Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian has written a public apology to customers and frequent flyers for the carrier’s failure to adequately staff its reservation and customer service centers resulting in hours-long hold times.
“As you take a much-deserved vacation or travel to reunite with loved ones, friends and business colleagues, the last thing you want is to experience long hold times when you call reservations or receive a notification that your flight schedule has changed,” Bastian wrote in a letter published on Tuesday.
Bastian blamed the “unexpected pace” of the return of travel demand for the issues which have so far not been dampened by the highly transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus that shares the same name as Delta.
What Bastian didn’t say in his letter is that Delta slashed the number of staff working in its call centers by 50 per cent at the height of the pandemic in a desperate bid to cut cash burn. The airline is now having to recruit new agents and even bring back retired staffers as contractors.
“We know you expect more from Delta and assure you that these challenges are temporary,” Bastian assured on Tuesday. “The Delta team is here to serve you and is taking significant actions to alleviate these pain points,” he continued.
Hundreds of retired agents are now back working the phones while the airline recruits and trains 1,300 new employees. The specialist training, however, means that this isn’t the quick fix that frustrated frequent flyers are hoping for.
Bastian will therefore be hoping that a new phone IT platform will speed things up. The system promises to give agents more details about a customer’s travel so that questions can be answered more efficiently. It remains to be seen how much of an impact the system will actually have.
In the meantime, Bastian is hoping that customers will use ‘do it yoiurself’ alternatives on the Delta website or mobile app. And if that fails, Delta is hoping to win loyalty another way – by giving it away for free.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Delta frequent flyers with Medallion Status will have their status automatically renewed through January 31, 2023. And those frequent flyers who are already traveling will earn “enhanced benefits” and continue earning at an accelerated rate.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.