It’s not often these days that an airline surprises you in a good way. But that’s exactly what happened to me last night when I stepped off the airplane in Minneapolis for a brief layover between Toronto and Seattle. Waiting for me on the jetway with a smile on his face and a digital sign displaying my name in his hands was Spencer, Delta’s TechOps MSP Operational Manager. As we waited for jetway to meet aircraft, the flight attendant standing next to me said, “Isn’t that your name on the sign? Is it your birthday?” No, it wasn’t my birthday, but I did have an idea as to what was going on. Those of us in Delta’s super-frequent-flier circles (of whom there are many in my home town of Atlanta) have heard the stories of the “Surprise & Delight” operation happening behind the scenes at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
It’s a program in cooperation with Porsche in Atlanta where a Delta operations team identifies top-tier fliers each day with tight connections or who are marking a milestone (like hitting Million-Miler or achieving the Diamond Medallion level – I’m both) and surprise them on the jetway with a posh ride on the tarmac to their next gate or to their car in the parking lot. I’ve seen the Facebook photos from friends and co-workers who have already experienced the “Jetway Surprise” and I freely admit, I was always a little jealous. But last night it was my turn! Spencer explained that MSP has just rolled out the program (the Delta SUV soon to be replaced with a Porsche) and his enthusiasm about his role in delighting some of Delta’s best customers on a daily basis was contagious.
Since I had some time before my flight, Spencer asked me if I’d like to go to the gate or to the Sky Club (I chose the Sky Club) and then asked if I’d like the fastest route or the scenic route – of course, I chose the scenic route. I mean how often do you get to be driven around on the tarmac like a celebrity? We circled behind jets and through tunnels, chatting along the way, until finally he parked and escorted me right up to the Sky Club. I walked into the club feeling a bit like a rock star.
In the last few years, I’ve spent more time on Delta airplanes than almost anywhere else. My Delta miles have shown me the world as I turned more than 2 million miles into 8 trips around the world. Last night, Delta demonstrated both their commitment to me as a valued customer and a creative desire to go the extra mile to make the travel experience something special. It’s that kind of personal service and especially employees like Spencer who keep me coming back to Delta again and again. No airline is perfect, those of us who spend our lives on the road know that only too well. But sometimes all you really need after a long day of travel is to feel appreciated by the companies that you’re loyal to. Starwood Hotels have always been good at this and I’m thrilled to see Delta going that extra mile in their own unique way.
If the goal of the program is to Surprise & Delight…mission accomplished, Delta. Here’s to our next million miles together…