In silencing Song, Delta turns tin ear to what consumers want

By Published on .

As my Song flight taxied on the runway after its landing, the flight attendant had one last message for us.

"All of us at Song were shocked and saddened when we heard that Delta was going to kill Song." he said. "As part of the original Song founders we worked very hard and enthusiastically on behalf of our airline and it was very, very special.

"We thought Song was going to last a long time," he said, but Delta had other ideas. "It's sad that Song will go away. We very much enjoyed flying on Song with all of you."

Then he said that if we as passengers wanted to register our feelings to Delta we should call 404-715-4001.

When I was leaving the plane I asked the guy to repeat the phone number, and he was worried that I was going to register a complaint with management about his remarks. I told him I was a reporter and he said most of the press had been going with the party line that Delta was taking the best of Song's innovations to incorporate with the best of Delta.

"Only there is no best of Delta," he said.

Why don't they try to sell Song? I asked. The pilot said Delta needs the planes for the rest of the fleet.

But the Catch 22 is the more different type of planes they fly, the more expensive it is to maintain them.

Southwest and Jet Blue are profitable because they fly one type of plane (as does Song), and also because they have one class of service. Delta, though, will continue to have two classes because it needs to give upgrades to use up frequent flyer miles.

With that kind of baggage, how can the bankrupt airline ever become profitable? Answer: It can't.

The poor bastard Song is like Saturn is to General Motors. They didn't want it to succeed even though both Song and Saturn captured the imagination of the public.

Or maybe it's the other way around: Because the Song and Saturn brands proved so popular they didn't want them to succeed; they were threats to the main body. How could management control their companies if they started giving people what they actually wanted rather than what they wanted to give them?

Delta will keep the TVs on the back of every chair only on flights of 1,750 miles or more, another flight attendant told me. Most Song flight attendants will be let go, so there won't be many who received training in making nice with the passengers. And you won't be able to buy food on board Delta flights as you can on Song.

I said to one attendant that Delta should discontinue the mother ship and keep Song. "Thank you," she said. "That's the way every one of us feels here," she said.

And why not? Why stick with an outmoded economic model when you've already got an airline with a simple and low price airfare structure that both flight attendants and customers enjoy flying?

I guess the sad truth is that Delta's management would rather stick with a multibillion dollar operation, even if it is losing hundreds of millions, than put all their marbles on a low-cost upstart modeled after the only two profitable U.S. carriers.

Isn't it crazy that today's corporations would rather be big and unprofitable than smaller and profitable? The head of Delta once told employees he'd be happy if they put the word "Swan" in front of the Song name, and now he's getting his wish.

If you've flown Song and liked the experience, call the Delta number and let them know how you feel. I myself am thinking of selling T-shirts with "Save Song" emblazoned on the front.

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