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Delta Airlines / Unethical business practices!

1 AZ, United States Review updated:

I haven't flown Delta years and now I regret coming back to Delta. My flight to Palm Beach, Florida from Phoenix, AZ was delayed 5 hours in Atlanta because the planes landing gear 'locked' light was not functional. This was flight #1412 on Tue Jan 29. They attempted to repair it and have us in the air in no time, which turned into a full blown repair, which turned into unrepairable and put us on the next flight out. I lost 5 hours, but these things happen. A week later, I arrive at PBI airport, board my flight back to Phoenix. This is flight 1578 on Mon Feb 4 scheduled to leave at 7pm. They hold the plane on the ground for 40 minutes, filling up the empty seats with passengers from a canceled flight to LGA. Now, my connecting flight to Phoenix is at 9:30, flight 1605 Gate E06, and we land and I rush off the plane and race to my gate only to discover the gate has been changed and is now A19, so I rush to that gate, I see the plane is still on the ground, I present my ticket, I am out of breath, my arms and legs hurt from hauling my luggage for a half mile across the atlanta airport and they tell me the plane door is closed and I cannot board. In the mean time, the new yorkers, who my plane was delayed for, have a flight leaving at 9:40 at the gate right next door to where we arrived. They all make their connection. I was told to go to the ticket counter to get a ticket to the next flight out of Phoenix, which I am told is 12 hours away.

This is unacceptable as I have a dentist appointment that I will be billed for if I do not appear. I am given a discount coupon to stay at a local hotel. I am not prepared to stay over night. I am a businessman and I have work to get done and now Delta is stealing 12 more hours of my time on top of the five they already took without my permission.

Delta could have held the connecting flight to phoenix for five minutes, just as they held my initial flight for the passengers of the canceled Delta flight to LGA. Clearly this is discrimination. Those on the canceled flight were given preferential treatment and caused an artificial delay created by Delta which has turned my schedule upside down and is costing me more than you can imagine! The lady 'Nicole', a large black woman, started to tell me my flight was delayed due to weather. I explained to her the flight was held so Delta could fill all the seats with passengers from the canceled flight and the weather was fine. She says Delta never holds flights for other passengers. I explained I was on the plane and I saw beautiful weather and saw passengers board after the doors of the plane were scheduled to be closed for a full forty minutes. She continued to provoke me and suggest I write in if I don't like and insisted weather was the cause of the delay. I asked for a supervisor immediately. Eventually I was given a complimentary hotel room, but I am still not in Phoenix. I can understand a delay of a couple hours once in a while, but this has effected me on each leg of my trip coming and going. How will Delta reimburse me for the 17 hours I have now wasted because Delta did not keep their commitment with me? I am requesting reimbursement also for my missed appointment, which was scheduled a FULL DAY after I was to arrive in Phoenix.

They replied:

Thank you for your e-mail describing the problem you experienced. Your time is valuable, and operating on schedule is equally important to us. However, in the process of operating scheduled service over many different routes each day, occasional mechanical malfunctions, adverse weather, and other interruptions to routine performance plans are unavoidable. These are situations faced by all airlines and no air carrier can guarantee that all flights will depart or arrive on schedule. Nevertheless, we are sorry you were inconvenienced.

We regret we did not meet your expectations on this occasion, and I can understand your frustration and disappointment. However, we hope you will understand that we do not reimburse the expenses you requested and must respectfully decline your request.

Please accept our apology for the unfavorable impression you received in this instance. We appreciate your selection of Delta and will always consider it a privilege to be of service.
Daniel Tancak
Online Customer Support Desk

Then I replied:

I find your response unacceptable and will be sharing this story with the listeners of my radio talk show each weekday throughout the rest of this month. I'll be sure that all of our nationwide and worldwide listeners know that it took Delta 33 hours to get me from Phoenix to Palm Beach and did not offer an explanation as to why new york passengers were given preferential treatment that caused an excessive delay.

Please cancel my Sky Miles account immediately, as I will never fly Delta again. I am also going to share this story everyday this month on my nationwide radio broadcast so my listeners can decide for themselves if they want to risk repeating my experience should they choose to fly Delta.

Please forward this message on to your superiors and I will forward it on to your PR company personally.

Delta Air Lines Corporate Communications
Richard H Anderson, Chief Executive Officer
Kent Landers
Director External Communications (US)
Betsy Talton
General Manager National Media Relations
Anthony Black
Senior Manager Regional Media Relations
Susan Chana Elliott
Senior Manager Regional Media Relations
Katie Connell
Senior Manager Lifestyle/Leisure Media Relations

And they replied:

We are very concerned about the unfortunate situation you described. Flying with Delta should be enjoyable, and I am sorry for any role we may have played which caused your travel experience to be otherwise. The inconvenience you experienced does not support our goal of providing a high level of service and value to our customers. Customer service is very important to us, and we are working hard to transform our company.

According to the rules of the program, the credit earned in your SkyMiles account will remain active until December 31, 2010. SkyMiles will not expire as long as there is qualifying activity at least once every two years. Within two years of inactivity with a zero balance the account will be closed.

We value the relationship you have with Delta Air Lines and would be delighted to have another chance to restore your trust and confidence in our service.
Loren Byers
Online Customer Support Desk

And I replied:

Please be aware that I am reporting this abusive cancellation and delay of planes to the FAA. The four flights I booked were all about half-full.

But after Delta manipulated the planes, 3 of the 4 planes were packed without a single seat. The financial reasons for this are obvious, but on the 3rd flight, it was reported in the Delta computer system that the flight was delayed due to weather, rather then the truth that the flight was delayed to make room for other passengers. That delayed the plane by more than 40 minutes and resulted with me arguing with a Delta Customer Service rep named Nicole who insisted the flight was delayed due to weather because that’s what her computer said. When I corrected her why the flight was delayed, her response was "I'm just telling you what my computer says." And my response was "I'm just telling you the real reason" and her response was "Well, that's my computer says" and my response was "well, I was actually on the plane and I know exactly why it was delayed" at which point another customer service rep offered to step in and Nicole said to her, "Oh no, I got this one." As if I was challenging her to fisticuffs! I asked to speak with a supervisor before the computer system mis-information was recognized.

Clearly the FAA has rules about this and I am going to do my best to ensure these questionable business practices of canceling and delaying fights by 12 hours just to fill a plane to capacity at the inconvenience of the passengers are brought to the attention of the FAA and my entire listening audience. I have a canceled dental appointment and an extra day of covered parking and a full day of lost work, all resulting from this artificially created delay practiced by your company to fill planes to capacity. I know Delta will never do this to me again, because I will never fly Delta again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I look forward to your next boilerplate reply.

Final response from Delta:

Thank you for your most recent e-mail. We regret your continued displeasure with our previous "boilerplate" responses.
However, we appreciate your feedback and encourage you to forward any additional comments to our corporate offices at the address below:

Delta Air Lines
Customer Care
P.O. Box 20980
Atlanta, GA [protected]
Thank you for the opportunity to give this matter our final review. Any additional correspondence via e-mail will be kept on file.

Joy Blessing
Online Customer Support Desk

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  • Ti
      13th of Feb, 2008
    0 Votes

    Dude, things happen to airplanes that may cause delays. I think it is better for a flight to be delayed than to takeoff with something that can cause a problem in the air. There are a lot more resources available to the flight crew on the ground than there are in the air, so I say, take the time you need to fix the problems so that my flight will be safe and that there will be no problems.

    Also, flights are just not delayed due to weather at the departure airport, but the weather at the arrival airport or the weather encountered in flight can all cause delays. I've been on flights were the weather was beautiful where we departed and where we arrived, but the weather encountered enroute was terrible. There were thunderstorms along the route, which ended up causing departure delays. So for all you know, the weather could have been the cause of the delay.

    Airlines establish their own policies about when to shut the gate door to not allow anymore passengers on the flight. If you don't make it on time, then just accept it and just take the next available flight. As for the passengers allowed to board after the scheduled departure time, if the plane is delayed due to weather or whatever reason, and the gate is not needed right away, then Delta should be able to accommodate those passengers. The airline is in it to make money, and therefore a full plane makes more money than a half-full one. Why send out two planes, each half-full, to the same place and pay all the costs twice -- fuel, operating costs, flight crew, flight attendants, landing fees, etc?

    The purpose of the FAA is to ensure safety and promote the aviation industry. While they do make the rules and regulations that everyone in the aviation industry must abide by, it is basically up the the individual airlines to make their own policies concerning gate procedures, delays, and the number of airplanes/routes to use.

    Like I said, there are many things that may cause a flight to be delayed or even canceled. It is a risk you are taking every time you board a flight. Not everything is going to work out for you every time in your life. Just accept it and get over it.

    Delta seems like they handled your situation perfectly. There was nothing the lady at the gate at a different airport knew about your flight other than what she was told. You could have handled yourself in a much better manner than get in an arguing war. Also, companies don't respond well to threats, and sometimes it is better to lose that customer than to have to worry about possibly dealing with them in the future.

    It seems that Delta would probably be happier not having you as a customer if all you are going to do is complain.

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