Delta Bets the Public Is Ready to Move On. And We Are. Big Time.

The public is tired. We’re worn out. We’ve paid our dues and deserve a break. Year after year of scraping by, eating Ramen noodles and consoling our unemployed friends and loved ones has all led to this: The reward. The payback for hanging tough. The feeling of indulgence, if just for a little while.

Delta Airlines is here to help the public do exactly that. Yes, you read that correctly, a U.S.-based airline is stepping up to make customers actually feel good about air travel. The last time that happened passengers were actually living the Mad Men life and not watching it on AMC. Yes, it’s been quite a while since the public had a reason to smile about flying.

But now Delta, as evidenced by a $1.2 billion investment in Terminal 4 at New York’s JFK airport, is unveiling a new attitude toward industry operations, profitability and most importantly, customers. You and me. The public. Yes, Delta wants to be liked by us. After years of saturating the public with promises of low fares and no-frills travel experiences, Delta is investing in the public’s emerging need for a break from the tedium and madness of air travel.

The public has had enough of the long and cringe-worthy security lines, the worn carpets and tired terminal aesthetics, the cancelled flights and cattle-call explanations from overworked employees, and the predatory fees for carry-on baggage and schedule changes. We can have nice things when we fly. And we deserve them.

Delta’s new and long overdue Terminal 4 in JFK will focus on the customer experience by offering more gates and security lines to reduce wait times and frustrating bottlenecks. Frequent fliers can indulge in a large lounge and the general public can escape the airport din in an outside observation deck. These may seem like common sense amenities—because they are—but they also mark the industry’s seismic shift in perspective: airlines are once again seeing customers as people and not numbers.

These past years have been tough, but the public survived. Though we still have to take our shoes off when flying, we now want to put our feet up. We’ve all come a long way since the day air travel changed forever. And we’re ready to move on.