This morning we learned that Delta and American re-started their interline agreement allowing each airline to book seats on the other carrier in the event of irregular operations. It’s limited to this re-accommodation function, but that’s what customers primarily care about and it’s the key item Delta refused to allow in September 2015.
I wrote that this was Delta ‘eating crow’ having said they didn’t need this, and insisting on charging American substantially more than other airlines pay in these situations. One reader argued I wasn’t characterizing things fairly, arguing it’s “hard to say they’re eating crow when you dont know the terms of the deal.”
At the time I knew that:
- Delta initiated the talks
- Delta backed off of their demands from two years ago
- A source at American with knowledge of the discussions referred to this as ‘eating crow.’
American now confirms that that:
- Delta approached them about being able to re-accommodate passengers on their flights in the fall (before the Atlanta power failure but after numerous systems meltdowns over the past year and a half).
- The deal that was agreed to is similar to the deals they have with other carriers and neither side is paying a premium in this re-accommodation agreement.
In September 2015 Delta posted to their media site that accommodating customers on each others flights only helped American because Delta’s operation was just so good. They didn’t need it. So they expected to milk a premium to help American’s customers.
“Thanks to employees’ stellar operational performance, Delta customers enjoy an industry-leading experience. Unfortunately, we couldn’t reach an agreement with American that adequately addressed the number of IROPs customers that American transferred to us,” said Eric Phillips, Senior Vice President – Revenue Management. “In July, for example, American sent passengers to Delta for reaccommodation at a five-to-one ratio. At that rate the industry agreement was no longer mutually beneficial.”
Like Icarus they flew too close to the sun. Their IT systems shut down in August 2016 when they falsely blamed Georgia Power for the issue. Their IT melted down again in January 2017. Then a combination of weather and IT systems unable to function properly obliterated their system in April.
Last month Delta still claimed only weather could ever cause them to cancel flights again.
However each time their operation melted down there was a basic criticism at the ready — that their greed meant they didn’t have access to seats that would be able to help some of their customers. So they’ve gone and rectified that.
One wonders what United is thinking now, though, having been willing to pay the premium that Delta insisted on a little over two years ago. It’s time to re-negotiate I think.