Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deadweight loss on Delta Airlines

I am sitting in the Delta Sky Club at JFK airport.  Made a business trip to Nice France this week to visit Skema Business School and was returning today with my colleague John McCreery.  Plane from Nice arrived early and as we cleared customs at 2:30 we saw there was a plane to Raleigh leaving at 3:10, well before the ticketed 7:02 departure on a later flight.  Immediately went to the Delta Sky Club where a very helpful person at the front desk told us we could book the earlier flight for $50 (all luggage was carryon, otherwise that would have been a deal killer).  But by then it was slightly less than 30 minutes before departure and she could not get into the system to book the flight.  She said to go to the gate and they would take care of the situation. 

The folks at the gate said we had to go to Customer Service, an obvious oxymoron for the Delta crew at JFK today.  There were at least eight people behind the counter but no one acknowledged our presence for at least a minute at which point we simply moved to the counter and asked for help.  The initial response, "We cannot do that."  In other words, just go away.  Then we explained the situation: plane does not leave for 25 minutes, we have no checked luggage, we are willing to pay $50 apiece to get home four hours earlier, and there are empty seats on the 3:10 plane (and who knows we could free up seats they could sell on the 7:02 plane).  Nope, "cannot do that." My take: these people did not want to be bothered to help anyone -- they seemed much more interested in visiting with each other. 

Finally asked to see a supervisor and she offered us a great deal: pay $250 apiece plus any difference in the ticket price that might be associated with a walkup fare.  (Delta management -- you might want to make sure your employees give consistent answers.)  At this point we were thoroughly disgusted and retreated to the Sky Club to watch football (Go Pack! Go Sparty!). 

This is a classic case of a deadweight loss, but it is not associated with government regulations or price ceilings.  We were ready to pay Delta for seats that were open but they would not sell them to us.  There really were no excuses other than Delta's thoroughly rotten employee/management culture at JFK. 

1 comment:

  1. You're not the only one who has had a bad experience at JFK of late. Check out today's MMQB column by Peter King: