Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I want to believe we'll remember how brands treated us during this time of crisis.
I wonder, though, how much that'll be the case.
Will customers revert to their former feelings about brands? Or when a brand does something truly egregious now, will they remember?
Recently, I relayed how United Airlines wrote to customers to thank them for bailout money, while it continued to refuse them legal refunds.
It seemed a little rich, to be sure.
Now Delta, a brand synonymous with treating customers well, seems to have been caught in something of a forked-tongued bind.
The airline has consistently told passengers flying is safe. A sample from Delta's own website:
We're doing everything we can to deliver a safe, healthy, clean and flexible travel experience. Caring for our customers and employees is our top priority.
For those who currently need to travel, that's surely appreciated.
Yet, as Rene's Points discovered, the airline is telling the Department of Transportation something that seems a little different. Very different. Well, some might describe it as a little on the opposite side.
Having received $5 billion of bailout money, the airline is now asking the DoT to allow it to stop flying from nine smaller airports, which contradicts its bailout terms.
The airline isn't supposed to desert airports it usually serves.
Some might find Delta's reasoning for this request a trifle galling. The airline admitted business is bad at these airports. It added, however:
Nothing is more important to Delta than the safety of its employees and customers. During this pandemic, airport employees and crews must place themselves at risk to staff each flight and Delta seeks to reduce this risk as much as possible.
Naturally, I asked Delta to comment on this apparent contradiction. An airline spokeswoman explained:
These proposed changes will help reduce the number of our frontline employees at risk of exposure, while ensuring convenient access to Delta's network for those who must travel. If the request is granted, Delta will work to re-accommodate customers.
Re-accommodate. Precisely the word United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz initially used to describe what happened to Dr. David Dao, so cruelly dragged off a flight with a bloodied face.
Moreover, the airline's statement suggests Delta wants to stop flying to these airports precisely in order to reduce human risk -- and make customers travel a little further to catch their flight. Which isn't, in fact, quite the definition of convenient access.
Or might it really be that these smaller airports are the ones enduring the lightest traffic, so the airline would, pretty please, like to save a little money, despite getting its 5 billion?
Perhaps Delta feels unworried about using any method now to reduce its financial exposure. Customers won't remember these little things, even if they hear about them at all.
It's worth a business being careful, though, to behave well when its customers are suffering.
So many businesses are doing truly magnanimous things in order to keep their communities connected.
Wouldn't Delta actually look good by ensuring it's fulfilling its commitment to fly from these smaller places?
Or are these little places only useful in good times?