Delta Air Lines just made an announcement that may make customers' eyes roll

Holiday travel is always fraught -- more so, perhaps, this year than ever. Is it all going to be fine?
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
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Every air traveler deserves hope.

Especially after the recent years we've all lived through. The recent summer, especially.

Thousands of flights canceled, thousands of business trips wrecked, and thousands of passengers maddened by inferior technology, causing four-hour waits to reach customer service.

You'd be forgiven, then, for thinking that flying over these holidays won't be so easy. 

After all, airlines say they've never seen such strong demand. And when there's strong demand, there's a strong likelihood of packed planes, full schedules, and delays, always caused by the weather or, um, operational issues.

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Airlines, you might think, would be cautious in their promises for the holidays.

But then Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, appeared on NBC's Today Show. His countenance was entirely jolly.

"We've been at peak travel for basically the entire year," he mused with a smile.

He was asked, though, about those summer memories of abject frustration and despair.

"Have you resolved all of those issues?" NBC's Hoda Kotb wondered. "Do you have enough pilots, enough planes, enough customer service, a plan if the weather's bad? Are you guys ready?"

You might imagine Bastian could have hedged a bet or two. You might conceive he could have spoken in a realistic tone, of the underpromise or overdeliver kind.

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You might also imagine shredded sofa is an excellent evening meal.

For Bastian answered: "Yes, yes, yes and yes."

"Oh no," I hear you sniff.

But Bastian insisted the airline has been running a high quality of reliability and service excellence since the second week of July. He explained Delta has hired 25,000 people since the beginning of 2021.

One can only hope they've slipped into their new jobs with ready-made expertise strapped to their psyches. 

Alright, so now you're reassured. You're optimistic.

Also: Here are the best times to travel for the holidays, according to Google data

Perhaps, then, you haven't heard. You see, Delta's pilots have recently voted to strike. In concert with pilots at other big airlines, they've been trying to get a new contract for quite a while. They've been picketing. They've been complaining. They've been threatening.

Posed with this, Bastian offered: "There's no possibility they could go on strike. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other time."

The airline is currently in mediation with the pilots. Bastian said the strike threat is a mere tactic. Oh, and: "It would be against the law of the country if they did."

But if there's something we've learned over the last few years it's laws-schmaws. And if there's something many have learned in Europe, it's that a strike may not be a strike, but a work-to-rule can really mess things up.

Oddly, the pilots' union had an observation to make.

"Let me be perfectly clear," said the union's chairman, Captain Jason Ambrosi. "These implications are false. It is completely within our right to strike. A strike is not illegal, nor is a threat to strike simply a tactic."

Is this merely men waving their swords at a safe distance? Probably. But it's still marginally conceivable that Delta's pilots could go on strike for Christmas.

Just as it's conceivable that, should a cancellation befall you over the holiday period, you may not get the perfect customer service Bastian promises.

Also: American Airlines thinks it knows what customers want (Delta and United don't agree)

That's the thing about promises. They're not always kept so often, are they?

And wait, is this Delta I see still advertising on YouTube for customer experience specialists? I do believe it is.

But I thought the airline was completely ready.

Perhaps you can never be too ready when you're an airline. Perhaps, you should also never promise too much.

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