An Airline Gets it… Right?

17 Oct

In these days of security pat-downs, rising travel costs, and seemingly ever-declining customer service, it’s with great interest that I read the story of Mile Runners — freakishly dedicated travelers who go to great lengths (literally) to rack up frequent flier benefits. My favorite part of the article, however, was the official response from Delta:

We take mileage runs and our customers’ commitment to maintaining their SkyMiles Medallion status as confirmation that we’re offering highly desirable benefits to our customers. The lengths our customers will go to gain and maintain their miles are impressive, and we take it as a compliment. [read full story]

I mean, wow — here’s an industry with very real challenges gracefully acknowledging the positive aspect of their powerusers. More importantly, they’re taking the right approach from a customer service and media perspective. And rightly so; everyone wins in this story:

  • Delta gets confirmation that frequent flier benefits are attractive
  • They get some free advertising for said benefits
  • Mile runners get a bit of glamor with their specialized knowledge

All of the above is a win-win for any company and its superfans, especially a company facing the sometimes very public challenges Delta and other airlines surely do every day. Props to Delta and spokesperson Chris Kelly Singley for getting this one right.

I don’t know that I’d ever take up mile-running, but it’s good to know the industry might be behind me if I did.

What do you think? Did Delta do right? Or do you have a similar example to share? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Recent travel photos. More over at Instagram, or on the web at

Thanks to Mary Julia Smith for inspiring this story. See also: Shira Levine, MilePoint.

9 Responses to “An Airline Gets it… Right?”

  1. Bob Stocking October 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Not only do I think Delta got it right, but their support for mileage runners is more evidence of their commitment to frequent fliers. I’ve heard the occasional negative comment about Delta’s service (I could insert the name of any airline there, since there is no limit to the amount of disdain anyone is allowed to heap on that industry), but as a Diamond flyer for two years now, I have nothing but great things to say about how they treat me. I see great patience and professionalism amongst Delta employees, both on the ground and in the air, and their response to the mileage runners shows me they really are understanding how customer service should work.

    • rsmithing October 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      Now that’s what I’m talking about. Thanks so much for weighing in, Bob!

  2. billiondollarswag October 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I had no idea this existed. I would be pretty choked to fly all the way to Japan or Germany only to see the airport, but I guess in the long run the points you gain could get you a first class ticket to that same destination. Maybe with Calgary’s new 1.4 Billion dollar International Terminal investment there will be some opportunities to really take advantage of this points system. Although, if the flight path mentioned started in London, Ontario (an airport who’s majority of customers are either students or convicts), I am sure I would have no problems.

    • rsmithing October 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      Not so sure I’m ready to go to London, Ontario — although I’m sure it’s wonderful — but this whole concept is intriguing. Hey, at least you’d be rolling in style, no?

  3. On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, we appreciate the commendation of our customer service and positive focus in your blog. We also would like to thank you for your loyalty as a SkyMiles member and look forward to your continued patronage.

    • rsmithing October 19, 2011 at 10:38 am #

      Wow, thanks for commenting, Heather! In fact, I am a SkyMiles member — full disclosure — but that entirely aside, what inspired this post was Ms. Singley’s positive articulation of the corporate stance. It would be so easy and typical to see a ham-fisted “this is abusive… we’re shutting them down…” response, but taking the positive approach so publicly will surely reap more benefits (heck, it inspired a blogger, for what that’s worth). Keep up the great attitude!

  4. Huffygirl October 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    As you saw by my recent post, I consider airline travel a special kind of Hell. I can’t imagine purposely subjecting myself to unneeded travel for the purpose of miles. Some things just aren’t worth the cost in time and frustration just to save some actual dollars.

    • rsmithing October 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

      Oh, it’s a stretch of the imagination for me, too. But for the frequent business traveler (with some time to kill, no luggage, tolerance for lines) it might work. Still… wow. Thanks for commenting!

      • Huffygirl October 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

        Thanks for subscribing to my blog, BTW. I hope you stop by often to share your witty (or not witty) comments 🙂

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