Delta has issued a statement of apology to the family booted off a flight from Maui to Los Angeles.
Trying to avert a potential media tempest, Delta has taken (almost) full responsibility, shifting blame away from the family:
We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation. Delta’s goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize.
Delta doesn’t quite go as far as saying it was wrong, but its gesture of refunding travel plus additional compensation signals a stark change in tone from when the incident occurred. Onboard DL2222, the Delta agent refused to re-accomodate or provide any other assistance to the removed family. This despite the fact that the family made a reasonable mistake in its flawed assumption about its extra purchased seat.
I think Rene gets it exactly right in asserting–
The bottom line on this, and every situation that will come up for years to come, is the airlines are now in fear of the endless news cycle of them treating customers badly again and again and again. They are in fear, not of us, but of the time when there are perhaps new laws that will cost their bottom line and impact the share price.
Just as many inside United Airlines still believe it was right to drag Dr. Dao off the plane, I suspect Delta has little remorse for what occurred. But it has optics to worry about and if it has learned anything from United’s mishaps, it is that small problems can quickly become huge nightmares.
Thus, Delta’s statement was compulsory.
I am sure I am not the only once who notices a lot more of these stories lately. The only thing that has changed is that they are now deemed more newsworthy than before. These sorts of events routinely occur and will continue to occur. Sadly for airlines, I believe these occurrences will only proliferate. With knowledge that airlines can now be “blackmailed” through bad press and the fear of regulation, look for “copycats”.