I have been a frequent traveler on various airlines for much of my business career. I held gold on British Airways for so long that they used to let me use the Concorde Lounge at London Heathrow (home of the best bathrooms on planet earth). I used to be Chairman’s preferred on US Air which pretty much gave me my own booking agent and memorial engine and there have been several years when I covered more than one LU…(an LU is a Lunar Unit…or the distance from the earth to the moon roughly 250,000 miles or ten times round the earth ) in one year. Suffice to say my laptop has been X-rayed so often it glows in the dark.
In any event I have traveled on Delta quite a lot recently, in many cases with my wife. In pretty much every case of every leg we have been separated by the Delta booking machine. A husband and wife couple traveling on the same reservation under the same name one of whom (me) is willing to take the middle seat routinely are uniquely separated on Delta. This doesn’t wash with my honey so I typically end up paying the $29 surcharge to relocate one of us to at-least fairly near the other with a valuable aisle or window seat then we negotiate the last row or so with the gate agent or our fellow sufferers. I thought this was just the annoying luck of the draw….then upon further investigation by my honey it turns out it isn’t.
I’m going to type this slowly and carefully so you can take in the grandeur of the idea. Delta is deliberately separating couples and families then charging the same people they deliberately separated a premium ($25-$30) per person so they can have the pleasure of occupying a cramped middle seat in coach. It’s an evil strategy but a puzzling one too. Let’s assume the flight is pretty full (most everything I fly nowadays is) with 200 desperate souls paying an average of $400 each. Let’s now assume that half of those are couples and they get to pick up $25 of artificial annoyance money from half of those couples. That means that they inconvenienced and annoyed 100 passengers for an annoyance bounty of roughly $600 or 1.5% uptick in revenue from the couples on the plane. Delta is annoying and inconveniencing half of its fliers for just 1.5% revenue improvement. I hate this scheme…it’s stupid, mean spirited marketing and ultimately I believe it will be counterproductive. I now I have a reason not to fly Delta and I will continue not to fly them as often as I can….and I reasonably sure I’m not alone in that respect.