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This Is the ‘World’s Most Trusted Airline’? We’re Not So Sure

SmarterTravel

Let the snickering begin.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Delta has filed a trademark application for the right to promote itself as “The World’s Most Trusted Airline.”

That descriptor is sure to elicit guffaws from the many Delta-bashers who are still smarting from last year’s SkyMiles award-price increases, and from Delta’s upcoming conversion of SkyMiles to a revenue-based program.

Delta is currently basking in the glow of smitten industry watchers impressed with the company’s strong financial and operational performance. But the “most trusted” designation is clearly meant to apply to Delta’s customers, not just to a small group of financial analysts.

Is “trustworthy” an adjective that most or even many travelers would be inclined to apply to Delta? I doubt it.

A certain amount of hyperbole is expected in airline marketing. But if the claim goes too far, it risks exposing the company to ridicule.

United’s re-adoption of the “Fly the Friendly Skies” slogan is a case in point. The problems that bedeviled United in the aftermath of its merger with Continental were rampant and well publicized. United’s skies were anything but friendly, and the tagline was bandied about by flyers sarcastically, to call attention to United’s cluelessness.

American, on the other hand, was savvy enough to steer clear of its “Something Special in the Air” slogan at a time when it was clearly anything but something special in the air.

But the airline that bests all others when it comes to managing customers’ expectations is Southwest, which claims to be neither trustworthy nor friendly nor special. It delivers a modest service for a modest price, without making any grand claims for itself. And Southwest’s customers are among the industry’s most satisfied, and the most loyal.

As Delta will discover, there’s a lot to be said for underpromising and overdelivering.

Reader Reality Check

When you think “The World’s Most Trusted Airline,” does Delta come to mind?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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