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Why I no longer fly Delta Airlines – The consequences of unrestrained yield management techniques.

March 5, 2014

For decades Delta has been my preferred airline. I’m not exactly sure how my preference evolved to that point but I’m sure why it’s no longer true. It’s all about how Delta’s obsession with yield management has led them down the path to treating passengers as little more than fodder for their revenue machine.

Does anyone remember the old days when aircraft were boarded from the rear? There was a certain simple, efficient elegance to that approach. However, boarding efficiency ultimately have way to the fiscal seduction of the incremental revenue gained from “prestige class” boarding. Airlines recognized they could exploit passengers’ preference to pay (either through cash or reward mileage) for the convenience,or rather status, of boarding a few minutes earlier than their fellow plebeian passengers.

The efficient boarding from the rear of the aircraft gave way to zone boarding. It was only a short time before Delta abandoned any pretense of efficient boarding and fully embraced price discrimination based on boarding zone. This turned out to be a slippery slope that easily integrated into Delta’s ever expanding portfolio of customer locality programs.

I fully appreciate the science of revenue/yield management and acknowledge that the airline industry continues to extend and expand that particular science. But, at the same time, I wonder if the people jockeying for position at the gate and struggling with their overhead baggage recognize hat they are just pawns in the incremental revenue management game being played by the airlines.

The only option for passengers to reverse this trend is to vote with their wallets and choose airlines that are not as mercenary as Delta in their application of yield management techniques. Honestly, I’m not sure which airlines those might be but for my next flight rest assured I will look exhaustively for an airline that is less advanced than Delta in the science of price discrimination and its subsequent impact on passengers, especially the casual traveller.

Disclosure: This was written from row 32 on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Fort Myers with baggage between my legs but content passengers in first class, business class, gold medallion, silver medallion, bronze medallion, economy plus, zone 1, and zone 2. The cattle call was complete, albeit with a late departure, despite the fact that the equipment was at the gate well before the boarding was scheduled to commence.

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One Response to “Why I no longer fly Delta Airlines – The consequences of unrestrained yield management techniques.”

  1. Conrad Says:

    Lufthansa is the WORST airline.
    Unfortunately, all airlines are heading down this road with new offerings including cramming an extra row for economy class just behind the bulkhead. (disclosure, I recently flew Lufthansa and will never fly them again.) Instead of paying more for a little legroom in economy plus, an economy traveler on Lufthansa will pay the same ticket price as before, but get no leg room at all. I would love to see a Lufthansa executive sit just behind the bulkhead in economy class and spend 10 hours with their knees rammed up their nostrils. If hotels did this, we’d all go out of business.


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