Delta will compensate corporate customers if on-time performance lags

Delta is promising corporate customers it will remain the top on-time "global" airline in the U.S. Photo: Delta. 

Delta is promising corporate customers it will remain the top on-time "global" airline in the U.S. Photo: Delta. 

We know Delta Air Lines has spent the past three years building itself into the nation's most reliable and on-time airline. But why?

We learned this week Delta believes being on-time is good business. In a video meant for corporate clients, the airline introduced what it calls the "operational performance commitment."

If Delta does not stay the No. 1 on-time "global" U.S. airline compared to United and American, it will compensate corporate customers. These guarantees are for the large companies that have big contracts with Delta. They generally buy millions of dollars in travel each year, and airlines are keen to steal corporate clients from each other, especially in competitive markets like New York and L.A.

Delta hasn't said how it will take care of customers if it falls to No. 2 or No. 3 in on-time performance, but it notes this commitment is an "industry first." [Delta is not comparing itself to smaller airlines like Hawaiian and Alaska, which generally have better on-time numbers.]

It would be fun if regular travelers also got some sort of rebate - maybe $5 per delayed flight - but somehow I doubt that will happen. On the bright side, all Delta customers get 2,500 bonus SkyMiles if their baggage is not delivered to the carousel within 20 minutes. 

You can watch Delta's overproduced and well-lit video to announce the policy, but since it's so rah-rah and filled with P.R. speak, I'm not going to embed it here.

Do you think this is a good move by Delta?

Incidentally, Gary Leff - who writes the View From The Wing blog - makes a good point in the comments section. It is not likely, he notes, that this will ever be a drag on Delta's bottom line.