Delta CEO: Orientation is the Schwerpunkt

He didn’t actually say that (Boyd did, on Organic Design, 16), but Delta CEO Richard Anderson expressed the sentiment well in a recent interview with the Associated Press. For example:

AP: As you fly around, where do you sit?
ANDERSON: I was in row 28 coming up here. I wear my badge. And I fly in coach.

I really like this, especially because it’s exactly what I recommended that Delta execs should do back when I wrote Certain to Win:

If you’re a high roller with some airline, call your 1-800 telephone number to make a reservation. Try your web site. Stand in line to check in. Check a suitcase. Fly coach. Try to change a reservation. What do you think? Excited by your own stuff? Any sign of magical pizzazz there? Any reason anybody with a choice would do it again? And while you’re back there in coach, talk to people. (p. 157)

I don’t know if he does all of these things, and I also have no idea whether other high Delta execs follow suit (a little pun, sorry). But it’s a very good sign that Delta is getting a lot right.

I’ve also berated loyalty checks — where you only use your company’s products — remember how Detroit auto factories (when there were auto factories in Detroit) used to put signs in their parking lots telling people with imported cars to go park somewhere else?

So I was delighted to read this:

ANDERSON: I’ve done long-haul to Asia. You know what I like to try to do? I like to try to fly on the competition when I go long-haul. I take my little black book and just make notes and observe what’s going on and how the airports are operating, and how your competitors are operating.

Hell yes!  But again, my question would be whether such behavior is part of the Delta culture now; do all Delta personnel fly the competition on a regular basis, and do they report on what they found? Is there an institutional process to use these reports? Put another way, does this information become part of Delta’s common implicit orientation?

Anyway, kudos to Delta. As a Million Miler living in the South, I’ve flown them, and will be flying them, a lot.

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