How Delta Air Lines is pissing off passengers

Delta - LAX-DTW-ERI-004I recently became a big fan of Delta Air Lines after witnessing first-hand how they treat members of our military and how they do a nice job giving free upgrades to their frequent fliers (they still have the worst frequent flier program in terms of redeeming miles at their lowest award level, but that’s another story).

My beef with Delta is how they encourage their flight attendants to push their Delta American Express credit cards in the middle of the flight. I can understand that the airline and the flight attendant want to make more money (they must pay the flight attendants a commission) and build brand loyalty, but there’s a time and place for everything—and the middle of a flight is not one of them.

It seems that the head flight attendant usually pushes the card for a second time an hour before landing, which is when most passengers are sleeping, watching movies or working on their laptops. The last thing they want to hear is some flight attendant get on a loud PA and speak for two to three minutes about the perks of a credit card. Actually, the last thing passengers want is to hear the pilot get on the horn and say we’re having mechanical problems. But you get my point.

Each time I’ve heard a Delta flight attendant makes this long, disruptive announcement, I’ve watched the passengers around me grumble and shake their heads in disbelief. I’m one of them, too. Yes, the Gold card is a very good one. We’ve even written about it and its many perks on this site. But don’t make a second announcement. Just make your first plug after the safety briefing. Or if that’s not good enough, run a silent commercial on the screen. But making the second announcement actually turns people off and makes the airline and the flight attendants look desperate.

FYI: Each time, after they make this announcement, I watch the flight attendant walk down the aisle with sign-up pamphlets and I’ve only ever seen one passenger take one.

Have you noticed this? Does it irk you too or is it just me? I hear US Airways and Alaska Airlines does it as well but I can’t confirm this since I haven’t flown them in a while.

Comments

  1. Agreed! I can also confirm that U.S. Airways does the same thing. I just flew them into Venice, Italy and out of Rome and had the sales pitch 2 or 3 times each flight. Pahleeze, airlines, give it a rest!

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you want to see the hard sell, try flying Ryan Air or Easy Jet, where they hawk much more than co-branded credit cards.

  3. I was on a US Airways flight yesterday where they did this. It’s ridiculous and I actually feel bad for the flight attendants, as it must be one of the most painful parts of their job.

  4. Funny how there are not one, but two ads pushing the Amex SkyMiles gold card following this post…

    • Do you say the same thing about Google ads? Are you suggesting something nefarious here? It’s nothing more than good ad targeting. That’s how the Internet is supposed to work, nothing more.

      • I think you’re missing the point – on a post complaining about airlines hawking credit cards, the blogger is doing the exact same thing.. Credit card signup ads aren’t offered on all blog entries either, only if the the poster wants them there.

        • I think you’re missing the point. The spaces are trafficked by Google. The algorithms dictate what shows up, not the blogger. This is the algorithm seeing the keywords (Delta, Skymiles, Amex, etc) and putting in logical content.

  5. I totally agree. I almost always fly iS Airways because I’m based in Phoenix. They do it on every flight and I’ve had it wake me up more than once. I actually saw someone take a pamphlet last week. The first time ever. I wish they would stop the in flight announcements.

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too, Susan! I’m a FF on US since I live in PHX and I resent the fact that credit card holders get my perks!

  6. Alaska does the same thing….

  7. Kathy Forred says:

    Maybe they’d get better response if they just walked down the aisle before landing handing out the app with a stick of gum (anyone remember the days of pre-landing chiclets? :))

  8. Yes it’s super annoying and Alaska does it, too.

  9. Yep, was on a USAirways cross country flight in early morning. Everyone was sleeping and then the stupid announcement came on. Of course everyone woke up and then it was loud. At 9 a.m., with all passengers being quiet and sleeping, why would you want to interrupt them and wake them up?!?!?

  10. Jeffrey Miller says:

    Just flew US Airways and they pushed their card several times during the flights. I too was surprised.

  11. Johnny, you’re right. I’m a long time Delta FF – Million-Miler, blah blah blah – and I’ve lost my loyalty. Once, on a regional flight, an attendant told me why he pushes the Am Exp card so hard: he got his first iPad as a bonus for doing so and he wanted other gifts.

  12. I haven’t flown Delta in years because of their frequent flyer program. I am a Million-Miler on United.

  13. Not my favorite thing, but it’s a great card and there are plenty of way more annoying things about flying to get worked up about. Maybe you’re travéling too much! : )

  14. Yes, Alaska does it too but I just ignore it. It that so hard for you. Alaska does it once at the end of the flight after they have made the prep for landing announcement. Everyone is getting ready to land so they aren’t waking anyone up. I have absolutely no problem with it. I carry two of their credit cards and have used them for numerous free flights so I have no problem with them telling others about them. I just wish Alaska would follow Delta’s lead and give us one free bag if you carry the card.

  15. I cancelled my Delta Amex card, mostly because of Delta’s lousy frequent flyer program, and their lousy connections to Europe. Also, hate having to pay for leg room.

  16. Nancy Reid says:

    Too bad for the flight attendants but really in the greater scheme of life, It’s much to do about nothing. I like to keep my underware out of a knot especially when flying! LOL

  17. RyanAir flight attendants spend the entire flight selling something, even lottery tickets, but i don’t think they have done credit cards yet. I don’t mind it on Ryanair because the flights are so cheap and the flight attendants are always friendly as they are in sales mode at all times. Delta etc is another matter. Im willing to be shown a tv ad on my backseat monitor or in an inflight magazine or brochure but i don’t want a human to invade my space to sell me a financial product while inflight!. its not appropriate.

  18. @JohnnyJet, And you make your living how? …selling credit cards, right?

  19. This is good info to know beforehand. I suggest that a person stop the FF, ask for their brochure and then tear it in half as a protest. Not a word, just an action.

  20. it is like flying on the HomeShoppingChannel

  21. If this was the ONLY thing DL did to piss off passengers, I would be overjoyed!

  22. What I find most aggravatingly hypocritical about this is that if you want an extra snack, soda, or pillow, let’s say or just a friendly face from a flight attendant, you are reminded that they are there “first and foremost for your safety”, particularly in post-9/11 air travel. Somehow, the airlines will easily overlook the purpose of safe-guarding against terrorists for the purpose of their bottom line.

  23. A.M. Loeffler says:

    It is actually cheaper for the credit card company to have the announcements while in the air. Commercials on TV are being skipped over by those who have DVR’s. This way, the credit card company has a “captive” audience. Is anyone else sick of the Chase credit card commercials? In an hour show you may see it 2-3 times. On a 4 hour flight, only 2x. Not saying I think they should hawk credit cards on a flight, it is still annoying. Unless they are giving a really, really good deal, I ignore them just because they bugged me.

  24. I flew Delta recently and just ignored those pitches. What irks me is how much I have to pay each year just to have an Amex Skymiles card and the price is going up again — will use the remainder miles asap and then cancel and find another card.

  25. Agreed! I’m a DL platinum so I hear the message all the time. Last week on a flight from SAN-DTW, some kind of announcement was made at least 10 times during the 4 hour flight. So annoying!

  26. yes, it is annoying. but I live in ATL and I could give you a whole list of things Delta does that piss me off.

  27. You must not have been on a Spirit flight lately ……. they do the same thing. And now they have advertising posters pasted on the overhead bins and backs of the tray tables. I feel like I’m on a city bus!

    • @ Julie. You said you feel like you are on a city bus. Well….you ARE on a bus, just not a city bus. It’s life in the 21st century. the only thing keeping my neighbors from selling advertising on the side of their homes is a strict set of HOA rules that have teeth.

  28. Alaska needs to hear this too! Otherwise I love the Airline. (And, I already have their card!)

  29. Christopher McMahon says:

    Why is Johnny Jet writing this when he even admits that he hasn’t done any research? He doesn’t even know if other airlines pitch credit cards. …he asks us!
    What a sad state of journalism.

  30. As a marketer, I can tell you this is a bad practice.

    Every marketing engagement is a business transaction. If I interrupt you with my message, I need to deliver some tangible value. The more intrusive the message and/or communications vehicle, the better the value of the message ought to be. To interrupt me in the middle of a flight, the message better be “sign up and fly to Europe for free” (which it’s not).

    There’s a perfectly reasonable time to include the message at the beginning of the flight and at the end of the flight, both times when announcements are already being made. On flights with live TV (as many DL flights have), there’s an opportunity to trade entertainment for audience…”watch our video about this card and we’ll let you watch a show”…which DL do not take advantage of.

    Unfortunately for the airline business, too many of the people making decisions have spent their entire lives in the airline business and don’t understand how the real world works.

  31. Wow, I’m amazed anyone is actually listening to anything that is said over PA while in air. Whenever I fly I see people talking loudly, reading, sleeping and finally on laptop, phone or pad! That’s first class and coach! Plus, I can hardly understand what they are saying over PA so I pretty much tune out the announcements. You’ve got to love plane travel since 2001!!

  32. Frontier does it too! It is rather annoying. If I remember right, they do it twice. I’m sure a lot of airlines are doing that, really is sad, they want your money any way they can get it.

  33. It’s also demeaning for the flight attendants who are professional; putting them in the very uncomfortable role of hawking credit cards. Aren’t the much too aggressive “credit card hawkers” located thoughout major airport concourses enough annoyance to passengers?

  34. Steve Globetrotter says:

    Frontier Airlines flight attendants hawk their MasterCard about halfway through every flight. I’m usually always listening to music so it doesn’t bother me.

  35. I hate the entire relationship between Delta and AMEX. Since I primarily fly international, I could NOT understand why Delta took up with AMEX when they bought Northwest who had a wonderful relationship with VISA. AMEX can not be used at most of the destinations I travel to…even many hotels and to get many (or any) benefits from AMEX you have to pay so much for use of the card. In talking with a seat companion one day in 1st class who was with the sales staff of Delta, I complained about it and was told the reason for the association is because AMEX paid Delta megabucks so they could purchase Northwest. (Not being in the financial sector, I always wondered how you can go from bankruptcy one day to purchasing another airline the next day.)

  36. Well, I disagree with most of the comments. I was flying Frontier when they were hawking their 40,000 mile Barlcay Credit card offer which I thought about and then did accept the SECOND time the announcement came. I know Johnny mentioned how good a deal that is in a previous post. Credit card points are a great way of getting them — if you pay your bills in full every month. The announcements are no more annoying then flight attendants hawking duty-free goods.

  37. I would agree that if they wanted to give a second announcement about it, to include it with the announcements at the end of the flight. It’s a time when I expect to be interrupted,

  38. I use Hearos Brand Ultimate Softness Series foam earplugs to tune out when aboard. My wife is a police sergeant here in Los Angeles and started using this type earplug when she was shooting on the firing range.

  39. Overnight flight (not on Delta) from O’Hare to Dublin. I try to set my body clock to “local time” as soon as the doors close, so our 6pm departure Chicago time was midnight in Dublin. 3 Hours into the flight (9pm in Chicago, and 3am in Dublin), a piercingly loud sales pitch came on the PA, waking basically everyone on the flight from a sound slumber. Truly clueless behavior by airlines.

  40. Having worked for a major retailer with their own credit card, it became the first priority to sell that credit card to each and every customer. As an employee, I would receive up to a $10 “SPIFF” for each credit approval. The retailer would be rewarded $2 every time the customer used that card for any size purchase. Retail is failing right now so that credit card is the main source of income that keeps the doors open at most stores. The dollar has become more important that service and it’s no different on these airlines.

    The ironic part is that the majority of cards are for Americans only!! I have to sit and listen to the speech and be hounded to apply for a credit card to which I do not qualify. This is the reason I bring noise cancelling headphones and great tunes on my iPad. God help the employee who wakes me up to sell me a card!

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  1. […] There’s no advertising in your face and the flight attendants don’t wake you up to make a credit card pitch like Delta Air Lines. However, they do show a video of their new credit card, which is actually a good value for those […]

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