The airline industry touts their customer focus, despite most people’s experience to the contrary. Many people who work in the industry might like to help, but the process they work in often prevents it. As Deming noted about business in general 50+ years ago.
I was traveling Monday from San Jose to Cincinnati. I bought the ticket about two weeks ago, and was never assigned a seat, which is a red flag. Sunday when I went online to check in and see if I could get an assigned seat, still no luck. In fact I got a notice the flight was over-booked and they were looking for “possible” volunteers. This prompted me to call Delta to see if they would rather reroute me from San Francisco where there were many seats available, rather than have me fly to LA and then get me stuck. The agent I talked to was sympathetic but she said that she was unable to reroute me even though the flight was possibly over-booked because their policy did not allow it.
When I got to LA, they were indeed WAY over-booked and were at $800 vouchers to try to get people to take a later flight. Unfortunately, while there had been seats from San Francisco to Cincinnati, there were none left Monday from LA.
They got me to Cincinnati on that flight, but they paid at least $800 to someone else to let me. They could have had a happy customer, who was blogging a different story, had they simply allowed me to help them help me. They would have also saved at least $800.
Every process is perfectly constructed to produce the results it does.