think it should have. I’m not one to resort to Twitter to gripe, but I did. What could have made it less annoying?

  • Not boarding the flight and making me sit on the plane for 90 minutes for no reason
  • Communicating early and often (If I’m sitting on a Delta jet I shouldn’t learn of a delay via text and not hear anything about it from a Delta employee for another 15 minutes)

After reflecting, I probably am a little spoiled by Delta. In the scheme of things, this wasn’t a bad delay, but it could have been made a lot less annoying with just a little bit of communication and perhaps, a bit of reflection on whether or not boarding should have started so early. And after typing this, I feel better. 🙂 Sometimes a guy just needs to vent.

-MJ, March 26, 2015