Went to Detroit this week. It’s a lot nicer there (at least in the burbs where I was) than I thought it would be.
I flew Delta because it was the only nonstop flight option from Seattle. I bought a first class ticket, just like the last time I flew Delta.
A lot of you know my feelings on Delta, if not you can read them right here.
It’s my absolute last choice when flying. I can’t think of another business where everyone is so damned surly all the time, practically snarling at you from the first interaction at checkin all the way until you land.
I was joking with someone earlier this week about just how bad it was, saying my interactions with flight attendants basically came down to “hey asshole, you want any food?” An exaggeration, obviously. But it really does feel that way on Delta most of the time.
Anyway, today when I got to the airport the first class check-in area was pretty deserted and there were three Delta people behind computers to check people in. Doing absolutely nothing.
I stood at the front of the line area, the only person around. None of the three people were helping anyone. None made eye contact with me or asked me to walk up to them.
I asked one of them in general if they were open and if I could approach. Something like “Hi, can I check in with you?” She was about 15 feet away from me
She said “I need a couple of minutes.”
I stood there. No problem. Lots of time. A little while later she said “I can help you once you have your boarding pass and ID.”
This was from 15 feet away, and she didn’t invite me to the counter and it was sort of clear that I wasn’t to approach the counter until I had those items.
It was a little absurd, having a loud conversation from 15 feet away. And I was confused because all I wanted from her was my boarding pass.
I said “I thought I was supposed to get my boarding pass from you.”
She said “what?”
I said “I thought you were supposed to give me my boarding pass. If I already have a boarding pass what is it you do for me?”
She said “what?”
I said “it’s a little awkward talking from this far away. Can I come over to you?” Still in a good mood, finding this sort of fun and funny.
She said “Sir, I can help you once you have your boarding pass. Please stop yelling.”
Flashback to that hilarious scene from Anger Management.
So at this point I’m at the front of the check-in line at Delta. The woman who’s job it is to check me in has told me I cannot approach her area until I have my boarding pass. And we are having this absurd catch-22 conversation that neither of us can really hear because I can’t go close enough.
Eventually I went to the computer area and got my boarding pass. Didn’t go back to her.
This all goes back to my old post where I talk about how Delta employees seem to hate their jobs so much that it’s almost impossible for them to be nice to customers.
This whole situation was mostly just funny and sort or surreal and wasn’t that big of a deal.
But it does remind me of one thing about business. There are so many self destructive businesses out there that sometimes you only have to actually be normal to have a competitive edge.
When I fly Virgin they’re usually pretty competent. But really it’s the vast difference between Virgin and Delta/United/American. The old airlines are so bad, and Virgin is so normal, that it seems like I’m being treated like a king.
When really all that’s happening is I’m allowed to walk up to them and get my boarding pass.