Stay Classy Delta


I found this gem of an article yesterday.  Apparently the delays and customer service at Delta's JFK hub is so bad that a riot ensued and police were called.

I know I've been pretty vocal about how bad T2/T3 at JFK are and this just proves my point that Delta's JFK operation is remiscent of a third world country.


Hunter December 24, 2009 at 01:15 pm

Any particular reason you feel the need to call out Delta every time they have a problem, despite the fact the other majors have their own set of issues?

Fozz December 24, 2009 at 04:04 pm

@Hunter Actually, if you noticed I called CO out and also recently called US out (more on that to come).

As for DL, for an airline that claims to be world class, they are anything but and I do have a particular beef with them in the NYC market.

A few reasons:

1) While AA, B6 and CO built new facilities before denoting JFK/EWR a hub. DL has done nothing and made no real investment and it shows.

2) When slot-controls were lifted at JFK a few years back, DL ran the flight schedule up as much as they could. Not only did this impact JFK, but LGA, EWR and PHL. Now they sit their and complain that it's an ATC issue.

3) DL doesn't like competition and NYC is very competitive. How many times has LAX been hubbed/de-hubbed? DL left DFW because they didn't want to compete. In reality, it's only a matter of time before they leave NYC as well.

4) I have yet to receive any of this stellar experience from DL. I've already put 60k on DL and the in-flight service has been on par with CO and UA and the on-ground experience has been awful when compared to UA and CO.

5) The continued devaluation of Skymiles as you even admitted.

6) It's not every day a riot ensues in the US. Had been anyone else, I would have likely commented on it. The fact that it was JFK T2/T3 just made it that much better.

Hunter December 24, 2009 at 04:22 pm

You did call out CO, and they deserved it. But calling US out is like saying that you are taller than a midget. So let's look at your points:
1) You're sort of right. But search "delta jfk investment" at Google and you'll see that they have tried (while not always being successful) and that they continue to try. If you don't like it (which you don't), stay out of T2/T3.
2) Their actions here simply show that they are doing what they need to do to be competitive. IT IS, in fact, an ATC and Port Authority issue.
3) They have left DFW because of AA and they were right to do it. LAX has been a problem. In reality, they will never leave JFK. They make a ton of money on the BE product in JFK, and they know it. They have been there since the 1991 fall of Pan Am, and you would need to pry that airport out of their cold, dead hands before they left.
4) I have no idea where you are getting shorted here. I need more information.
5) True enough.
6) Also true.
Here's my point: "The fact that it was JFK T2/T3 just made it that much better." OK, Fozz - you have a grudge here that we really aren't getting at, despite your list of points. So until you come out and tell us what it is, why don't you lay off DL and spread the love?

Fozz December 24, 2009 at 04:51 pm

@Hunter: To your points.

1) Delta has put money into JFK, no doubt, but not to the extent the others have. Seriously, AA, B6 and CO all funded major terminal developments. Delta has put band-aids on T2/T3. Yes they have spread into T4, but that's not really their terminal.

2) I don't see how contributing to the problem makes it someone else's issue. Prior to the slot-lifting, JFK was fine. After it, is another issue. Sure, AA, B6 and DL all added flights, but DL saw the biggest growth.

3) My point was that DL avoids competition when it can. LAX and DFW were both examples. Even CVG which was a fortress hub has been abandoned. As for JFK, while DL has had a presence their since 1991, it's only in the last few years they've put any real focus on it. For years after the acquisition JFK was on auto-pilot just holding down the routes they acquired.

4) Nothing particular, just the overall experience was just average.

Yes, I do have a real issue with Delta. Most of my experience with DL is JFK based and that may be a contributing factor. The JFK staff is beyond surly, often MIA and the Skyclub folks at JFK have been down right rude and don't even know about their own policies. Furthermore T2/T3 is what a lot of people see when they first come into this country and it's an awful representation of the rest of the country. Take all that and the corporate attitude of "We're the biggest so we're the best" makes for a bad experience.

Do I think all of Delta is bad? No. As a matter of fact i've had some good experiences as well, one of which i have a pending blog post on.

Hunter December 24, 2009 at 05:21 pm

OK. Now we're getting at it.

You're right when you say that they haven't invested as much as others, but at the same time, I have never seen the problem with T2/T3. And you're right when you say T4 is not DL in any way shape or form. On the topic of slots, we could, in fact, look at it as everyone's problem, but the nature of capitalism steers me away from that point. You can't blame DL for taking advantage of opportunity. DFW and LAX were less than profitable, and they were shut down. CVG was never a competition issue - DTW and MSP were too close, and you had to throw the NW passengers a bone. DL competes where it makes sense to compete - like in New York.

I wish you had experienced something better at JFK. I personally find that JFK staff is far nicer than the staff at any other hub, possibly excluding LAX (outside of the sometimes - surly LAX SkyClub people). I've never had anyone be anything but nice there. I'm far from a New Yorker, so I would think that I would be biased towards thinking that they are jerks. I'd suggest that you complain, but we all know that your complaint will end up in the trash.

Biggest and best though they try to be, they often fail. My point was that they don't fail as often as the other majors. Thanks for taking the time to clarify.

Fozz December 26, 2009 at 02:07 am

@Hunter: If you're saying that DFW and LAX were less than profitable, why are they going back to LAX? I realize CVG was never a competition issue, but I have no idea why they left it.

As for JFK, I don't think it's the gold mine you think it is and I also don't think Delta wants to compete. A great example is the dropping of JFK-BOM.

As for not failing, it's all a matter of personal experience. People complain all the time as to how bad CO and UA are, but for the most part I don't feel they fail. Perhaps I was just expecting too much from DL.

Hunter December 26, 2009 at 09:52 am

LAX is being used as a Pacific and South American gateway - that's it.
Let's not get carried away and throw the term "gold mine" around. JFK T2/T3 is hardly a gold mine - I'm just of the opinion that it's not as bad as you say. An again, Delta competes where it makes sense to compete - which isn't everywhere.

AS January 4, 2010 at 07:04 pm

For what it's worth, JFK T3 used to be much more pleasant before the TSA took over. Much less crowded and plenty of gate and terminal space for domestic and international use.

TSA has taken up so much space, they've blocked half the walkways in that terminal. The dividers are ugly. There is no logic to the 4 or 5 entrances and too many TSA people watching rather than working.

Delta didn't do themselves any favors when they kept changing their strategy on T2. First it was Business Class and Elite passengers. Then they said London and Florida. Not sure the flavor of the month right now.

Adding AirTrain near that front entrance of T3 was a bad idea too, it's not convenient and not equipped to handle it, and if they rebuild the terminal they will still have an inconvenient connection to AirTrain.

Even without physical changes at JFK, it would seem Delta could reorganize gate usage, and improve the signage at the entrances of the Terminal, to better use all the doorways and improve passenger flow for local passengers.

Fozz January 5, 2010 at 12:47 am

@AS I can see your point about the TSA doing it's thing with T3, but there is also the issue of it operating a lot more flights then it was originally designed to.

When Pan Am built that terminal it never had the domestic network that DL is trying to grow out of JFK, it was almost all international. The building was never designed to handle the kind of traffic it sees and that is becoming more and more evident.

Until this year, the last time I stepped in T3 was when the roof-top parking deck was still open and Pan Am was flying out of it, so it's been a while.

As for T2, it appears to be BE and Elite, but they must be directing other people as the last few times going through there has a lot of people who don't look like they fit into either group.

I believe London is now in T4 along with LAX.