Delta is pretty clearly running the best all-around airline these days. Not in every dimension of course, the Skymiles program is poor compared to competitors (though it isn’t the worst). Even United’s miles are better which is saying something.
But the airline itself — reliable operation, (relative) quality product, and profitability — is performing well.
In fact, they might even be some reasonable percentage close to as good as they think they are.
- They contend their lounge product is so good that they raised lounge prices to unprecedented levels and took away complimentary guest privileges from a large subset of customers. Even though it’s an historical accident that US airlines charge for lounge access at all.
- Delta thinks its cross country inflight product is so good that they’ll no longer upgrade their top elites into it for free (although that’s thawing a bit with their willingness to upgrade elites at the airport into otherwise-empty seats).
- Delta was first out of the gate with revenue-based frequent flyer miles earning, essentially a recognition that they don’t need to spend much on marketing to fill planes these days. Their flights are full already.
- They even think they’re good enough to play hardball with their airline alliance partners: everyone needs Delta, so pay up.
Michael Gerson is credited with the line ‘soft bigotry of low expactations’. To use another hackneyed cliche’, in the valley of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
So it’s with mixed emotions that I watch lots of excited coverage over new food options at Delta’s Skyclubs.
Here’s the new morning menu:
The list of breakfast items takes up 27 lines but only because they separately list each muffin flavor; both honey wheat and plain english muffins get their own line; each of 4 cereals, 2 yogurts, and 2 milks get their own line; 8 spots are devoted to butters, jams, or spreads; and they even tout ‘mixed raisins’.
Here’s ‘Lunch and Dinner’:
Each vegetable… each dressing… broken out separately. These are light snacks, and they satisfy the Checkers TV commercial definition of why you’d eat those fast food hamburgers… “You gotta eat.” But there’s nothing exciting here.
On the one hand,
- It’s better than before
- And better than the free options offered by other US airlines.
On the other hand,
- It’s hardly good by world standard.
- It’s not close to as good as it tries to appear.
- It’s in no way worth the big price increase for a same-benefits membership, compared to what was offered before.
The big marketing promises that underdeliver following the price increases shouldn’t be surprising to careful observers: the former head of Skymiles is now in charge of the clubs!