3 Links I Love: Delta Ups Its Game, Ben Smith Ups Air France’s Game, Flair is In the Game

Air France, Links I Love

This week’s featured link:

Welcome cocktails, hot towel service, bistro-style dining: Delta to debut wholly reinvented international Main Cabin experienceDelta News Hub
Every so often, Delta likes to poke its head in and remind everyone just how far ahead it is. If you had said 10 years ago that an airline would be serving free welcome cocktails, a separate appetizer and main course, two hot towels, and a going-away chocolate in coach, you would have been laughed out of the room. With a long and sustained upturn, Delta seems emboldened to keep building its service levels in all classes. Now the question is… what happens during the next downturn? Will everything be cut just as in the past?

Image of the week: airBaltic painted one of its A220s to resemble the Estonian flag. Who knew Estonia and Eastern Air Lines had the same colors? This does look good, as does the Latvian flag version from last year. via airBaltic

Two for the road:

New Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith Begins Putting His Imprint on Air FranceSkift
A good, long look at what Ben Smith has been trying to do, and it gives some of the positives and negatives. I really like what he’s been pushing so far. Air France is broken, and he has been the first to show any sign of being able to make a dent in fixing it.

A Talk With the Executive Chairman of Flair AirlinesAeronautics
Ever wondered what was running through the mind of the folks at Flair up in Canada? Well, here you go.

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17 comments on “3 Links I Love: Delta Ups Its Game, Ben Smith Ups Air France’s Game, Flair is In the Game

  1. Seems some of the Virgin Atlantic spirit is seeping into Delta. And as a regular economy traveller, I look forward to it.

  2. Good morning, Cranky Flier. Regarding the upgrades on Delta, will they be in time for me to enjoy my October trip to Athens? The article and video stated “ in the fall”.

  3. I had the pleasure of flying Delta in January. I don’t know if they were not testing everything out with the new main cabin experience. But about the only thing they did not have was the signature drink at the beginning of the flight or maybe I just missed it. I appreciated the hot towel service and the end of flight chocolate.

  4. Regarding the Delta international economy catering, I am looking forward to seeing this. While Delta flight attendants are competitive with any airline’s in terms of their helpfulness, Delta’s current international economy meal service looks like a grab bag of pre-packaged, industrialized small portions that produces as much waste as food. Eating bread served out of a basket is much more appetizing than something that is wrapped in plastic. Air France may not do everything right but Delta could learn from them regarding catering and food presentation.

    As Delta seeks to be a much more global airline – they are already in the top 5 carriers worldwide just in international traffic – serving and presenting food in a more appealing global manner should pay off financially given that Delta’s economy hard product including seat is already far more comfortable than many of its peers – including those that have 10 abreast 777s and 9 abreast 787s.

    Regarding Air France, they are the classic airline that has enormous revenue generation potential but have squandered it on inefficiencies and labor discord. They can learn from Delta as well as KLM about being lean and delivering a consistent product.

  5. Re: Question about DL cutting when the economy dips, of course. If it ends us costing them money, then yes these enhancements are gone. It’s a business. If customers aren’t willing or able to pay for a service in which the business is going to make a reasonable profit, it will no longer be offered.

  6. If anyone should be able to do the multi-airline within an airplane concept it *should* be Air France. Paris is likely second only to London in destination demand. It is no wonder Norwegian has set up camp there. They already have large planes and though this is unlikely to save the A380s, 77Ws and 35Ks would give you the required 50-100 seats for the LCC section of the plane.

    Make it AF Basic. No mileage credit or Flying Blue benefits. Mirror the Norwegian offering in that section charging for food, drinks, seat assignment, bags, etc. And then attack Norwegian in the markets they’re setting up in. Norwegian’s load factors show that people are willing to go on the cheap experience and some of that market wouldn’t even exist if the prices weren’t low. I think the main headwind is getting the JV partners on board with the idea. Delta in particular doesn’t think big planes are the way to make money and their product offering is going more and more upmarket. Then again, if they feel AF can pull this off they don’t have to find a way to offer a Norwegian alternative with their smaller jets already filled with higher paying customers. They’ll just sell codeshare fares on AF Basic.

    But then again, this is Air France. So who knows if they’ll make it work.

  7. Hi CF, LOL!  I had almost exactly the same reaction when I saw the Estonian A220 paint job….it looks like an updated EAL color scheme!

  8. Does Delta have a special department to make sure it keeps up with the latest cliches? What the heck is a “signature drink” anyway? All I get is a wet pen when I try to make one. Next it’ll be “artisanal” orange juice, meaning the pulp is left in.

    1. Here, I googled it for you :)


      “A Signature drink is any unique or original drink that expresses the nature of the person or establishment creating it. (…) Signature drinks have a long and colorful history and were being invented well before the 21st century.”

      So not exactly the latest cliche. Cheers! ;)

  9. Don’t know if this is the right place to suggest this, but it might be a good idea to talk about Interjet’s troubles at some point considering they’re now up for sale.

  10. Delta Airlines plain sucks! Delta Airlines is the same as Greyhound Bus Lines with wings! I flew first class for my very first time in summer 2014 from KGSP (Greenville, s.c. to Atlanta and then to KORD chicago. It sucked in first class. Delta was so cheap to even its first class customers. In 2008 I flew Turkish Airlines in coach class and I was treated better than Delta Airlines first class! Even Amtrak Roomette Passenger Service was better than Delta Airlines first class! Sorry to say that the morons at Amtrak now have Deltas old CEO running Amtrak. It seems that even here he is trying to destroy routes and passenger service for all level of passengers. Anderson is a moron hands down! He knows nothing about running rail service much less an Airline! Amtrak should hire someone from VIA Rail Canada to run AMTRAK and kick Anerson out back to Delta Airlines to finish Delta service off. Southwest Airlines treats their passengers much better than DELTA ever did! Now AMTRAK will become Greyhound bus lines equivalent on America’s rail road system! That is so sad to see Amtrak destroyed through greed and shear stupidity from Anderson as Amtrak CEO!

      1. There was no real food given, only snacks of cookies and things like that that coach would normally get as a poor paying passenger. It seemed that Delta did not care about any of its passengers no matter what class flown in.

        1. I’m guessing you haven’t taken many recent first class domestic flights of less than ~900 miles. With the exception of a few hyper competitive markets (like Chicago to NYC) no US airline offers an actual meal in first class. The flight from GSP to ATL is about 150 miles and ATL to ORD is about 600. You got a wider seat, more leg room, maybe a predeparture drink and a cocktail or two in flight. That’s the standard. I’m not a Delta fanboy but perhaps you should have done research before buying your fancy first class flight to Chicago.

  11. I feel to a large degree that Delta’s position and ability to invest in these products is primarily a result of its extensive JV’s as well as the anti trust immunity those JV’s have been granted, as well as overall difficulty with slot access at various slot controller airports. I do wonder as the XLR starts rolling out and the economics of ULCC’s on a long-haul basis begins to bear fruit whether or not this will hold, or whether it will be a matter of time until many of these routes get even more intense competition on them.

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