A Few Key Differences Between Southwest And Delta

NOTE: I have had several great experiences on Delta lately that caused me to write an article called “Delta Airlines And The Power Of Great Customer Service” that is a follow-on to this article. Don’t read one without the other!” – Ken

a-few-key-differences-between-southwest-and-deltaBy Ken Krogue – I am sitting on a Southwest flight from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. There I have a brief layover, and fly on to San Jose. I’m meeting with a very large potential client. Nothing like being a cloud computing entrepreneur of a SaaS company in hyper-growth mode.

Today is Thursday.

I flew to Las Vegas on Monday night on Delta and flew back Tuesday morning before lunch, after meeting with another large potential client at the Venetian hotel.

I’m writing this article because I’ve noticed some dramatically different things between the two airlines. I keep noticing them. I’m in the business of noticing sales and customer support methodologies. Maybe it’s time to write down my observations to see what all of you, my friends and readers, think. To some they may seem very small.

Maybe they are.

Delta gave me a seat assignment. Southwest didn’t. Both had me board in ‘zones’. I’m assuming they have something to do with how early you confirm your seat and do your online checkin. Zone 3 on Delta, B5 on Southwest.

I notice that Southwest has these stainless steel posts with numbers on them. They take time before the plane arrives to organize us so it doesn’t delay the flight. Delta takes the time to organize us on the plane as we try and find a place for our carry-on.

Southwest didn’t charge me extra for luggage.

On Monday, my colleague, Dave Orrico, upgraded to first class on Delta and got to go ahead of me in line. I decided to stay to where I was and experience the ‘Delta’ experience. I knew I would be flying Southwest in two days. Fun to compare. Dave made a joke about Southwest and the ‘cattle car’ method of moving people on to the plane. Getting on the plane with Delta took over twice as long as Southwest. Dave had invited me up to first class but I laughed and said, “Naw, I’ve got to maintain my image.”

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As I boarded, I noticed Dave seated in First Class… wider seats, already a small bottle of water in hand.

Delta waited nearly an hour somewhere on the runway before we took off. Southwest was slightly ahead of schedule.

Southwest joked about it being Valentines Day. A jovial flight attendant on Southwest dedicated the flight to his in-laws and mentioned how grateful he was for them. A pilot came on and asked if there was anyone on the flight with an extra Valentines card for them in the cockpit. The flight attendant was young, smiling. The pilot was funny, but not over the top.

The only joke I remember from my trip to Vegas was on a t-shirt in the airport…

“What happens in Las Vegas, stays on Facebook FB +% and Youtube forever.”

The lady on Delta got irritated at me because I had headphones on as we were taking off and the pilot had clearly said to power off all electronic items. Then she came back a little later and reminded me again because she noticed that the red light on my noise reducing headphones was still on, even though I had taken them off my ears and they were hanging loosely around my neck and my ipod was completely off as requested.

She didn’t seem happy to be there…

At all.

I wondered if the noise reducing power of a single triple a battery lighting a small red LED could really knock out the flight instruments of a Delta airliner. That’s only slightly more insulting to my intelligence than the voice that had come on in the airport over an hour before that had said:

“In the interest of aircraft security… please don’t leave your bags unattended. Please don’t transport any items by people you don’t know…”

All of these messages after we have passed security already? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of plane terrorists who smuggle items past security then plant them on somebody else’s unsuspecting laptop bag with nobody nearby…

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Really?

The young lady next to me from Mexico noticed the actions of the Delta flight attendant  about my headset and shrugged her shoulders apologetically and shook her head in a gesture of empathy. She barely spoke english but knew how poorly I had been treated. I don’t think the flight attendant even noticed she had done it. Hopefully she was just having a bad day.

Halfway through the flight another Delta attendant came through pushing a cart and inquired about my beverage of choice. I asked for water. She handed me my water and a blue metallic bag of pretzels. I asked, “Don’t you have those awesome Delta cookies?” She said, “Sorry, they didn’t give us any on this flight.”

Dang, one big reason I fly Delta.

I was expecting those great cookies, got pretzels… disappointed.

Right after the flight took off, my Southwest flight attendant came by quickly, took my order. I asked for water. I was expecting peanuts. She came back in short order with a full tray of different beverages. She gave me my water and a yellow metallic bag of ‘lightly salted peanuts’ and a red bag of pretzels.

Cool… a bonus.

I was expecting peanuts… got basically the same pretzels I had on Delta… pleasantly surprised.

Ten minutes later she was back with a light blue metallic bag of ‘honey roasted peanuts’ and a 2nd bag of pretzels. I hadn’t even opened my first bags yet… still writing this article. She hadn’t said a word about my headphones.

She has been by twice already to gather up any trash. When I handed it to her she said, “Thank you” and smiled again.

Delta came by once, almost right at the end of the flight. It had been a pain juggling the trash.

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The pilot on Southwest just came over the intercom and said, “Folks, on the right side of the airline… a Kodak moment as we fly over Las Vegas.” Then a few moments later, “Doggone it, a few bumps here flying over Vegas, if you would return to your seats, thank you.”

Yup, Southwest is flying pretty high over Vegas.

I still have an extra bag of pretzels, I’ll save ‘em for later.

I wonder as I save this article if I will hear from either one of these airlines by social media. Just to make it easy I decide to include my Twitter handle… @KenKrogue.

I just grabbed a Vanilla Bean with Soymilk from Starbucks. After all, I’m from Utah. I’m sitting in the terminal. I just plugged in my iPhone tether to get to the internet.

In the line I notice one of the two Southwest flight attendants. I say, “I sure enjoyed the flight. Thank you.” She beams with a broad smile, “Oh, you are welcome. They give us a lot of freedom and we like to make it fun.”

I found a spare seat by the gate that is close to a wall receptacle. Isn’t it funny, that is the main priority in terminal seating nowadays?

There is that voice again,

“Do not leave luggage unattended in the terminal…”

I wince. I feel stupid again.

I’m uploading my article. Hope I didn’t miss any spelling problems.

Stay tuned, in a few days I’ll let you know what happens… -Ken

Author: Ken Krogue

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