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Delta / Airline Tickets / Unacceptable delays due to bad maintenance

1 United States

We have a very serious complaint about the operation of Delta Ailines and want this letter to be brought to the attention of management. We now also have firsthand experience of the widely reported poor maintenance of Delta aircraft, causing great discomfort and resulting in lies and bad behavior of ground personnel due to very annoyed clients/passengers on April 12&13, 2007 at JHB Airport. We were booked on DL 035 that was supposed to depaert a 18:45 on April 12, 2007. At approximately 15:30 we were booked in at the Delta counter and went through customs at about 17:00 and arrived at gate 7 at approx. 17:15. There were only a few seats, about 32, for all the passengers for a full plane available in the waiting area at gate 7. Ground personnel arrived at about 17:15 and stood around. Until about 18:30 the ground personnel did not communicate any delay or anything else to the passengers. When some passengers started getting annoyed one of the ground personnel finally informed the passengers, of whom most have to stand or sit on the ground, that there was a delay due to the engineers having to replace an important part in the aircraft (doing maintenance) but they expect to board in a few minutes. For the next almost two hours the boarding time was extended after phonecalls (or the impression of calls) was made with 10 min at every request of an annoyed passenger.

At about 20:15 the flight personnel started serving refreshments, promising everyone who asks that the engineers are almost finished and that we will board soon. At 21:30 the manager arrived for the first time and informed the passengers that it will still take sometime and request them to go to the Ekaya lounge to have super to the value of R25 at the airlines cost (this R25 could only buy a small plate of chips or a sandwich) Communication was very poor and almost non-existent and never was the passengers properly informed by a senior member as to the exact problem. Finally at approx. 24:10 the manager appears for only the second time and said the aircraft is ready but all have to board within 30 minutes. At 01:10 on April 13, 2007 all passengers were boarded and in their seats. At about 01:30 the passengers were requested to disembark due to two reasons; 1. The paper work to approve the repairs from Atlanta could not be obtained, and 2. The flight personnel can not proceed with the flight because they ran out of their scheduled time. We were told to collect all our luggage at arrival and that we will be booked into hotels at that counter. This action took until approx. 03:15 and my wife and I only arrived at the hotel and was booked in at about 04:15. We got up at about 09:00 and had breakfast at 09:30. During breakfast we were told that the buses will leave for the airport at 11:00 and that we will definitely board at 16:00 and we are scheduled to fly out at 17:00.

We spend the rest of that day, April 13, standing in queues in the lobby trying to book new seats. We finally arrived at gate 7 at about 15:15, again there was only a few seats available, even less than the previous day after the whole day's standing in queues. Once again there was no communication until the passengers started to really get annoyed, after 45 minutes passed the time that we were scheduled to board. The ground personnel again started to lie about boarding, like the previous day, to every passenger that asks what was going on and ignored requests that a senior manager or the captain come and explain what is going on. It really started getting nasty when the annoyed and tired passengers and personnel started shouting at each other, Delta airport security started shouting threads that unhappy passengers will be removed and unloaded from the aircraft. Due to this chaos some passenger demand to be unloaded, others signed a petition/demand that the passengers scheduled for Apr 12, be allowed to board the plane that arrived on 16:00 Apr 13, and that the passengers scheduled for that days flight wait for the broken plane to be repaired. This requests was refused by the manager when he finally arrived at about 18:10 to address the passengers, after numerous threads and shouting etc. the manager told the passengers that he will establish exactly how long it will take and when we will board and that he will report within 15 minutes. At about 18:25 the manager and flight captain arrived and the captain told us that the part that was fitted the previous night was not accepted by Atlanta and had to be replaced with one that arrived on that afternoon flight from Atlanta. He said that the engineers had done the job and were just finishing of and he stated categorically that the plane was ready and fit to fly and that boarding will start shortly. At about 18:35 we started to board and was seated at 18:55. Approximately 19:00 the captain addressed the passengers, once again apologizing and informing us that there is a 10 to 15 min delay due to the weather causing a back-up of flights. AT THIS STAGE MY WIFE'S NERVES CRACK AND SHE COULD TAKE NO MORE. She told me that if there was another delay she will not fly with that aircraft and she will get off. All this time the entrance door was not closed nor did we start taxiing, about 20 minutes later the captain again came on the air and told us that the back-up was now even longer and we are delayed another 40 minutes. Immediately my wife unbuckled and went to the stewardesses, she confronted them and ask them to look her in the eye and tell her that they are not still busy working on the aircraft. All she was told was "not to worry" she then requested to disembark and came and fetch her hand luggage, greeted me and went out. The attendant ladies then came and ask me to disembark, I asked them why, and they told me that my wife suggested that we both are disembarking. Knowing how tense all the passengers were, I did not want to create a further fuss or commotion and unbuckled, got up collect my handluggage and walked out. I WAS UNLAWFULLY REMOVED FROM THE AIRCRAFT, I NEVER REQUESTED TO DISEMBARK NOR DID I BEHAVE BADLY NOR DID I BROKE ANY FLIGHT RULES OR REGULATIONS. We went to arrivals and only received our luggage at about 21:00. We finally departed for the USA on April 16, 2007 on flight DL 035 after that flight was also delayed for more than two hours causing us to miss our connecting flight on Atlanta to San Diego, we had to wait for the rest of the day on the airport until 16:40 when we finally could get two seats. This resulted in great discomfort for the people that have to came and collect us at San Diego, wasting their whole day for we only arrived at the at about 18:30 and we should have landed at 10:00.

In terms of International Airtravel Law a full refund and other compensation have to be made if a delay of more than a certain time occurs, therefore before I revert to legal action, the media and the internet I want to know whether Delta is prepared to; 1. Re-schedule our return flight that is booked for August 3, 2007 to August 26, without any additional cost to us because we have to re-schedule all our appointments in the USA. And this is to be blamed on the poor condition of maintenance of Delta aircraft... 2. Reimburse us for all the delays that caused all the stress and re-sheduling of various appointments... 3. extend our insurance cover with "Worldwide Leisure & Business travel insurance" Policy number 333120 to August 28, 2007 at Delta's cost... 4. tell us how will Delta reimburse us for all the miscomfort, stress and unnecessary fights between the two of us, that was indirectly caused by the unfortunate happenings of April 12 to 17. And what is Delta prepared to do to keep us as future clients, seeing that we fly a lot.

It came to our knowledge that the flight DL 035 of April 13, was also delayed up to 04:44 on April 14, due to maintenance problems. We want to stress that this ad hoc maintenance of aircraft is totally unacceptable for the flying public and will ultimately result in something bad that might happen in future.

A similar letter to this message was faxed to Delta in SA, JHB airport on April 14 but we received no reply up to now. We urgently await a clear reply in writing from Delta management addressing all the issues raised. Our current Postal Address is; 28615 N - 26th Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85085 and my e-mail address is as stated above,

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