By Pablo Diaz
Delta Announces Massive Hiring, New Customer Satisfaction Measures
In a letter directed to its employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has acknowledged that there are serious shortcomings in customer service as passenger demand is ramping quickly up, and in more than one occasion the current structure has failed to take care of customers needs.
“After a year of lockdowns, it’s been heartening to see so many of you returning to the skies this summer and reclaiming your lives. While we are pleased to welcome you back, the unexpected pace of the return of our customers has resulted in some unforeseen challenges as we ramp up to meet demand and handle a record-breaking level of calls,” Bastian said in that memo.
While the CEO has defined these challenges as “temporary,” he admitted that “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.” With that in mind, Bastian said that is ready to address the issue with four measures:
First, Delta is accelerating staffing and resources to reduce wait times on the phone and at the airport, as agents on the phone and at the airport have experienced an unprecedented level of questions about travel policies and schedule changes. That has resulted in significant wait times, and the company is both hiring more than 5,000 new agents – about 3,000 Airport Customer Service Agents and 2,000 in other service staff areas – and is updating the service platforms both for customers and agents to get better information to passengers faster.
Delta is also expanding digital tools. By reinforcing the company site and the Fly Delta app, Delta refined the step-by-step guide to cancel or make changes to a trip, and has determined that expiring and newly purchased tickets in 2021 will remain valid through Dec. 31, 2022. Starting tomorrow, customers booked in Basic Economy can make changes to their flights for travel occurring through Dec. 31, 2021 to help address call wait times as we increase staffing. As with all Delta flights originating from North America, there are no changes fees.
To focus on improved network planning to avoid stops and diversions, Delta is focusing its network planning teams on minimizing changes in our schedule by utilizing the information provided by demand and recovery scenarios among current flight operations.
Delta is also aiming for an improved loyalty program. Delta will extend the Medallion Status validity through Jan. 31, 2023, along with any Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates the traveler may have. Those currently traveling to achieve or maintain Status will be recognized for their loyalty with enhanced benefits and continue earning at an accelerated rate. The airline is also extending the ability for Award Travel to count toward Status through Dec. 31, 2022.
Bastian states in the memo that Delta is “committed to restoring and exceeding the reliability and service you’ve come to expect from us,” as the recovery has presented a new set of challenges for all operators and all are taking accelerated steps to match both the renewed demand and the expectations of a market that after a year and a half of isolation, is eager to fly again.