Delta ‘Aligns’ Fees For, You Know, Consistency

Curious that Delta Air Lines should choose one of the biggest news days of the past century to slide out some changes to its fee structure. Doesn’t Delta realize that people might be too distracted by the election to pay attention?

The changes are laid out in a press release most marvelously entitled “Delta Aligns Policies and Fees to Offer Consistency for Customers Traveling on Delta- and Northwest-Operated Flights.” And this is reasonably accurate, for I do now feel consistently aligned.

Delta’s not really doing anything unusually awful. 

First, it’s falling in line on fees for the first checked bag. So this fee, which the airlines blamed on high fuel prices, is now institutionalized on all the Big Six (soon to be Big Five) legacy carriers. Regardless of fuel price, which have fallen to less than half their peak.

On the Dallas Monring New’s Airline Biz Blog, Terry Maxon points out this quote from Steve Gorman, Delta’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, described Delta as “the only major airline not charging for a first checked bag.” The blog entry notes that this suggests Southwest Airlines, which allows two checked bags at no additional charge, is not a major airline.

At least as pernicious, in my view, is that Delta is now adopting Northwest’s odious practice of charging for “choice” economy seats, which tends to mean any seat you don’t have to step on someone to get out of: aisle, bulkhead, exit row. We’ll find out exactly how that will be applied, I guess.

On the upside, Delta did reduce its fee for a second checked bag and eliminate its fuel surcharges on frequent-flier award tickets.



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