Delta in the news this week

Delta Air Lines is starting off 2016 in the news.

Refreshing gates at ATL

The modernized gates at ATL will be more open and feature sloped ceiling among other design touches   (Photo: City of Atlanta)

The modernized gates at ATL will be more open and feature sloped ceiling among other design touches (Photo: City of Atlanta)

Being in Atlanta, the story that the airline will be modernizing gates at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was exciting to read. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Delta will modernize 85 gates at ATL. The design appears to be more open and "...will include new sloped ceilings, new lighting, new seating, new carpet and new gate podiums." Construction is slated to start in June and continue for three years, though disruption to airport operations is not expected.

Hartsfield is my home airport and, despite being over 35 years old, the facility does not feel dated. The city and the airlines have done a good job keeping the look fresh (except for perhaps the giant ants on the ceiling in the North Terminal baggage claim...not sure who thought that was a good idea!). The artist renderings of the modernized gates are not highly detailed, but the design appears to be fresh and modern and should keep ATL competitive with newer airports in terms of design.

Delta now the second largest U.S. airline by passenger volume

For the first time since the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines has passed United in terms of passenger miles flown

Delta recorded 209.6 billion revenue passenger miles, an industry yardstick of traffic that multiplies the number of passengers by the distance flown. United recorded 208.6 billion revenue passenger miles, the company said in a statement Monday.
— "Delta climbs to No. 2 largest U.S. airline" - Delta Air Lines

The "new" American Airlines remains the largest U.S. carrier by passenger traffic. Sterne Agee CRT analyst Adam Heckel commented on how Delta's superior operating performance keeps passengers flying Delta. The timing of that observation is ironic. An article yesterday questioned whether the devaluation of Delta SkyMiles and other cuts for elite frequent flyers could harm customer loyalty. I hate to see Delta SkyMiles devalued and I can understand elite flyers' frustration. However, as someone who flies two or three times per year, my loyalty is not impacted if Delta is able to sell premium cabin seats rather than giving them away. But that is a topic that merits a full post...should I ever wish to actually deal with what, in my opinion, is a sense of entitlement by only a subset of a subset of Delta's customer base. The fact is that, for now, Delta is growing faster than United Airlines and is now the second busiest U.S. airline.