Delta Airlines Informative - PLEASE READ BEFORE TAKING YOUR NEXT DELTA FLIGHT
ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- Here is the letter I sent to Delta Airlines...good luck getting someone to respond if something similar happens to you.
PLEASE READ BEFORE TAKING YOUR NEXT DELTA FLIGHT…DON'T THINK IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU? A COLLEGUE IN THE SAME OFFICE AS ME HAPPENED TO SELECT DELTA AIRLINES FOR A SIMILAR TRIP AND THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TO HER. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
We recently had a very frustrating and disappointing experience with your airline that we feel should addressed by your management team and compensation should be issued for the inconvenience caused by Delta Airlines and your employees.
On January 19, 2006, we made travel arrangements for a dream vacation to Italy from San Diego (Delta Airlines Record Locator: PIP5ZE). We were traveling to Rome to run in a marathon and also enjoy vacation time in Rome, Florence and Venice. We planned early and even made are reservations two months in advance. As you can imagine this is a costly and long flight and an important element to this trip was being able to obtain appropriate seats for this type of travel. We selected our seat assignments when we purchased the tickets and everything appeared to process correctly.
A few weeks before the trip we decided to re-verify the details of our travel plans to ensure there would be no unnecessary surprises during our trip. The only issue we found was with your airline. When I looked at the Delta website I noticed we no longer had seat assignments. I immediately called your customer service department and was told not to worry that it is your policy to not assign seats on international flights. I found this questionable since we also did not have seat assignments for the domestic segment of our trip. In addition, we had also purchased tickets for four additional people traveling with our group from another city and they were assigned seats on each segment of the trip. When I questioned your representative I was told that they could not help me since it was company policy and that we would need to arrive early at the airport to obtain our seats. I called a few days before the trip to verify this again and was told a very similar story.
We arrived at the airport well in advance of our flight’s scheduled departure but discovered that your agent in San Diego could only help with our seat assignments for the San Diego to Atlanta flight. It appeared that your customer service agent had provided misinformation and as a result the only seats available were the extremely uncomfortable middle seats and we could not even sit together. Although we had not started the trip off pleasantly there was still hope because we would arrive in Atlanta early for our flight to Rome and we would have plenty of time to take care of obtaining appropriate seating for the international segment of the trip. When we arrived in Atlanta we were directed to one of your customer service stations and after waiting in a long line for about 20 minutes we were referred to the customer service station in the international terminal. Once there we waited in an even longer line only to be told (with tremendous attitude) that they did not handle this type of request and that we needed to quickly go to the gate because they had already started assigning seats.
Naturally we rushed to the gate only to find that no agent was there yet so we waited and waited. Since we were under the impression that Delta’s policy was to not issue seat assignments on international flights in advance we were not concerned since there was only one other person in front of us. You can imagine our surprise and dismay when the agent started processing the seat requests and we were told the only seats left were the uncomfortable middle seats. This was unacceptable to us. If we had made the travel arrangements at the last minute we would gladly had taken what was available. We planned this trip with your airlines well in advance and at the time of purchase we were assigned appropriate seats for this type of travel. We even followed the seating assignment process as directed by your Delta Airline employees.
We requested to speak to a manager at the gate and we were told there was no manager available to talk to us and besides there was nothing that could be done. We were then handed a Delta Airlines survey and told if we had something to say we needed to fill it out and mail it in to the service department. If we could have found just one employee in San Diego or Atlanta that cared enough about us and our situation to simply listen to our story we would not be writing this letter today. Honestly, there was not one Delta employee that day that showed any empathy or concern towards our travel plight.
I had to use my cell phone to call your customer service center and speak to a manager over the phone (which was about a 30 minute call so I can’t even imagine how much that will cost). He did take the time to listen to my issue and was at least honest enough to admit there was a processing error in our travel record that caused the original seat assignments to fail. It was something about a plane type change and our seat assignments should have been worked manually but no employee got to the work so it never happened (I’m sure you have notes in your customer records and you can verify all of the details in this letter). As a result, the plane was over sold and we fell into a bucket where we could not be assigned a seat because the seat assignments are cut-off at a certain occupancy level and the remaining seats are used by the agents for some type of flexibility during check-in. Again, I would assume this makes sense to Delta Airlines since I was told that was your policy by one of your managers.
I can assure you this was not from lack of planning on our part and I am now pretty sure it is definitely NOT your policy to NOT issue seat assignments on international flights. Your employees directly lied to us about your policy instead of addressing the actual issue. This error was a result of poor processes and lack of employee ownership within Delta Airlines and one where we, the customers, should not have been penalized.
We paid you money well in advance to handle our reservations as agreed when the tickets were purchased. Moreover, we had a contract with Delta Airlines. You had an obligation to reserve and hold our seats, even if there was a process failure on the part of Delta Airlines. You failed to deliver on your end of the agreement. Therefore, as compensation for an extremely frustrating experience, we would like you to provide us with two international tickets to any location we choose to be used in the next year. Nothing can compensate us for turning our once in a lifetime dream vacation into a vacation nightmare, but we want to ensure that you think seriously about your commitments to customers. Treating them badly, directly lying to them and poor internal processes will only bring you bad publicity and loss of business. I realize you are probably heading towards closing the doors forever but customer service is the basic for any business and it is a critical element to remaining in business. I used to fly Delta Airlines at least twice a month from Dallas to Atlanta for years in the mid 90’s. I honestly thought there was not a better airline out there anywhere. What happened?