Delta Airlines & Admitting Mistakes

Kelly O'Keefe discusses an important lesson for brands to admit their mistakes with an example of an airline that met some unintended brand turbulence.

Beer & Brands
Cold Take #7
May 21, 2024

Cold Take Overview

Frequent Flyer Loyalty

Delta Airlines had built a strong brand over the years by focusing on providing an excellent experience for fliers. This commitment to quality has earned them a loyal following of frequent flyers who are willing to pay a premium for their airport lounges, an exalted place where they can get free food and drinks, relax in lounge-y chairs, refocus at desks or conference rooms, and even make use of well-maintained restrooms.

Delta's Unintended Turbulence

However, even the most beloved brands can stumble. Delta recently announced changes that upset some of its most loyal customers. They planned to limit access to their Delta Sky Clubs and make it harder to accumulate rewards points. These changes were met with immediate outrage, especially from frequent flyers who had come to rely on these perks and feel alienated by the brand.

Delta's CEO Takes the Helm

In response to the situation, Ed Bastian (Delta's CEO) openly admitted the mistake, acknowledged that the changes were poorly thought out, and pledged to revise the program to better serve their loyal customers.

The Takeaway

Great Brands Admit Mistakes

Kelly commends Delta for not being afraid to admitting, "We made a mistake" and became proactive in addressing customer concerns to maintain loyalty and trust.

Meet the Federation

Kelly O'Keefe

Kelly is the Founding Partner and CEO of Brand Federation.

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Beer & Brands is Brand Federation's monthly podcast where marketing industry leaders, Kelly O'Keefe and Matt Williams, discuss brands, brand strategy, and tactics. Over beers.

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