Last February, I praised Bloomberg Businessweek’s insider story of how United Airlines and Continental Airlines were tackling the nuts and bolts of their merger. Well, it’s now clear that however carefully they may have planned everything down to the last detail (or however carefully they told Bloomberg Businessweek they were planning it all), the logistics associated with the marriage have been a huge flop. As has been widely reported, the merged reservation and gate allocation systems have repeatedly failed, causing all kinds of customer grief. Bloomberg Businessweek needs to go back and tell us how these best-laid plans failed so miserably.

Meantime, as United suffers from these merger travails and American Airlines is in a tailspin mostly related to labor troubles while it sits in bankruptcy, Delta Airlines may be going in the opposite direction. From my own experience on some recent flights, as well as what I’ve heard from a few friends, Delta seems to be on the upsurge in terms of customer service and on time performance. Is that true? If so, why?

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Steven Brill , the author of Class Warfare: Inside the Fight To Fix America’s Schools, has written for magazines including New York, The New Yorker, Time, Harper's, and The New York Times Magazine. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer magazine, ten regional legal newspapers, and Brill's Content magazine. He also teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative.