Thursday, August 30, 2007
I've said all along that all I want is an apology and some sort of compensation for the horrible experience they put me through. I think six years is an awfully long time to wait for a resolution to this, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. So, no horror stories from the mailbag today, let's see if Delta does the right thing.
I'll keep everybody posted.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I am seeing a recurring theme in the e-mails I am getting-Delta's current customer service mindset, for lack of a better term, is "say anything to get rid of them".
Case in point. A Mr. "J" sent this email to Delta recently:
Last week I emailed you about my experience on Delta on June 30th. I still have not received a response. One of the issues was the wet and soiled clothing in our delayed luggage. I told you we had taken some of it to the cleaners to see if it could be salvaged. Unfortunately one of my wife’s blouses is permanently stained.
Yesterday was our return trip. We were scheduled on 4109 from MKE, connecting through ATL to PBI. 4109 was initially delayed and subsequently cancelled (mechanical). We were rebooked (I don’t remember the flight numbers) but they were also delayed (not sure why) and they were going to rebook us even later to arrive in PBI after midnight. Because I was scheduled on 466 at 7:45 this morning, PBI to LGA I asked to be rebooked instead to LGA or JFK last night. We were put on 4194 from MKE to CVG and arrived at 4:05 to wait for 4996 to JFK at 7:25. At 7:00 they announced a weather delay to 8:25. I went to the counter and asked if they had both equipment and crew to which your agent replied “yes” with a disdainful smirk. At 8:00 they announced a further delay as they were waiting for a crew member to arrive. We found out later it was the pilot. We departed about 9:00 and eventually arrived at JFK and as hard as it might be to believe, out luggage was on the flight.
In the last week I have suffered 24 hours in delays and delayed luggage with wet and soiled clothing on relatively short journeys. The excuses included weather, mechanical, and crew. I’m not sure if there are any others in your arsenal. In all that time I have witnessed hundreds of other Delta customers delayed, cancelled, and generally being treated with indifference by your employees. I will not accuse your gate agent of deliberately lying to me yesterday (she was probably just trying to placate and pacify me), but it seems that your employees, in the airports, on the SkyMiles special services number, in your baggage department, and even in your Crown Rooms are neither empowered nor motivated to do anything more for a customer than to make excuses and get them out of the way, not even being sincerely contrite about the problems. Your customers experience long waits in airports and sometimes days pass before they get to their scheduled destination. I cannot imagine how many vacations you have ruined and business trips you have interrupted. It seems the best experience one can expect from Delta is to arrive within a few hours of their original schedule, to minimize the negative impressions, not to somehow truly delight your customers, to make them loyal fans and repeat customers. Unfortunately for all the Delta employees that sort of corporate culture is demoralizing and if not corrected will take you once again into to bankruptcy and unemployment for many. It is truly a failure of senior leadership in your company.
As for me, I must now make arrangements to get my wife from New York to Delray Beach (probably JetBlue), where we were supposed to be last night, and I will continue my trip on to Charleston later this week and eventually join her (US Air). This chapter is over, except for the damaged blouse, and a deeply embedded distrust of Delta.
"It is truly a failure of senior leadership in your company." Well said, sir.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I had high hopes that this person, who spoke so highly of her organization and how they were turning things around, would be right and I would get a call or an e-mail from the higher ups at the airline. Unfortunately, their lack of action reinforces what I and the hundreds of people who have e-mailed me already know-Delta doesn't give a rat's behind about their customers.
I'm sure this Delta employee won't last long anyway-she is nice and treats people with respect.
Here is another post from the mailbag. This is from "anonymous" who experienced the "new and improved " customer service this Delta employee was talking about:
I have flown all the major airlines, and have found they can all slip up, but none compares to the horrendous experience of flying Delta. United may have a few surly employees, but none show the incompetence of their Delta counterparts.
On my most recent Delta nightmare started at check-in at Atlanta. The desk agents must have attended the Taliban school of customer service, and were yelling at everyone who had a question. I was one of the fortunate passengers who made it through without getting an earful for committing the crime of flying the airline and paying these peoples' salaries. I checked in two and a half hours before my flight took off, had a direct flight, the weather was good, so I figured it should be a fairly relaxing travel experience. And it was, until I got on the plane and was crammed into a 757 seat that looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the Reagan administration.
When I landed, the airport felt like a soap commercial compared to the filthy jet from which I had just deplaned. I then spent 45 minutes waiting for my bag, which never made it. In the midst of yelling at other passengers whose bags they had lost, the local baggage office staff gave me the 800# for tracking my poor, lost suitcase. I asked how they could lose a suitcase on a direct flight for which I checked in so early, but logic did not seem to be their strong point.
The 800# was a joke. It was almost always busy, and when I got through, I was on hold for nearly an hour before someone picked up. The people I spoke to were useless, the only thing they could tell me was that my bag might be on the next flight. That was an OK answer right after I landed, but not five days later when over 50 more direct flights had come in from Atlanta. After learning that it would be three months before I received compensation, I decided to speed up the process by going to the airport. At this point, Osama bin Baggage Man at the baggage office refused to help me get a claim form, or to give me any information on my bag.
Not having any more time to deal with this lame airline, I decided I had to accept the loss. Considering that the Atlanta hub makes O'Hare look well run, I hope I don't have to fly Delta again. But next time if they ask me if my bags have been with me at all times, I'll make sure they stay with me after I board the plane.
Delta touts this as a way to communicate with their customers. I think its just another lame attempt by a corporation to give the appearance of caring about their customers. Case in point: the are already deleting any comments that are critical of Delta. This makes the blog useless. If Delta can't take criticism this will just be another example of a corporation stroking itself to feel good.
Ten days and counting since I sent a fedex package to Delta's head of customer service. Still no response.
Let's take a look at some of the mail I got this weekend:
"Good luck with getting a response from Delta. They lost my baggage on a recent trip and tried to tell me for days that I had picked it up-they basically accused me of lying. Funny how it turned up in my connecting city. When I confronted them about this all I got was indifference. they won't be getting any more of my money"
Tim-at least you got a hold of customer service. I was hung up on and laughed at, then I was ignored. Until I hear from them, they won't get anymore of my money (and I'm not holding my breath).
Here's a longer one from "A"
I wanted to fly to Salt Lake City early in the morning so that I am there ahead of time for a presentation. After standing up at 4:40am and driving over an hour to Irvine I finally arrived at the gate. Like before the airplane was late so no panic but then the airplane could not reach the gate because of a fuel spill on another gate. Finally nearly an hour late the plane arrived and we could board. Now after everyone settled in the captain informed us about the backup generator not working and that we have to leave the plan. Then I had to wait in lane another hour to see how I could reach SLC. Finally they decided to do the flight at 12:45pm and so we had to go through security again. Arrived at the gate I had to wait another 20 minutes to get a meal voucher of a whopping $7 even though a Mocha and a sandwich at Starbucks was around $14. Then at 1pm we finally could board again. 20 minutes later the captain finally announced that we go the replacement generator and they are now starting to install it. "What the f... is going on?" I thought. They let us board and wait for an hour like sardines in a tin can even though they knew this all along. Not to mention that they were not able to serve some refreshments while we were sitting and waiting. Finally 2pm we left the gate.
I don't mind the fact that something went wrong and that we had to wait but Delta's behavior made me stand in line for several hours preventing me from doing some work or eat something good and healthy. In addition they only announced as little as possible and so everyone I talk to from Delta was technically not lying but collectively they did. It is like when you are quitting your job or a service agreement with a provider when you will find out what the other party is made of. The way they handle such things says more about a company than any speeches, compliments or awards. In this case it means that customers are just a necessary nuance for the airlines and that the best way to deal with them is to keep them uninformed, waiting and just below the anger threshold. It is like a ride in Disneyland where each corner of the line just reveals a little bit more of the line so that people tend to hope that the next corner is the end of the line. One reason why I try to get around the mandatory trip to Disneyland with my sons is just because of that. It is a day of waiting and spending an awful lot of money. The only dream that is coming true in Disneyland is the dream of the shareholders to get rich.
Maybe Delta accomplished their goal by keeping us around until we finally went under way but I am seriously considering other airlines where I hope they are friendlier and more forthcoming.
Mr. "A"-I went through the same thing and, like you, all I ask is to be informed and not lied to. Unfortunately, it seems Delta employees are trained in lying to the customer. My advice is to tray and contact customer service (good luck-they'll just hang up on you) and if you don't get any satisfaction, don't give them anymore of your money.
Friday, August 24, 2007
"I came across this blog when I was doing a search for a way to get in touch with Delta's executives so I can let them know that they are coming close to losing a good customer. I have been flying Delta for over eight years now and I have tens of thousands of frequent flier miles. Does that matter to Delta? Evidently not. In the past six months I have been insulted, ignored and lied to by Delta employees. Whan I call to complain, I get indifference or get put on hold forever until I hang up in frustration. I sometimes have to fly other airlines and the difference is like night and day. Example: I flew northwest the other day. The staff was attentive and friendly, and while we had a delay getting off the ground the pilot kept us informed as to why we were taking off late and gave us updates on the situation.
I was in the same situation with Delta a few weeks ago and we kept getting contradictory information. First it was mechanical. Then it was the weather. Then it was the fuel numbers didn't match (whatever that means). Because we were late I missed my connection (the last flight out) and had to stay the night at the airport because (this from a Delta employee) "Delta doesn't compensate passengers for weather related delays". Funny, I didn't know that mechanical problems and messed up fuel numbers were weather related.
My advice to anyone reading this: DON'T FLY DELTA. EVER. As sson as I can use up my FF miles I'm going to another carrier. BTW, thanks for letting people know how crappy Delta is. Good luck to you."
Thomas, good luck to you also. I can empathize because I've been on the receiving end of Delta's "customer service" and so have my employees. It got so bad that I now forbid my people from flying on Delta. I just couldn't afford the lost work time and stress on my employees. We now fly Continental or Northwest. I find it interesting that since we took Delta out of the mix, my employees are less stressed and are missing less days of work after travel. But, hey, that's just my opinion.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Fast forward to today where Delta's staff is overworked and stretched to the limit. You might get a cursory hello if you are lucky. If anything goes wrong with the flight, you are lied to, given the runaround or, in my case, ignored.
I hope Delta returns to the days of excellent customer service and takes responsibility for their screw-ups. They have a new marketing campaign touting their new and improved customer service, but I haven't seen any evidence of that since they continue to ignore my complaint. It might change-But I'm not betting on it.
It has been six days and counting since Delta got my letter. Still no response. Looks like Rudy is going to lose the bet
To illustrate my point, here a recent story of how the "New" delta is acting like the "Old" Delta
It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend with a group of dear friends in Maine. It sure didn't start out that way...
On Friday afternoon, we get to JFK airport to be told by a Delta representative that our flight was canceled.
"The weather," says the rep as if that answers everything.
"The weather? Why don't you just wait for the weather to get better rather than canceling?" I say.
"I don't know. It's the pilot's decision," she says.
"It seems odd. It is gorgeous in New York, Boston and Maine," I say.
"Sorry. The computer says the weather is bad." Says the rep. She was done with us. No offer to put us on a different flight, compensate us, nothing.
Well, if the computer says the weather is bad, then it must be bad. Still, something tells me that "the computer" also finds it convenient to cancel flights and then blame the weather to avoid having to compensate travelers. This is not the first time Delta has been accused of doing this.
I will spare you the details of our adventurous trip up to Maine but I will mention that they finally put us on an alternative flight to Boston instead (somehow, the weather for that flight was OK) and a shuttle from there to Portland, ME. Needless to say, the weather was great throughout this entire trip.
I was shocked how poorly Delta treated us. They basically kept saying "Well, it's the weather, there is nothing we can do." I know for a fact that there are things they can do. So can I. Never flying Delta again is step one. (Unless, of course, I get a personal apology letter from Delta's CEO, like Bruce Nussbaum from Business Week did. Yeah, right.)
"New" Delta my ass.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
"I saw your blog today and I have to tell you that as a former Delta employee I hated people like you. You are ungrateful assholes who had nothing better to do than make my life a living hell. So you missed your connection. So what? So you had to go hungry for a night. Poor baby. So you had to sleep in an airport for a night. I'm so sorry, little princess. People like you should be loaded into a plane and crashed into the side of a mountain. You think that just because you purchased a ticket, you should be treated like Donald Trump. I hope you burn in hell."
Where do I start? First of all, I do not think that I should be treated like Donald Trump just because I bought a ticket. I do think I should be treated like a human being and not repeatedly lied to by Delta employees. Second, I didn't get to sleep in the airport. I was traveling with my laptop and carry on so I had to stay awake to watch my possessions and couldn't get a wink. And while you have little sympathy for my being hungry, I want to remind you that I was told by DELTA employees that my food vouchers were good and that the food court was open-they lied to get rid of me. Finally, I am so sorry that my mere existence is enough to wish me a fiery death. Perhaps everybody who flies Delta will follow your advice and stop wanting special treatment like being told the truth and being treated like a human being. Of course, for that to happen, they will need to start flying another airline.
BTW, it is now five days and counting since Delta got my letter. Still no response. Rudy,that starbucks is going to taste pretty good.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
So, three days and counting. No response from Delta. I'm not holding my breath. I made Rudy a little bet. He seems to think that Delta will fall all over themselves to make things right. I think Delta will live up to their reputation of crapping on the customer whenever possible. A $10 Starbucks card is riding on this one.
Honestly, I hope I have to pay up. It would be nice to be treated like a human being and be told "hey, we screwed up, and we're sorry. Here's something to make it right." But given my experience and the experiences of hundreds of people who have written in with similar stories, I just don't see it happening.
Case in point: Read "M's" Opinion of Delta
I'm sure someone out there has had a trouble-free interaction with Delta but it sure as hell wasn't me.
These people are fucking morons. Plain and simple. They're dumb as a bag of hammers, box of nails or fencepost; take your pick. I speak from having suffered the unbelievably unpleasant experience of trying to use flyer miles for a pair of tickets. They made each and every step in the process as unpleasant as possible. From phone clerks that can't speak decent english or are too clueless to know when they're lying, websites that run you in circles, voice response mazes requriing endless touchtone sequences only to require verbal repeating, to... ugh, the list to too damn long to bother.
This, combined with my recent cross-country trip to San Diego where the seats rows have been packed in even CLOSER than ever, have made me decide not only to NEVER fly Delta again but to make sure everyone I know doesn't either.
Clueless phone service, rude gate and in-flight personnel and conveniently bizarre policies with impossible conditions make it completely clear, Delta doesn't give a rats ass about their customers.
Do yourself a favor, fly on ANY other airline. Just don't fly on Delta.
I understand exactly how you feel, Mr "M", I've been waiting six years to have my complaint resolved. I do disagree with the "rat's ass" comment. I don't even think they care that much.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I have been reading your blog with amusement and disgust. I , too used to be a loyal delta customer until they lost my luggage three times, left me stranded halfway to my destination without giving me any way to get there and took us off a plane that was ready to take off under the guise of "mechanical problems" only to turn around and fill the plane up with people going to a different destination and let it take off.
In every situation above customer service was either indifferent, rude, or downright contemptuous. Delta truly is the most horrible airline ever to exist, and their staff must have been recruited from a nazi concentration camp. These people will go out of their way to belittle and humiliate you. I will never ever fly Delta again. I will walk to my destination before I give these people another dime. I now fly continental and get treated like a real human being.
I'm glad you're letting everyone know how Delta really feels about their customers. Hopefully people will wake up and stop giving them their money. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the encouraging words Randall.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
My husband and I just returned from Loreto, Mexico on 3/12/07 flying on Delta/Atlantic Southeast and it had to be the worst travel experience we have had, and we've traveled a lot.
We flew from San Francisco to LAX on 3/6/07, Delta cancelled our flight and rerouted us onto United. This caused our luggage to miss our connecting Delta flight from LAX to Loreto so we had no luggage for the first two days of our trip. Although inconvenient, this seems somewhat minor compared to three other passengers that were travelling on the same flight and had chartered a fishing boat and lost all their gear on the same flight.
We thought that after we finally received our luggage that it was a one-time event but we were sadly proved wrong. On our return trip we arrived at the Loreto airport to find that their computers were all down, they had no record of our return flight or the ability to print our boarding passes.
After waiting at the ticket counter for 45 munites they finally printed our tickets and we were able to board, at which point we sat on the runway in Loreto for an hour. The Delta ground crew insisted that they print a Gate Manifest for our flight, unfortunately their computers were down again and this delay caused us to arrive 45 minutes late at LAX. Our connecting flight was out of LAX at 6:05, we arrived at 5:25.
We had to get through Customs, re-check our luggage, go through Security and get to another gate in less than 20 minutes to catch our connecting flight to San Francisco. Delta provided no gate info (what they printed in Loreto was incomplete and incorrect); they had noone at our arrival gate at LAX to direct us to Customs or to our correct gates; noone at the Delta LAX counter knew what was happening or what we should do.
We finally managed to re-check our bags after Customs, get through Security, and we ran to the gate. We were the second to last people to board.
Upon arrival in SFO we went to baggage claim only to find that we had no luggage! We were not alone, there were two other parties that had traveled on the same plane with us from Loreto and they had no luggage either. However, one woman who was the last person to board after us in LAX got all of her luggage.
We filed our paperwork with Delta baggage and left the airport. Delta told us that the luggage would be delivered to us by the next day at 12:00 P.M. We waited until 4:00 P.M. the next day, no luggage and we started calling Delta. We checked the website and we waited. Each time we called we got a different story, our luggage had been delivered, our luggage was in LAX, our luggage was on an American Airlines flight, the stories were endless.
By Wednesday, March 14th! I called American Express to see if they could help through Global Assist. They too got a run around as to the whereabouts of the luggage. No one seemed to know what had happened to it.
At 8:00 P.M. that night I recieved a phone call from a courier service asking me where I wanted my luggage delivered. The two bags were delivered at 12:05 A.M. on Thursday, one bag was very damaged and the other bag had been gone through and had several items stolen.
Delta has refused to repair the damaged bag and claims no responsibility for the theft of contents and has not accepted any responsiblity for any of the incidents cited in this post.
I am an American Express Delta SkyMiles Platinum card member. I have lost all faith in Delta and as soon as we use our miles I am cancelling my membership with them.
I'm posting this because I want other travelers to know what a terrible experience this has been and how poorly Delta has handled it.
"There are two possible explanations. First, these people are being overwhelmed by complaints from travelers, and their mailboxes are full. Or second, they have changed their email addresses to avoid being contacted by customers." If its the former then they need to revamp their complaint system. If its the latter it just reinforces what I said in a previous post: Delta would rather have you go away, be unhappy, and fly another airline than do anything to make up for or acknowledge their horrible customer service.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Well Rudy, if you read the post that started this blog, you would find that my horrible experience goes way beyond being whiny. Delta lied to myself and the passengers on my flight repeatedly just so they could get us out of their hair. What they did shows a real contempt for their customers, and I feel a company should be held accountable for dismal service. as for the second part of your question yes, I have contacted them on many occaisons. I called customer service immediately after the incident and was hung up on and laughed at the two times I actually got a human being and wasn't put on hold for two hours. You ask what would they have to do to make things right? Do what any decent human being does when they screw up-apologize. Acknowledge that I am a customer and I was wronged. Maybe a couple of tickets-not vouchers-real, honest to god tickets-to compensate me for the hell I went through. But I'm not holding my breath.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
From Mr "D"
On Sunday March 24,2002, myself and six of my friends had booked a flight from Myrtle Beach to LaGuardia Airport, New York. When we arrived to check in we were immediately told that the flight was overbooked and that we did not have seats on the flight. We were then told our only option was to take a Continental Airlines flight to Newark, New Jersey later that morning, otherwise we would be stranded in Myrtle Beach until Tuesday. At that point we were booked on the Continental flight, given a voucher to cover our transportation from Newark to LaGuardia and sent on our way with no instructions on how obtain transportation to LaGuardia and no compensation whatsoever for our tremendous inconvenience. We had booked a limo to take us from LaGuardia to our homes, but because of the delay (we arrived at LaGuardia a full 6 hours after we were originally scheduled to arrive)the limo was unavailable and we had to rely on family members to pick us up.
To be honest, I've been fairly satisfied with Delta in the past.I will, however, look hard for alternative airlines in the future, and you can be sure I will urge others to avoid Delta Air Lines whenever possible.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
This is from a "Miss S"
Let me preface this by saying if at all possible, NEVER fly through JFK airport in New York, and NEVER EVER use Delta Airlines.
I was scheduled to fly home Thursday morning from Phoenix, AZ. We made wonderful time to the airport, even though there was traffic. I had been concerned about our flight because they admitted they had seriously overbooked it. But fortunately, we made it there early enough and were given three seats in a row for my children and I. After we said goodbye to my father is when it all slowly started to unravel into a nightmare of Hollywood proportions.
The gate area was packed with people waiting for the flight, when someone noticed that the board suddenly displayed a two hour later time of departure. The agents didn't want to announce it, but finally they were forced into it by their supervisor (I got to hear all the behind the scenes chatter between the supervisor and the agents because of where I was sitting.) Apparently, JFK had an "all ground stop" in effect.
I was concerned about my connecting flight, but I was told mine had been delayed just enough too that it shouldn't be a problem. They boarded the flight two hours late, and then informed everyone after sealing the plane that we were "going to a remote location on the tarmac to wait anywhere between an hour to two hours." Fortunately, it was only just over an hour. We had a relatively uneventful flight out to New York, and I thought everything would be fine as I got off the plane.
Unfortunately, I walked into a nightmare. Whatever had happened at JFK earlier had caused a massive circus. I walked into people crammed into every inch of the terminal. People shouting, lines to counters over 100 people long, no restaurants (even fast food) to be had minus a couple stands which we did make use of (two small sandwiches and a water cost me $28!!!) We found a spot on the floor to stick close together and eat, since the screens all said my flight was delayed another two hours to get back to Vermont.
We were eating, and watching people going crazy while Delta did things like load two planes simultaneously through a single gate, when I heard the people say behind me "Damn it! They canceled our flight to Burlington!" Oh dear. Four other flights were canceled up on the board as well.
I gathered up the kids, mid-sandwich, and got into line. We were in the line over an hour. By the time I got to the counter, the agent didn't even speak to me, just took my tickets and started tapping at the computer in a completely bored manner. I finally said "could you maybe tell me what's going on?" She replied that she was looking for the next flight to put me on to Vermont and it was SUNDAY (remember, it's Thursday.) I told her that this wouldn't do, and looked up at the screen. There was a flight leaving for Albany, NY (about 2 1/2 hours from home) in 25 minutes, could they put us on that? No, she informed me - you must be checked in 30 minutes prior. So while there were seats, she refused to put us on the plane. Standby for the next day wasn't an option.
The people next to me were on the same flight having the same problem. We chatted with each other and decided that we would all rent a van and drive back together. Fantastic idea right? So, we all left the counter without getting booked on anything. We're going to drive home, why bother? Ok, note for all the travelers out there - even if you think you are going to do something else, get booked on SOMETHING.
As a group, we went to the vehicle rental area and tried to get a van. Every single rental place was SOLD OUT. I kid you not. We went through ten rental companies. I realized that Enterprise car rentals wasn't listed, called and got the number, talked to a representative who then informed me that while they did have cars, they refused to rent a one way car. The car must be returned to New York. I should mention that my mental state at this point was starting to break down. I begged her, and said that what about another town in New York State? Something close to the border of Vermont? She finally found one and said that would be alright... oh but OOPS for me, they JUST CLOSED! Oh, and besides, it wouldn't seat everyone anyway and she suggested I try for it tomorrow and put the kids in the same seatbelt.
At this point, I was beginning to panic. We were out of car rental options, had no ticket booked or anything. As we turned to go back to the ticket counter (the idea was to ask delta to look at other airlines and see if we could purchase a ticket on there, we were also looking at the bus and so on. I should also add that Delta refused any responsibility for any of this. They said it was due to weather earlier in the day that these flights had been canceled - there was NO weather issues in New York that evening - and so it's our problem not theirs) a couple Delta representatives and security came up and actually KICKED US OUT OF THE AIRPORT!
They said this upstairs Delta area was closed for the night. We explained we needed to get booked on something, have some option, they told us we had to make our way to the night ticketing area. OK, we said, how do we get there. We were told we could have gone through the inside, but they were closed and were not going to make any exceptions, so we should walk around the outside until we found the right way in.
Now, let me explain something to you all - it's after 10 PM, it's dark. There are no side walks. There are no lights. I'm just grateful I wasn't the only one locked out. There were about 15 of us. We had to walk the outside of the airport for over 40 minutes looking for a way in. And by the outside of the airport, I mean we were walking on the highway vehicle on-ramps and roads with oncoming traffic. I cannot begin to express to you my terror of keeping my six and nine year old safe and in my line of sight while walking in the dark on busy roads, locked out of an airport without anywhere to go. We were turned away from multiple entrances by people who could have given a damn.
We finally found the way in, and proceeded to stand in line at least another 30 minutes. I finally got an agent and she spent her time working on my ticket and LAUGHING with the other agents at everyone's distress over the situation. I'm not kidding. I would have leaped over the counter and hurt her if I wasn't so terrified about what the hell I was going to do. I went through the whole dance again about when could I get on a flight to Vermont - Sunday. What about closer to home airports - No. What about flying me through another airport (like Boston, to Vermont) - No. She kept asking about other nearby airports, but there really aren't that many.
I heard someone mention Manchester, NH. I had forgotten that one, and it's still about three hours from home - but better than this. So, I mentioned that one. She said she could get us on that for Friday evening (late). Still, it was better than nothing. Fine. She went tapping away, and then said "Alright, I need your passport."
I figured she was confused and I said "You mean my I.D., right? I have that right here..."
"No, you need a passport."
My jaw dropped. Several things sprung to mind. I suppose the worst one to come out would have been "Are you F****** with me?" Fortunately, the one that actually made it to my vocal cords was "But New Hampshire is a State in the US! Manchester, NH is IN the United States!"
"You still need a passport to go there."
"NO, I DON'T! It's in the USA! I'm not leaving the country to get there, it's not a foreign country, I don't need a passport!"
"Yes you do. You need a passport to go to Manchester."
"You aren't looking at Manchester in the United Kingdom, right? You have the right flight to New Hampshire?"
"Yes, and you need a passport. Without a passport, I cannot book you on this flight."
"I DO NOT NEED A PASSPORT TO GO TO NEW HAMPSHIRE!" At this point I was seriously at my breaking point. The total absurdity of the situation, the fact that it was almost midnight, the nightmare I was in, I almost started crying. How do you convince someone that New Hampshire is in the USA and you don't need a passport? Shouldn't that be common sense for a TICKET AGENT?!?!? I was so blown away, I didn't even know what to do. She may have noticed that I was about to totally lose it, because she took my drivers license and then called someone. They spent over half an hour chatting on the phone (making fun of the people freaking out all around us) and finally booked us on the flight.
I heard one guy a few counters down start screaming "I expect customer service, that's what I expect! You expect that when you go out, why the hell shouldn't I expect it!!!" My agent laughed and shook her head and said in this sing-song voice "The more they shout, the lesssssss we help them! Ha ha!" Another guy was on his cell phone to Delta shouting about how he had paid for trip insurance and everything, and apparently Delta told him since this was due to weather earlier in the day, it wasn't their fault and they owed him nothing. He didn't take that well.
I finally had the tickets, and my children were in tears. I knew I needed to get to somewhere to stay. We went down to the area where they have hotel information and it was completely deserted. It was just a cement area that echoed and one guy working behind a glass enclosed counter that was for hotel room placement. I got there and he immediately shook his head at me and said in broken English "All hotels booked. No rooms."
I said that there had to be rooms somewhere, please, please. He insisted that there was not. The kids were seriously losing it at this point, crying and scared. Hell, I was scared and not far from crying either. The guy's supervisor showed up and tried making some calls, he said there was a motel about 40 minutes out and I'd have to take a cab out there and hope they had a room. It didn't sound good at all, plus I didn't have the cash for a 40 minute cab fare. I did lose it at that point. I started tearing up and said to them that I didn't know what to do. My flights had been canceled, all the cars were sold out, I couldn't get a flight - hell they wouldn't even let me back in the airport, and that I was scared. I needed a safe place to take my children - please help me, please, please help.
I'm not proud I did that. I actually feel rather ashamed for not be calmer and stronger, but the supervisor called the Ramada in front of me and asked (a lot of pleases to them) and got me a room. It cost me $300. I then had to find a cab to take us there. I went out to the taxi stand and was informed that it was closed for the night. Can I just say that of all the things I expected in New York, things like taxi stands closing at midnight was not one of them? I was told I could hike out to the freeway and try to get one there. I begged again, and he took pity on me and called one in. Three other people showed up behind me and he rolled his eyes and called one for them too.
The guy then went on to say that apparently Delta has been doing this for weeks now. They are using any excuse they can to cancel evening flights. I passed that along to my father, and he said that makes sense since Delta is fighting their way out of Bankruptcy - financially, doing this is good business for them. Anyway, we waited over 30 minutes before the taxi got there. It took us to the hotel (a $20 cab fare for just over 5 minutes in the cab.)
We walked inside the hotel and there was a line of about 60 people in front of us trying to get a room. I heard that even though we prepaid at the airport, they might not have a room. I was tearing up again, but I decided this lobby was safer for sleeping in than the airport bathroom - because we were almost at that point. It was at this point that the only moment of true kindness happened. A woman in front of us was there with her family. They had driven in to catch a flight and were bumped. She heard some of what happened and saw my kids crying (it was almost 1 AM at this point) and she said that if we were turned away that they would personally drive us to another hotel until we found a room. I almost hugged her on the spot, I also almost burst into tears again.
When I got to the counter I was informed that all they had left was a single. I didn't care. I took it. It was the size of a closet, and reeked of smoke so badly I had an asthma attack (since I had my inhaler this was the least of my worries) - but since it had a bathroom and a door lock it was safe. I could stop. I put the kids into bed, both of them sobbing, and snuggled them until they went to sleep. I then called my husband (who I had been in and out of contact all night with on my cell phone.) We agreed that given what we knew that there was a good chance that the NH flight the next night would be canceled too. He was going to come and get us in the morning, even though it's over a six hour drive.
I hung up, and then cried myself to sleep - I think it was just a combination of this all being such a nightmare, and finally being safe after everything we had been through. I slept only a couple of sporadic hours. We had no clothes, or anything because our bags actually WENT to Vermont. The hotel said they had no little packages left of the toothbrush/hairbrush things. So we slept in our clothes and didn't brush our teeth, but that was hardly worth complaining about. I wanted to give the kids a bath in the morning, but the mat in the tub was rotted out and covered with mildew so I opted not to do so. Then the hotel asked us to check out early, after originally telling us we could stay until 1 PM.
I finger combed my hair as best I could and tried to straighten up our clothes, and then we checked out and went down to the restaurant to eat a very slow lunch waiting for my husband who had left first thing in the morning. He finally arrived looking exhausted, but I was so happy to see him. He ate lunch and then we jumped in the car, only to get stuck in a three hour traffic jam through Manhattan. Half way home, my son got car sick and threw up. My daughter had a headache, and I had a migraine. But I have to tell you, when we finally crossed the border back into Vermont everyone cheered.
We arrived home at 10:30 PM last night. I put the kids into a bath, even though they were exhausted. I showered and got into clean clothes as well. There are few things I appreciate more than a pair of clean underwear right now. Before I went to bed, I called Delta and asked about my bags. They're in Vermont at the airport, they refuse to deliver them because they didn't lose them. My argument that they lost ME didn't hold any water apparently. So we have to drive an hour to the airport and pick them up today.
I did ask Delta to take some responsibility for the situation (nightmare), they refused. I'm writing a letter of complaint, but I was told they don't care because this wasn't their fault. So I'm doing the only other thing I can: tell everyone I know never to fly with Delta.
I know I shouldn't still be tearful today, but I am. I slept late this morning, and it was so incredible to wake up in my own bed. I cannot even express how terrifying it was to go through that. It would have been bad in any case, but having my kids with me and feeling as though I couldn't protect and provide for their safety was horrible. I will never be able to get the image of walking on the highway with our backpacks trying to just find a way into the airport in the dark with cars coming at us, or one of the other images of the night that I experienced out of my head. At least I now understand how movies can literally be based on this type of circumstance. Who knew?
I'm working on trying to find the humor in the situation, but minus the fact that apparently Manchester, New Hampshire is a foreign country, I'm just not there yet. Worse yet, in about a week I'm flying to Minnesota with the kids. The last thing I want to do is get on another plane.
I wonder if I'll need a passport to go there? ;)
** Update: We drove to the airport and got all our bags (several with new holes in them, I think to make sure they got in their parting shots at us because they hadn't done enough already) and there were several people in line complaining about various things. The woman at the Delta counter was the ONLY one who said sorry to me at all throughout this whole mess. I am grateful I got my bags, and I'm home. I'm filing a complaint with Delta, the BBB, and the FAA (though I don't see how complaining to the FAA about this would matter - seems out of their jurisdiction, but I'm just going to send the same letter to everyone.) I can't think of anyone else to complain to, so I'll leave it at that.
When I called their "Customer Care Line", the woman immediately went on the attack when I said I had a problem. I can only imagine that she was probably fielding calls all day from upset passengers. I tried to be nice, but being told that an airline cannot possibly accept responsibility for anything that happened really irritated me. Maybe not, but I feel like they should to some degree. I feel that my children and I were victimized by Delta, and no one there even cares - or worse, they think it's funny. That's inexcusable.
** I spoke with the FAA, Department of Transportation this morning (7/30) and she explained the industry is deregulated (did you all know that? I didn't.) They don't have to do anything, it's the airline's choice to help out stranded travelers or not. Still she agreed some of what I went through was simply absurd (like the whole passport thing) and had me file a written complaint. So that covers everyone I think; FAA, BBB, Delta. Now I suppose I just try to forget it and never use Delta again.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I almost always fly JetBlue or Southwest. When forced to turn to one of the members of the old line oligopoly, I avoid Delta because I’ve always considered them the worst of the worst. They always struck me as not just indifferent to the idea of customer satisfaction, but oddly hostile to it.
I thought back to a few experiences I had with JetBlue over the winter when I frequently used that airline to shuttle back and forth between Florida and Boston. One time in January, our morning flight was an hour late because of mechanical difficulties. The gate attendants rolled over a cart of complimentary Dunkin Donuts and coffee to show their concern. A few weeks later, a JetBlue flight was delayed two hours because of mechanical difficulties. I was delighted to receive an email a few days later with a flight voucher worth the total cost of the flight.
And then there was my conversation with David Neeleman, the then-CEO of JetBlue in the wake of their organizational breakdown that stranded thousands of passengers this winter. The pain in his voice was unmistakable. He cared not only about losing customers, but about his airline living up to its commitments. It’s called ethics.
I couldn’t help comparing JetBlue with Delta as my wife and I sat angrily at the Courtyard Marriot, munching on Cheetos while my lungs became congested. Obviously, I’ll never fly Delta again. Ever. Our “Delta Awards” American Express Gold Cards will be cut in half after this month’s bill is paid.
To be completely honest, there is nothing Delta could do to win my forgiveness. I would, however, like Delta to give me my money back for yesterday’s flight just because it would be the right thing to do. I’m not optimistic on that front. When I mentioned the idea to the customer service supervisor, he pretty much laughed in my face.
As far as I’m concerned, though, Delta is dead to me. It’s not a brother, not a friend, and I want two days notice when it comes to visit our mother. But that’s no big deal. I’ve loathed Delta for a long time. But my wife is a loyal flyer and a Silver Medallion member. Or should I say “was.” Delta is dead to her, too. When you treat customers like something you stepped in, there will be consequences.
Delta canceled the flight after not enough crew members could be located to operate the plane. Mills was arrested and has been charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence, alcohol intoxication and terroristic threatening, after she told the captain "you're dead," as she was escorted out of the plane and placed onto a stretcher.
Mills is currently in the Fayette County, KY jail. And yes, apparently "terroristic threatening" is a real crime. Good job, Delta. This regional carrier represents your brand well.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Any way here are the stories as promised:
I really wanted to like Delta, as I love flying Continental and would love to be able to get Continental miles while travelling to additional destinations.
But Delta is a bad airline. I fly a lot. Many airlines are decent. A few are really good. Some are horrendous. Delta is just bad. It's not the bottom of the barrel. But it's not an airline I'll come back to so easily if I can avoid it.
I've flown with them several times and none of my experiences was good.
Last time I flew was the worse.
I flew both on one of their smaller planes and on one of their larger planes and the experience was similar.
They have older airplanes, with lots of seats and very minimal leg room. The chair barely goes back. It was one of the most uncomfortable rides. At a time when all airlines are competing for business, it seems Delta prefers to get as many people onboard with little concern for comfort.
The second flight was delayed by over an hour, and talking to the Delta people, it seemed like they're used to delays.
I had to take to flights, with a connection in Utah. The first plane was a small plane, so I couldn't take carry on, onboard. When I arrived in Utah, much to my horror I discovered that my carry on's wheels were torn. I asked the Delta people to help me locate the wheels, as It was totally uncomfortable to carry a carry on in my hand, and not be able to wheel it around.
It's a new very small carry on and I was extremely angry about their mishandling of it.
When I complained at the Delta counter they told me Delta doesn't cover broken wheels. I told them, they didn't break my wheels- the whole bottom of the carry on was torn, and the wheels were missing.
The woman there was uncurtious and unhelpful and told me, it happens, but that Delta isn't responsible for things that stick out of the luggage.
I looked at her in awe, as I didn't understand what that means, except that Delta seems not to want to take responsibility for their mishandling of luggage.
Food on the plane was minimal. One could either get a granola bar, or 6 crackers. In todays world, where there are 99 cent stores that make a profit selling so much snacks. An airline being so cheap is annoying.
Their website is also not easy to deal with. They need to hire someone to make it much more user friendly.
There's a lot of competition out there, and since Delta feels that customers come last, they've lost me as a customer.
June of 2007. This had to be possibly one of the worst experiences of my life. Landed very late at O'Hare because of mechanical difficulties with our aircraft so we missed our connecting flights. Since it was very late, we assumed we would be put up for the night. No such luck. When we left the plane and came up the jet way we were met by one lone Delta employee who had no idea what was going on. After asking her what sort of arrangements were made since we were stuck at the airport till morning she replied "you are on your own" and disappeared through some doors marked "employees only" needless to say, we were stunned. We spent the night in the airport and managed to get on a flight in the morning. Like millionmiler here I tried calling and writing to Delta to voice my displeasure with my treatment. Customer service was rude and patronozing over the phone and my letter to the ceo and customer service has been ignored. This made me so mad, I told our travel department not to book any more flights on Delta (I can do this since I am a VP). I do not understand how a company can stay in business when they genuinely do not care for their customers.
Tami, in my experience, Delta would rather have you go away, be unhappy, and fly another airline than do anything to make up for or acknowledge their horrible customer service. No wonder you and many other people will never fly them again.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I landed in Atlanta half an hour after my connecting flight to San Diego departed because they overbooked the flight in Hartford and had to re-weigh the plane. After being told the next flight was at 8am (this was about 9pm in Atlanta) I was informed by a Delta service agent that there "ain't no more hotels in Atlanta" and I would need to spend the night in that miserable airport. I was standing in line with three women who were reduced to tears by Delta customer service. They need to change their slogan to "Delta. Cry, bitch. Cry."
Had a terrible experience with Delta about with luggage. On an international flight my luggage never arrived and Delta strung me along for the month I was travelling saying they were searching for it. They knew all along where my luggage was (remained in JFK the entire month), but it had been broken into and they couldn't put it back in transit. I caught them red-handed, had pictures and was well-documented that my luggage was identifiable to me and that it remained in their custody and control the entire time at JFK. My belongings were on their way to Arizona where they sell your possessions for pennies on the dollar. With a straight face after months of negotiation with Atlanta I was offered the Geneva Convention amount of $600 on a few thousand dollar loss from which they deducted the $200 or so that they provided to buy essentials for the month. Later, I was told by friends that DELTA stands for Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The first one is from Miss "O"
Spending a weekend in prison is the only thing that this experience at JFK airport compares to. Evil has a face here and her name is Eileen Faraon, Delta Supervisor at JFK. Eileen's function apparently was to make everyone's life miserable on the evening on 7/21/06. Our flight to SFO was supposed to leave at 5:30 pm. There was a storm in the New York area however and the flight was delayed until 7:30. Then it was delayed again to 8:30, then 9:45, then 10:20.... By that time we were told that the reason for this extended delay was not the weather, but the fact that Delta didn't have a crew in place for the flight. Yes I realize that crew members may have been delayed from previous flights due to weather, but according to another Delta attendant (Sophia) at Gate 21, their crew was "just not there". Keep in mind that JFK is a Delta hub, and they have flight crews on standby for occasions just like this. Did they bother to call anyone up? Of course not; they would have to pay more employees! Plus this delay now was extended to 10:30pm. After 4 hours the airline (according to their own rules) should accommodate stranded passengers in hotels for the night; according to the attendant present they were going to do just that. Then the Blair Witch arrived at Gate 21. Eileen was rude, incompetent, inconsiderate, and deliberately ignored everyone asking for an explanation or accommodations (and surprisingly they were very civil). She then turns to "the annoying masses" and in a very condescending way says "Are you guys just going to stand here, because we're not boarding yet". At that point the travelers (some of who had been stranded there since 8am) just lost it. Apparently she tried to pass this off as a weather delay so she wouldn't have to issue hotel vouchers.... screw the passengers who were about to faint, or already asleep on the floor by the gate. Her bottom line was the important thing here. When I asked her why the crew wasn't there, and why we have been subjected to a five plus hour delay without any explanation or accommodation, she huffed and puffed, and walked away. Ms. Faraon is a complete waste of space, and a testament to why the airline industry is going down the tubes. It's not like she'll lose her pension if she helped us out; her pension was history sometime ago.... Delta is just nickel and diming their passengers now. Adding insult to injury, Delta planes feature cramped seating, no food (except for a shortbread cookie for flights over 5 hours), and filthy leather seats; they're cutting back on their cleaning crews as well. Nothing like getting to your seat and finding a couple of slices of pepperoni ready for you to sit on. Please avoid Delta Airlines at all costs, and if you can help it, DO NOT fly through JFK (unless it's w/ Jet Blue... they have their own terminal at least)!
This one is from "James"
Bankrupt is a good description of Delta. Once a great airline it has been mismanaged into the ground and is now on life support. Do not expect any customer service. Expect to be charged enormous fees for changing flights. Expect unhappy employees. Expect lost baggage. Expect to be put on hold for very long periods by Customer Service and to speak with non-native English speaking people halfway around the world when you do get the privilege to talk to someone. Working while traveling around the country on a plane can be a very exhausting ordeal to begin with. Nobody needs the undo aggravation and difficulty I recently endured. From what I hear I am not alone. Avoid Delta like the plague.