Monday, April 23, 2007

When Delta sucks, they REALLY suck

I've been a frequent flyer with Delta airlines for quite a few years now, and have maintained Platinum status with them for the last couple of years. When you travel a lot, it pays to try and keep the majority of your frequent flyer benefits with a single carrier, and you really hate it when you have to take a long trip and can't get your preferred airline because all those miles are going into the wrong bucket. So I was pretty happy when our corporate travel folks put me on Delta for my trip to South America.

So yesterday (Sunday) I had a flight at 18:45 to JFK, then a 21:05 flight from there to Sao Paulo. Due to air traffic congestion in the NYC area, ATC put a ground stop on flights departing for JFK. This meant we had to sit on the tarmac in Richmond for over an hour before we were released.

We actually got to the gate at JFK at 21:00, and I thought I might still make my flight to Brazil. It's common practice for an airline to hold departure of a flight when they know passengers are arriving on delayed flights, so I was pretty sure I'd make it. Adding to my optimism as I entered the terminal building was the fact that my departure gate was only two gates down from my arrival gate. Sweet.

Alas, it was not to be. As I trotted up to the gate, I saw the plane was still there and hadn't started pushing back yet, but the boarding door was closed. The gate agents said, without apology, that I'd have to go to the service desk for reticketing. The time was 21:10...I'd missed departure by 5 minutes and Delta wouldn't hold the plane.

At the service desk I was greeted by intruded upon an agent by the name of Kris. Kris seemed bewildered by my presence there, since according to him the area was closed. I advised him that I was directed his way by his colleagues at gate 23 and that I was in need of reticketing. Reluctantly, Kris pulled up my information and reticketed me.

My original flight plans had me arriving in Sao Paulo at around 08:00 local time Monday morning. My new arrangements have me arriving at 06:05 Tuesday morning...nearly 24 hours later than planned! My buddy Kris made no effort whatsoever to even try to put me on another carrier that might have gotten me into Sao Paulo even a little bit earlier.

I can only wonder about the fate of my luggage.

Update:
As I was writing this, I received the following e-mail response to the flame I left Delta on their web site last night:
We regret you were inconvenienced because of a missed flight connection.
Delaying a flight for a confirmed passenger is a difficult situation for the airlines. In the past, our policy was to wait for passengers whenever possible even at the expense of on-time performance. Now, our customers tell us that being on time is a high priority, and we have changed our practices to better meet these expectations.

Once our gate personnel relinquish control of the airplane to the crew and operations team, it is considered dispatched even though the aircraft may still be at the gate. To stop our processes after the crew is given a takeoff priority may result in a lengthy delay. We are trying to achieve a balance between reliability and good customer service.
Yes...being on time is a high priority. When flying, I regard an on time departure as anything within 20 minutes or so of planned departure. Arriving at my destination 24 hours late does not constitute being on time.

Update:
As I fully expected, my luggage didn't make it. When I arrived Tuesday morning, the baggage service guys told me that it was still at JFK (WTF??) and would be put on that night's flight for arrival Wednesday morning. Nice. As it turned out, the bag had been placed on Monday night's flight out of JFK, and was delivered to my hotel Tuesday afternoon. Still, I had to go out and buy clothes and toiletries Tuesday morning, so Delta will be getting a bill from me.

9 comments:

Guy Berger said...

heh heh - Delta getting a bill from you? Good luck!



I’m in the Ramada hotel, where there are lines of about 70 people all from Delta delays, and only 1.5 people on the reception desk. This is after dear Delta had only 2 people to serve a line of 35 people in an obscure unsignposted part of JFK Delta terminal where it took 90 minutes to reach the front and ask what to do, seeing as THEIR delay lost me (and everyone else there) an international connection.

You then wait in another unsignposted section for the Ramada bus - for 45 minutes, where - after pressure Delta have agreed to put you up for the night.

Then, the biggest joke of all - you get a voucher for dinner. It’s worth $7 - while the dinner is $25 for the buffet.

I definitely will not do Delta again. Can;t believe any Americans would fly this rubbish.

Eric said...

On the other hand, when they're good, they're great.

Being a frequent flyer with any airline is like being the battered spouse.

aquabot said...

I have two travel vouchers that I have tried to use for the past year and every time I have tried to use them I am given a price that is higher than any other airlines -- even if I used the vouchers I am paying more than I would if I just flew on another airline. It seemed to me as soon as it was known that I had the vouchers the price was higher, so now that the vouchers are expired I can tell you that I will not be flying with Delta .

It seems to me that if they continue to run their airlines this way their costumers will be unhappy enough to fly with someone else. I was not able to go to see my friend who has cancer.

Anonymous said...

We've just tried Delta twice, but they were terrible both times.

This time Delta seems to have lost the one bag we checked, a bag with my 4 year old's Christmas presents from her grandparents inside. Nothing of value, unless you are that 4-year-old. Delta said it would arrive by noon yesterday. Now they don't know where it is, maybe Orlando. (We ourselves were never in Orlando.) When I ask why they don't know, they say "sometimes they don't scan them in." Should they find it, the poor bag may tour the country, as Delta apparently has no procedure for eventually prioritizing a bag--when exactly would this bag become important enough to just ship it to us? Um, apparently, never. For that matter, when would we as customers become important enough for them to contact us to explain why the bag is late? Also never--terrible communication. What should I tell a 4-year-old? Guess we should have shipped the toys UPS rather than checking them.

Last time we flew Delta, they could not print a boarding pass for my husband--they could see that he paid, but creating a boarding pass was not possible. He stood at the desk for 45 minutes while the clerk explained that she could not print a boarding pass even though she could see that he bought a ticket, and he almost missed the flight--the kid and I had gone ahead so as not to miss the flight with him. I forgave that--everyone makes mistakes--but it is now clear to me that Delta is really messed up. Failures on two of two tries. And we are used to air travel and making allowances.

We fly several times a year--not weekly, but at least 4-5 times as a family--so about 15 tickets a year--and we will never fly Delta again.

magi said...

I hope you don't mind if I chime in here, but... Delta sucks. One one trip from Columbia SC to Punta Cana DR, via Atlanta (of course), we experienced 4 broken airplanes, 5 gate changes, zero on-time departures, destroyed luggage.. and the worst part was their refusal to provide, or allow me to go get, a wheelchair for my wife! During one of the "this-plane-is-broke-so-get-off-now" episodes, a stew told me to "hurry up" as I was physically carrying my wife off the airplane. Yes, I am pissed.

My whole story is at http://www.markgillis.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=11;t=23;st=0;&#entry30

Thanks.

PyrosGuy said...

Yes, magi, Delta Sucks, but they are clearly improving:

8:30 AM Leave for airport.

10:00 AM Syracuse, NY. Cincinnati flight oversold; I'm bumped. Bag goes ahead. Wait-listed for flight to Atlanta.

1:00 PM Atlanta flight oversold. Two more passengers bumped. I'm not alone.

1:30 PM Rebooked out of Rochester, NY. Delta pays 253 bucks for a 100-mile taxi ride.

6:00 PM In Rochester. Flight to Atlanta departs late.

7:50 PM Pilot flies fast, arrives early, but gains are are squandered because no one at the gate knows how to operate the Jetway! A brave soul volunteers, but is working out of her depth. For 15 minutes a giant thrashing caterpillar attempts to mate with the plane, which provides much-needed comic relief for the passengers trapped on board, but no dice - it can't connect. So near, and yet so far.

8:10 PM Redcoats arrive. Caterpillar mates. Looking good!

9:30 PM Dallas flight canceled at last minute due to hardware failure. Looking grim again.

9:35 PM A substitute plane is found, and there is much rejoicing. BUT, it cannot be brought to departure gate. All passengers must walk 1/2 mile to terminal T.

10:00 PM Boarding starts; confusion reigns. Oops! All seats must be reassigned, since this is a different aircraft.

10:35 PM Pushing back from gate, shear pin on the tug breaks.
Wait while it is fixed.

11:35 PM Arrive in Dallas. Reunited with bag.

12:35 AM Reach hotel. Much rejoicing.


DELTA's net score:
Points
======
PENALTY:
Minus 1200 for 3 bumped passengers
Minus 253 for 1 100-mile taxi ride
Minus 10 for 1 broken tug
Minus 20 for 2 late departures
Minus 300 for 1 broken aiplane
Minus 150 for 1 1/2 mile walk for 150 people
Minus 170 for 17 hours on the road

BONUS:
Plus 10 for 1 early arrival
Plus 150 for 15 minutes humorous thrashing caterpillar-like Jetway
======
Minus 1943 TOTAL

... GAME OVER ...

And just wait until they merge with NorthWest!

Mike said...

I've added a link to this site from my new blog:

http://dlsucks.blogspot.com/

Please check it out and consider adding a link back in return.

Thank you!

Mike

chengrob said...

I am so mad. I will never fly Delta again, and I had flown close to a 1/2 million miles with them. Here is my story.

http://chengrob.com/blog/2009/09/delta-airlines-never-more/

chengrob said...

Now Delta tells me that they will not resolve my problem and that we are not customers but guests on their airplanes.

http://chengrob.com/blog/2010/07/are-we-customers-or-guests-in-deltas-home/