Delta Merging with Northwest

In airline news, other than the massive dropping of numerous flights and raising prices ridonkulously, Delta is merging with Northwest. I have to admit that my first (admittedly ungenerous) reaction was, "when you add crap to poop, you still don't get ice cream."

Delta has been the bane of my existence as an airline traveler. I've lived in Long Island, NY, as well as Atlanta, Lexington (KY), and currently Chattanooga, among other places. My family remains in NY, so I fly to see them quite often, and then there's the various professional conference-type things. Not once have I flown Delta that they haven't lost my luggage. Not a single time. (I credit them for my penchant to fly with copious amounts of underwear in my carry-on.)

Not only have they lost my luggage, but the service desk is always quite snotty about it (which horrifies me as someone committed to good customer experience). I had the temerity to ask, given that they had barcode-stickered my luggage, if they could at least let me know the last place my luggage had been zapped. (Sort of a proof-of-life thing, since I saw that documentary on how some airline got caught dumping lost luggage in dumpsters.) I was informed, in a haughty voice, that they didn't actually *use* the barcodes on my luggage - it was there simply so I could match the number stuck on my ticket to the number on my bag.

This offends me. not the snottiness - that's fine. I completely understand having a shitty job where you have to deal with the repercussions of someone else's failures. I used to work retail, I get it. I am, however, offended by the use of BARCODES when you are not actually utilizing the barcode for its intended purpose. Why don't you just use regular old numbers? Is it because using a barcode makes it look like you are actually keeping track of which bag goes onto which plane? Everyone knows that as long as something *looks* official, people will accept it.

So, yeah. That long-ass sticky thing on your luggage? Not really used for anything, including tracking. Unless it gets lost. And then if you haven't retained your ticket jacket, where they stuck the corresponding barcode number, you are out of luck. So, okay, the barcode does do something - it's there as your way to give Delta information in the case that their incompetence results in the loss of your bag. That way when they find it, they can type in the number and figure out it should be with you instead of in Philly. Where you neither came from, arrived, or transferred at.

I don't know if Delta's merging with Northwest is a good or bad thing, though my libraryfolk have little good to say about Northwest, either. I doubt it, since the airlines seem a bastion of inefficiency and error.
I would like to point Delta to A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette, and today's post on being obsessive-compulsive. Not that Delta is at all OCD - they don't seem to mind being heartily disorganized and losing items. But they really should listen to the part that says "excessive incompetence isn't good for anyone." Really, Delta. I mean it.


Allison said…
I believe it was Northwest that stranded me in flippin' Detroit. So I don't see this as an improvement.
J Alan said…
That's why I only fly Southwest. Will drive from Louisville to Lex to avoid other airlines
T Scott said…
For what it's worth, I've flown Delta almost exclusively for over a dozen years, domestic and overseas, and take 10 to 12 flights a year. Generally my experiences have been very good. My luggage has failed to catch up with me three times, and each time it's been delivered to my doorstep by the next day. I usually have to take a connecting flight to wherever I'm going, and I have only missed my connection twice -- Delta usually seems to figure out how to hold the connecting flight so people coming in late can still make the flight. Most of my flights leave on time and it is more common for me to arrive a little bit early than it is to arrive substantially late.

Not necessarily trying to defend Delta, just that my experiences have been different.
Anonymous said…
I discovered that American works the same way when they lost my luggage a couple of years ago. I told the useless woman at the luggage claims desk that other airlines (like United) can find out where my luggage is with the barcode. Her response "oh, well, we don't use it for anything." Well, now I don't use you for anything either.

I also refuse to fly Northwest since they made me gate-check my empty laptop bag. Sign at gate said "2 carryons". But, when you got to the end of the jetway and tried to get on the plane, the flight attendant said "only 1 carryon, which bag do you want to check?" Hmm...check my purse or check my laptop? Erm...neither! Her solution - take the laptop out of it's bag, cram it in my purse (sticking out the top cause it's too big, duh.) and check the empty laptop bag. She pulled the same bait-and-switch with other passengers, too. Naturally, we left late.
warmaiden said…
@ T Scott - well, it's good you've never been hassled, I guess. Maybe it's just the Islip and Atlanta airports where Delta is awful...

@Christa - The purse/laptop thing is the most RIDICULOUS thing I've ever heard, unless you're carrying a 40lb laptop bag around with you. I imagine everyone was staring daggers at her...

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