I’m currently on a United flight to Vancouver for Pesach.
Over the past few days I’ve had several friends reach out to me for help dealing with Delta cancellations while trying to fly for Pesach as well.
The last week has been a nightmare for Delta with thousands of cancelled flights. Last week’s operations issues have even spilled over into today as well. The monitors I saw in the airport confirmed that Delta flights were still a mess.
2 years ago Delta executives realized that their operational performance was much better than American’s and United’s performance. Delta had several years head start in the merger wars by swallowing Northwest earlier than United merged with Continental and American merged with USAirways.
American and United were experiencing merger pains and were increasingly reliant on Delta to accommodate their customers during irregular operations. So Delta gave American and United an ultimatum. Pay a much higher rate to take care of their customers or they would rip up their interline agreement that allows airlines to accommodate their passengers on other airlines.
United agreed to the significant rate hike, but American refused. Since then American and Delta will generally not accommodate passengers for each other. And with only 3 major network carriers left in the US, that is bad news when American or Delta have operational issues.
It meant that American refused to accommodate us on a Delta flight to London during our fiasco in November 2015.
It’s actually a nice unadvertised perk when flying United that they are able to accommodate on American or Delta. American or Delta won’t accommodate passengers on each other, meaning there are fewer alternate flight options available during irregular operations.
It wasn’t the end of the world that we didn’t make it to London. London clearly just doesn’t want me there as I’ve run into airline operations issues all 3 times I’ve booked flights there. Though to be fair, all 3 times were on OneWorld’s American or British Airways. Perhaps I’ll use another alliance if I try again.
One of the many reasons I avoid ultra-low cost carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit is their lack of interline agreements with any other airlines. When issues arise, it can be days before they can reaccommodate you.
Southwest and JetBlue typically have more frequent flights and better operations. The major network carriers also have more interline options.
While Delta normally does run a tight ship, the past week has proven that no airline is immune to systemwide problems.
And their own greed which led to their lack of an interline agreement with American has meant that it has been harder for them to get their passengers going where they need to be.
It’s something to think about the next time you need to get somewhere and can’t afford not to make it to your destination.