By Steve Moran

Delta is the airline I used to love.

Delta leadership has been on a multiyear journey to transform the airline and customer experience into a premium product by providing better service. They have been very successful at accomplishing this goal.

This means lots of full airplanes and overcrowded airport lounges.

Their response to full airplanes and overcrowded lounges is pure capitalism (something I favor):

  • Raise prices.
  • Reduce mileage benefits.
  • Increase the mileage qualification requirements for their higher tiers — the ones that count for something.

The ability to do these things has been exacerbated by a slowdown in the delivery of Boeing airplanes, which means higher prices and fuller flights for all airlines.

But Should They?

A number of years ago, I had one final, ridiculously bad customer service experience with American Airlines and shifted all my flying to Delta. It was slightly less convenient, but when flying circumstances went sideways, that top-tier status that I gained with all the miles got me to the front of the line for rescheduling flights and waiving change fees. The miles were nice but not the most important thing.

With the current changes … I choose to stop being loyal to Delta. A customer should never be more loyal to the company than the company is to the customer. Their flight schedules out of my home airport are not so great, and the prices have gone way up. In addition, it is nearly impossible for me to hit top-tier status, and the lower status levels don’t make that much difference for the things that are important to me.

Today, my decision makes zero difference for Delta. Others will take those seats, and pay those prices, but there will come a time when the airline industry again falls on hard times. And every extra customer, every extra dollar, every extra bit of loyalty will be critical for survival.

When that time comes, I won’t care about Delta, and neither will thousands of others. Delta has abandoned the people who made them great, because they can, because it is rational … in the short term. It does not mean they should.


Southwest continues to win even when things go south, because they see their customers and employees as their most valuable resources. They for sure are also capitalists but smart capitalists. They realized people can become fiercely loyal, and they protect that loyalty. They forego things like charging for bags, because they know that loyalty is a two-way street.

Senior Living

In senior living there are lots of times when investors, owners, leaders, managers can do things because they have the power, but that does not mean they should. It is easy to say no to special requests from residents or family members, or for unusual accommodation for team members. It is within the rights of leaders to do so.

But just because you can does not mean that you should. When we do the right thing, we build tremendous loyalty that over time will come back in terms of higher occupancy, lower levels of criticism, and fewer legal claims.