Is there such a thing as a merger going too slowly?
This week, the Travel Diva wonders about the glacial pace of the Delta takeover of Northwest Airlines, which they m-u-s-t ... c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e ... b-y ... zzzzzzzz ...
Wake up, says Betsy Talsin, spokeswoman for Delta Airlines. Announced in April 2008, the merger isn't actually moving in slo-mo. It just has its own legal pace. And look for the biggest changes coming up in December and January.
QUESTION: Airport signs and uniforms have been changed to Delta. Food and fees have been coordinated. But travelers' tickets still say Northwest. When will this merger be finished, anyway?
ANSWER: Actually, we are moving quickly, more quickly than we originally planned. Airlines operate under certificates. By the end of the year we should have a single operating certificate. Until that time, flight operations continue as if they were pre-merger.
Q: If you get the single operating certificate by year's end, when will there be a single reservations system? Right now the Delta and Northwest computers can't talk to each other, even at the airport.
A: We expect to have combined reservations systems by January or February.
Q: Right now, travelers can still buy a Northwest ticket well into next year. What happens when the Northwest brand goes away, say, in February, and all the flights suddenly become Delta?
A: We are trying to make the process seamless for customers. Most flights will stay the same. You mostly likely will be able to use the same reservations.
Q: We know the Northwest WorldPerks frequent flier program will vanish, with all our miles being transferred to Delta SkyMiles. When will it actually happen?
Q: Have all the airports been rebranded to Delta? That seems to have happened quickly, in some cases confusing customers who show up for Northwest flights.
A: We've completed the rebranding of more than 200 airports, more than 80% of the total stations. All U.S. airports will be in the Delta brand by the end of the year.
Q: How many planes have been painted Delta colors? Delta executives said in July that 90% of all Northwest planes and half of contract regional carriers will have been painted by December.
A: We've painted 120 in Delta livery (colors).
Contact ELLEN CREAGER: 313-222-6498 or firstname.lastname@example.org