November 14, 2006
More on Flight Delays
Posted by Fred Tung

Further to my earlier rant on flight delays and airlines' failure to disclose them in timely fashion, Delta has just started a new service that reports flight delays to your designated phone number or email address.  According to a press release, the new service

will notify customers when their flights are delayed and provide continuous, real-time updates when operational changes occur, such as rebooking options or gate changes.

I've just subscribed to the service, so I can't yet say  whether notifications will be timely.  But it's certainly a step in the right direction.  As I wrote previously, this seems in the airline's interest as well as the passengers': 

[I]s it that costly to disclose the departure delay in advance? Presumably, some passengers would find alternative flights, and Delta couldn’t impose cancellation penalties for flight commitments it couldn’t fulfill, right? Even assuming that’s right, it seems to me that it still might be profit maximizing for Delta to disclose early. First off, under current pricing practices, it would probably be difficult for most passengers to find a palatable fare on an alternative airline on such short notice, so there won’t be many cancellations—except for those passengers who simply decide not to fly that day.  Second, wouldn’t a policy of early disclosure offer enormous marketing advantages? If an airline always disclosed flight delays as early as possible, I would certainly favor that airline over its less helpful competitors. Even if it didn’t enable me to switch flights, I would appreciate the information for planning purposes.

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