Experts: Boycotting Delta Would Only Hurt the Local Economy

ST. GEORGE – A public outcry led to Delta policy changes after a YouTube video went viral that showed American soldiers returning from deployment talking about how they had to pay a $200 baggage fee for a fourth bag which mostly carried their military-issued gear.

While some citizens say they intend to boycott Delta, Mayor Dan McArthur warned that could hurt local business, as Delta is a SkyWest connection.

Marissa Snow, Manager of Corporate Communications for SkyWest, which is located in St. George, said SkyWest has “five daily flights aboard the modern regional jet to Salt Lake City as Delta Connection.”

“As air service is a key component of our economic engine, avoiding use of service would undoubtedly have an adverse impact on the local economy as a whole,” Snow said.

Delta quickly came through and reimbursed the soldiers, as well as make changes to their policy for the U.S. Armed Forces, after the incident was made public.

Managing Partner of Airline Weekly Seth Kaplan said Delta mostly likely will not experience a meaningful boycott.

“Airlines have overcome bad publicity resulting from far more dire situations – accidents, operational meltdowns affecting tens of thousands of people and so forth,” Kaplan said. “People choose airlines primarily based on schedules and fares, plus other factors like frequent flier program membership. Nothing that has happened this week will change any of that, other than perhaps in the very short-term among a very small number of people, especially considering that Delta quickly resolved the issue.”

Jeffrey Breen, President of Cambridge Aviation Research agreed, saying it’s hard to envision a widespread boycott.

“The public outrage is understandable as it involved two emotionally charged topics: support for our military and airline baggage fees,” Breen said. “Delta realizes and admits their mistake and are reaching out to each soldier to make things right.  The key to avoiding such incidents is through a top-to-bottom commitment to customer service and, more importantly, the employee empowerment required to attain it.”

But others are standing firm in their decision to boycott the airline.

“I will definitely boycott Delta as of now,” said Erika Walker. “It is unheard of to charge soldiers extra for their bags returning home – they are giving their lives to protect the country, they sacrifice their life and their families and friends to ensure that all of us back home are safe and sound. How would somebody even consider charging them for the extra bag. Even the postponed refund won’t solve the issue.  I don’t think the economy would suffer that much. Delta, as a company, will as the customers will be gone, but people will be just flying with other companies.”

Jim Dailakis said the extra baggage fiasco was the final straw for him.

“At the advice of my friend, I decided to become a Delta Sky Miles member in the hope of getting upgrades,” he said. “So far, it’s been nothing but misery. One flight after the next … in fact 95 percent of them have been delayed, canceled or have had mechanical or technical problems. In fact, I actually e-mailed them to let them know how disgusted and appalled I was by their behavior.”

Others say fees and convenience, not one incident, will determine their airline of choice.

“I have a flight to China with Delta booked,” said Peter Tiso. “I wouldn’t boycott them for this. It seems more like a single manager who made a call to charge a standard fee based on the current rules, rather than an attempt by Delta to knowingly fleece soldiers for additional money based on the number of bags they expect each to carry, especially since the practice was so instantly changed when challenged.”

In the end, it seems Delta’s choice to change their policy was a good move. But one still wonders, why wasn’t the U.S. military picking up the bill if the soldiers were carrying military-issued gear on return from a military deployment?

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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  • Kevin June 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Let us all cry for Delta and Skywest. A widespread boycott won’t happen, but as the airlines give us the screw on every flight our local leaders are crying about our local economy. Well mayor a lot of the excess fees that we spend on airline flights would make more of an impact on the local economy. When will the sheeple get out of the fog and get this town away from the good ole boys?

  • FrankD June 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I’m glad this all came out, and by the way the government does not pick up the tab. We all do, tax payers. I wonder how much of out dollars was spent since the war began on our government picking up $200.00 each for an extra 4th bag. An audit should be made and someone held accountable. And by the way I hope the soldiers do not get reprimanded by their superiors. They uncovered a scam that once again took American tax payers hard earned dollars. No wonder airlines were making billions on baggage, food, and other amenities.

  • Dan Nainan June 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I am a professional comedian who travels about 125,000 miles a year all over the world with Delta. Although what happened was clearly wrong, I think it was just one agent’s doing, not the airline.

    Things will always go wrong with any airline, especially one as large as Delta, but I found that they really truly do make amends – I have found their customer service to be fantastic. A lot of people complain about the airline but do nothing about it if something goes wrong – all you have to do is write their customer service and they will take care of you.

  • Al June 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

    They did not pay anything out of their own pocket it was my tax dollars that where spent. Stop complaining !

  • Roger June 13, 2011 at 2:16 am

    I can’t believe all of the BS over this. For the people who think that Delta did something wrong, you’re way off base. The people at Delta were simply following their written policy. Who among us would rather do their job as it is written and not risk getting fired for deviating from policy? Boycotting Delta is a really stupid idea. Of all the real injustices there are in the world to deal with, this one is quite petty.

    The bad part about this is, if anyone speaks out saying that those two soldiers were wrong in how they handled the situation, then they are branded as anti’military. Though, it’s okay for two uniformed soldiers to publicly bad mouth a company with no rebuttal. What those two soldiers did was wrong. It shows a lack of discipline. They have a system in place for making complaints. If I was their CO, I would be pissed.

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