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I Sold Out Cheap

January 2, 2015

The airline totally played me. They manipulated me. And I caught them at it. And I let them do it anyway.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Olympia, WA for a friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding. My friend and his bride and I were all in the same 6th grade classroom 37 years ago. The groom and I were best friends in high school. We stayed in contact over the years. When he decided to get married he asked me to stand up with him.

I’d never been asked to be a best man before. It was a lot of fun and I’ll probably touch on it more in a future post.

I flew to Sea-Tac airport on Thursday. Friday was the rehearsal. They got married on Saturday and I flew home on Sunday. Like most flights I’ve been on over the past two or three months it was very crowded.

I was scheduled to be in boarding group 3. I was in seat 32A. I really try to travel without checking any bags. Especially for a short 3 day trip, I packed everything into a carry on and “a small personal bag.” (Yeah, it’s a man-purse, or a “messenger bag” if you prefer.)

In the hour leading up to starting boarding the gate agents begged us to check our bags. I assumed that with as full as the flight was, I assumed most of the overhead space would be full. I got in line with about 50 other people and let them stick a baggage claim tag on my bag.

At this point I wasn’t too worried about boarding early. I had a guaranteed seat and my man-purse would fit easily under the seat in front of me. I got a shock when I arrived at the gate. I scanned my smart phone and a piece of paper popped up from the reader.

New seat assignment!

I wasn’t happy as I took the slip of paper and headed down the jetway.

I had done everything right and now Delta sprang a seat change on me at literally the last minute. I had no chance to argue.

Halfway down the jetway I realized I didn’t need to talk to anyone about switching my seat.


As I settled into my seat in First Class the woman next to me struck up a conversation.

Did you get bumped up too?

Yeah. Right at the gate.

Us too. My husband and my daughter are 2A and 2B. I wonder why?

Maybe because we checked our bags?

But, a lot of people checked bags. Maybe it’s just our lucky day.

Two days later I figured it out.

To: Rodney Bliss
From: Delta Airlines Customer Care
Subject: Tell Us How We Did On Your Flight From SEA to SLC

Brilliant. Give a customer a free First Class upgrade and then ask him what he thought of the flight.

What would you do?

I gave them Excellent marks all across the board. Why wouldn’t I? Was I a satisfied customer? Absolutely!

I felt a little bad about being so easily manipulated. But, actually, I was so impressed with their marketing strategy that I gave them the benefit of the doubt for anything that might have been less than excellent. And besides, it’s a 90 minute flight. There’s not much you can screw up on an hour and a half flight.

Do you think my survey results are anonymous?

Personally, I’m not sure. I doubt it. And if Delta is willing to buy a good review for the price of a First Class upgrade, I’m kind of hoping they pay attention to my survey answers.

Afterall, I have some cross country trips coming up.

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