One of the most fun aspects of this year was trying out several airlines to evaluate which airline I will choose as my primary carrier in 2017. I thought I had it all figured out until Alaska Airlines announced several exciting changes to its Mileage Plan program after the Virgin America merger closed this week, but that I will save that for another day. For now I want to discuss an interesting business card sized note from Delta Air Lines which took me by surprise and highlighted one of the key issues I have had with Delta these past few months.

Delta Air Lines’ Jets Are Filthy!

Along the way one thing that sticks out about Delta Air Lines is how dirty the interior of its planes are. Generally, I am not talking about getting on the flight and seeing trash in the seat/floor, but rather the kind of filth and grime that builds up over years of use (the grey armrests which at one time would have been closer to white come to mind).

I am fairly unfamiliar with Delta’s operations, but based on the 20 or so flights I took with them this year I noticed a trend on impossibly quick airplane turnaround times. The number of times and inbound aircraft arrived ~15min late and left on time was truly impressive, but I wonder if it came at the cost of airplane cleanliness.

Delta Air Lines’ Jets Are Old!

According to Bloomberg Best (and worst), Delta Air Lines has the 2nd oldest fleet in the United States at 15.8 years. Now that number is skewed slightly due to the Company preferring to purchase second hand wide-body aircraft from Gulf and Asian carriers, but their workhorses are the Boeing 717, MD-88, and MD-90 all of which are fairly old and the years have not been kind to these jets. It seems as though years of interior neglect are finally coming to a head with Delta passengers and Delta management appears to have noticed as well.

Enter, A Business Card From My A Cleaning Crew

As I boarded a recent flight from Detroit Metro Airport, this is important, I discovered the card (featured image above) sitting on my “upgraded” Middle Comfort + Seat and both seats on either side. The card reads “Dear Valued Customer, We take pride in making your cabin look great so that you can feel comfortable throughout your travels. Should you receive a survey, (which I did not) please know that we strive for a five in cabin cleanliness and we hope that through our hard work you can freely sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight! Sincerely, Your SNA Cleaning Crew

I was recently introduced to the “Strive for Five” campaign, but this was the first time I had discovered a cleaning card. More importantly you may have noticed the cleaning card was signed from the SNA (John Wayne, Orange County, CA) Airport! Yep, this plane had obviously flown, rather empty, from SNA to DTW where it was “cleaned” before we boarded. I guess the cleaning crew in DTW did not see the need to change the card which makes me wonder how well the plane was cleaned in the first place!

Final Thoughts

Here’s the thing, airplanes are notoriously dirty! Anyone who travels frequently will often tell the same story, when I started traveling I got sick all the time. The trey table is often the dirtiest part of the plane and in some cases studies have found the trey table contains more germs than the lavatory!

That being said, Delta Air Lines’ jets seem incredibly dirty when compared to other legacy carriers and I speculate it is due to years of time saving “techniques” to turn the plane over quickly. I am sure the cleaning crew is doing a fine job given the time allotted, but I wonder why this particular Detroit cleaning crew decided to leave the cleaning cards from another airport. In my opinion, it would have been better to simply remove the cards since passengers would not know the plane hadn’t been “thoroughly” cleaned since its stop in California.

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