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Nearly every top ten list of most common fears will contain the fear of flying. Yet commercial airplanes are one of the safest forms of travel (far safer than traveling by automobile). Vivid details of airplane crashes are embedded in most people’s memories and so airlines must constantly battle the perception that air travel can be dangerous and a hassle. Delta’s most recent incidents highlight this. While the article does not report how many total flights Delta made during the same timeframe, we can assume that these three flights represent a fraction of those that occurred. Still, Delta must address concerns about maintenance and the safety of its fleet.


1. When all airlines essentially offer the same thing, what can Delta do to create a competitive advantage? Think about your airline experiences (actual flight experiences or personal perceptions of airlines if you have never flown). Identify competitive advantages you associate with any of the major carriers.

2. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find a business that is purely service-oriented. Yet the airline industry interacts with its customers almost exclusively in a service role. What type of service technology does Delta utilize?

3. Discuss the significance of in-flight delays and on-time departure/arrival. Aside from being required to do so by the Federal Aviation Administration, why do airlines measure these things? How do today’s technologies (e.g., the World-Wide Web) help/hurt companies such as Delta in their customer relationship management efforts?

SOURCE: A. Pasztor, “3 Delta Planes Suffer Mishaps,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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