#InsideDelta – Two Questions I Wish I’d Asked Delta CEO Richard Anderson (Part 3)
In my final piece on the #InsideDelta event I attended last week, I’m going to share some details of our chat with Delta’s CEO Richard Anderson. Our meeting with Richard was the last thing prior to dinner. We were slightly behind schedule, but he spent quite a bit of time with us. Frankly, he seemed to enjoy talking with us. He greeted each of us individually, then sat down to chat. We went through our day’s events, and I immediately caught on to something – he knew the names of the individuals we’d met with from the tower manager to the engine shop supervisor. What I write below is taken from my notes of the conversation. I may paraphrase a bit based on my handwriting, but these are the highlights as I recall them.
- Delta’s desire in Seattle is to build a hub.
- Seattle has a bigger local traffic base than Minneapolis, and Minneapolis has great local traffic.
On SkyMiles 2015
- Miles are no longer an effective measure.
- Bank cards pioneered what they are doing.
- SkyMiles is incredibly valuable to Delta and American Express.
- Delta’s culture is remarkable. “I hope you can feel it when you walk around here.”
- Really about making this a place where people want to be.
- He was personally involved in plans for the Delta Flight Museum.
On Operations in Atlanta
- 80 percent improvement in baggage numbers since 2007.
- Replaced bag system.
On Time Management
- I’m pretty efficient. There are only 12 emails in my inbox right now.
- Stay on top of homework.
- Never touch paper twice. (MJ notes – I may have heard angels sing after that remark. Wish more managers lived that way)
- Sometimes you have to say no to calendar events.
Advice for Our Youngest Group Member Looking for an Airline Career
- Complete your studies with a focus on finance.
- Take every internship opportunity you can get.
He was already late for an appointment, and probably stayed longer than intended, but I’m not exaggerating when I say he seemed to enjoy talking with us. That said, if I had the time back, I would have found a way to ask two more questions.
- What long-term structural business problem was Delta attempting to solve with a switch to a revenue-based SkyMiles program?
- If you had to pick the single most important aspect from legacy NWA and legacy DAL to preserve in a merged airline, what would they be?
Who knows? Maybe I’ll get an answer after the fact. What question would you have asked?
Parting Thoughts on #InsideDelta
I think Delta was pretty brave to host a bunch of aviation-enthusiasts with smart phones and Twitter accounts. On the other hand, even some of their staunchest critics would agree that Delta is running the best big U.S. airline from an operational and product perspective. This event showcased what it takes to deliver that kind of product to its customers. You know what? It takes a heck of a lot of work, and a lot of moving parts have to work together to make it happen. My thanks to Delta for letting me tag along.
-MJ, June 28, 2014