A Sorry Airline: An Opportunity for Collaboration

Old Airliner

An article in the Thursday, July 10, edition of The Wall Street Journal, “Who Is the Sorriest Airline?”, by Scott McCartney, provides beautiful fare for thinking once the amusement factor begins to wear off. An excerpt from a Delta Air Lines letter to one Margery Rothenberg, a passenger who complained about hitting her head while traveling on the airline, in part reads: “Although, our flight attendant offered you ice there was a bump at the place of injury.”

Don’t ask me what that sentence means and what the deal is with “Although” and the comma placement. But this letter is said to be part of Delta’s customer service campaign as “Carriers Deploy Software and English Majors to Craft Letters That Let Angry Fliers Know They’re Contrite,” according to the article’s subhead.

My mind of course is heading toward education and how to apply what I have just read. It seems to me American education, specifically each institution of higher learning, is ready for a complaint department, similar to that of Southwest Airlines, which employs a sorting of complaints into different categories based on perceived personality types. And there definitely needs to be a sorting of complaints according to “the value of the customer.” I learned from reading the article that depending on how big a spender you are, you will get different amounts of free air miles in gestures of good will from the airlines.

Scott McCartney’s article mentions passenger personality categories of “Feelers, Drivers, Entertainers and Thinkers.” Depending on your personality, you will receive a customized response from the airlines.

While I know that most of us absolutely abhor the term “customer” and that some are looking for the emergency exit when I compare airlines to colleges or universities, or vice versa, I am hoping to generate some collaboration on this site and hear from fellow bloggers and readers either imagined response letters to imaginary customers, along with the imagined complaint if you wish. The customers or passengers can be students or internal constituencies, such as administrators, of the academy.

I hope you will provide us with some in-flight, on board, or should I say “above-board,” entertainment.


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