So it wasn’t exactly a flight to nowhere, rather a flight to Pensacola, but the flight seemingly serves no purpose. From the time I land until the time I depart I will be in Pensacola a grand total of 43 minutes.
As a traveller who spends a fair share of time in airports throughout the year you may be wondering what would compel me to get on a plane amidst the busy holiday season just for the sake of getting on the plane.
I am wondering the same thing.
When I first booked this flight, however, I didn’t feel it was a decision I was making rather a ‘forced hand‘.
You see, as a frequent traveller you try and welcome into your travel routine as many things as you can to make travel a little easier. Things that ease the process. Things that bring a little more comfort. Things that bring relief to the lonely monotony of life on the road.
One of those ‘things’ is my SkyMiles Medallion status with Delta.
Unfortunately heading into 2016 I was $112.00 short on my MQD’s (Medallion Qualification Dollars) spent with Delta; and despite being a faithful traveler who had exceeded my Medallion Qualifying Segments for the year I would be losing my 2016 status over $112.00.
Since I alway try to be a good steward of MRO’s funds as a non-profit, I alway seek out the cheapest flights possible (regardless of the sometimes painful flight hours). Unfortunately at the end of the year my thrifty air shopping bit me.
Over the years I’ve found Delta’s Twitter presence to be a fantastic extension of the service I’ve come to love from Delta so I tweeted my quandary to them seeking a resolution.
They offered a quick response:
@KFromanMRO Hi Kyle. You could either purchase a flight and travel before year end or purchase MQM’s via this link:… 1/2
— Delta Assist (@DeltaAssist) December 11, 2015
Unfortunately, the MQM purchase minimum was $500; which wasn’t necessarily in the Froman family budget for Christmas. Not to mention taking an extra flight is extremely hard to pull of this time of the year, especially after traveling all year long.
Following this exchange I decided to call Delta and speak with a representative. I explained my situation and offered to write them a $112 check to make up for the shortage; to no avail. I followed up my phone call with an email to their Customer Service and then an email to the President of SkyMiles.
Ultimately my emails led to this final response from Delta; basically shutting me down.
Despite being furious about this kind of service, that in very polite terms told me to ‘shut up’, I really wanted to maintain my Medallion in 2016 just because of what it means to me on each individual trip and the ease it brings to my travels.
This ultimately led me to finding the cheapest flight I could find between now and the first of the year. (I paid for this flight out of my own pocket, NOT MRO’s. After all I’m the one benefitting from it.)
So after Christmas I will be leaving my family again for a day and flying nowhere in order to maintain my Medallion status because of, what I felt in my opinion, corporate greed and poor customer service.
This story doesn’t end here, however, as it is wrapped in a beautiful bow of irony.
The very thing I was accusing Delta of was the thing that I was guilty of.
greed (ɡrēd): noun 1. intense and selfish desire for something
You see, I didn’t really need Medallion status, and I certainly didn’t need to schedule another flight in order to maintain it. Consider what that airfare could have done for others this Christmas season?
Consider the warm clothes that could have provided for those who needed them?
Consider the meals it could have provided for those who go without?
Consider the persecuted that money could have gone towards helping?
This list could go on….and on….and on.
While I can fairly claim that Delta pushed me to this waste of money, I can also be accused of my own selfishness, my own greed, pushing me to the very same place.
Not long after booking this flight we were sitting around the table discussing with Micah the different needs that exist around the world. Sharing with him how thankful we should be for all we have while many others may have so little.
We used that conversation as a gateway to talk with him about how we can give of ourselves, our resources, our stuff and our love to others. We talked about what a joy it is to give. That is when the full weight of my decision began to settle in.
Daily each of us in confronted with the decision of ‘self‘ or ‘others‘.
I chose wrong this time. I chose my own ‘luxury’ over the desperate needs of others.
The reality is I often choose wrong.
It’s not a money thing. Money is neither good nor bad; it is just a reflection of something else. It’s a heart thing.
My heart wanted that Medallion status so much that my finances just reflected that. It was selfishness that pushed me to that point.
I certainly feel Delta could have handled the situation much differently. It wasn’t about the $112.00; I was gladly willing and offering to pay that shortage to them. It was that customer satisfaction and loyalty could have been taken into account in working towards a resolution rather than shutting the entire conversation down.
But while I was saying “Shame on Delta” I should have been saying “Shame on Me” as well.
Not everything we buy for ourselves is selfishness. Not every luxury is wrong. But this one took my heart to a place it shouldn’t go. I chose ‘self‘ over ‘others‘ and I was aware of it.
I so often feel like Paul.
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15
Have you ever been there? I think we all have.
We’ve all wrestled with putting ourselves over others. We’ve all struggled with what we want over what others need.
It can become a very heavy guilt.
The good news is that the season we are walking through is a celebration of our freedom in spite of these moments.
As I am continually unwrapping the selfishness and irony in my own life I am simultaneously unwrapping the greatest gift that mankind has ever received.
It is the gift of freedom. The gift of grace. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of worth. The gift of love.
The gift of Jesus.
We are all continually dying to ourselves; yet walking in the redemptive gift of Jesus not only this Christmas season every day of our lives.
God, may I do what You would do. May I say what You would say. May I give as You would give. May I love as You would love.
May we all strive to live as simple conduits of God’s goodness; letting His love, compassion, goodness, forgiveness and resources flow through us. And where we fall short, may we rest in the forgiveness and grace of our Savior.