The Strangest Things You Can Do in an Airport and Delta’s Latest Lie

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Delta lies about air traffic control.

    Delta’s indefatigable Steve Dickson penned an op-ed for USA Today, based on this piece of work, to which both Nav Canada and I responded, since it was so false to fact. Here are two gems from that report, both stated as fact in the op-ed.

    First, by egregious misinterpretation of routinely published date, Dickson claimed that over its history Nav Canada’s ATC fee levels have increased by 59%. In fact, from 1999 when those fees went into effect through 2014, the fee level has gone down by more than 30% compared with Canadian inflation. Second, Dickson cited a local aviation fuel tax increase by the provincial government of Ontario, a cost burden that corporatization of ATC did not prevent. Well, duh! State governments here are also allowed to impose fuel taxes on aviation, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with the cost of ATC.

    There are similar howlers in the 10-page “study.” For example, on p. 6 it appears to blame the phenomenon of Canadian passengers crossing the border to depart from U.S. airports like Bellingham, WA on high Canadian ATC costs. Wrong! The problem stems from higher airport costs, due to (a) the high lease payments Canadian airports must make to their federal government, and (b) the much higher PFC levels in Canada. Neither has anything to do with Nav Canada or ATC. And on p. 9 it cites the report of the U.K. Airport Commission about reduced air service between the North of England and London. But that report had nothing to do with the U.K.’s ATC corporation (NATS); it was about the lack of runway capacity at Heathrow and Gatwick, which is entirely outside the control of NATS.

    This sort of deliberate misrepresentation is a sign of desperation. If the facts don’t support the case you desire to make, apparently Delta thinks it’s OK to make up its own story.

    Improvements in air traffic control would relieve congestion, but air traffic congestion is good for Delta in New York where it controls so many slot. And they’ve bet heavily on old aircraft, which would need new technology investments to work with air traffic control upgrades.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary

    I am a retired DL ground staff employee. (Ticket/gate) 1968-2000. Delta was and continues to be extremely good to all of us. I love the industry and your blog. However I also can’t help but see extreme bias in your reporting. I’m not denying that Delta does what you say, I just find it hard to believe there is never anything good to report. The converse could be said about AA. I like all the airlines and have no animus against any of them. I feel as though your reporting on DL borders on the grudge level. Other than that I enjoy the blog.

  2. @Jim Atkinson – as you write, “I’m not denying that Delta does what you say” … I make the point often that they run a strong operation. And other airlines have faults, which I point out. In my experience though there’s no carrier that lies to its customers as often or as egregiously, and while all US airlines are subsidized there’s none that’s so brazen in their pursuit of government favors as Delta (and that includes United whose chief executive lost his job over his involvement with the chair of the port authority of new york/new jersey).

  3. Delta is a great operation but from a mileage hacker’s perspective it is the worst. So of course people here will be biased against Delta.

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