Delta Airlines Complaint - Worst Airline Experience Ever
AUSTIN, TENNESSEE -- I have been traveling for over 20 years and this was my worst trip ever.
Using delta.com, I bought a round-trip ticket from Austin, Texas to Nice, France departing March 8th, returning March 12th. I was to attend a conference in Monaco that began on the 10th. Our company was to make a presentation on the morning of the 11th.
Frankly, the problems began as soon as I arrived at the Austin airport to check in about two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. There had been a series of winter storms on the east coast that had caused delays and cancellations of many Delta flights. I fully understand that weather delays are out of the control of the airline but the manner that the Austin staff handled the situation left something to be desired.
There were at least 200 customers, with baggage, lined up at the check-in counters with a total of three Delta agents on duty. The self-service kiosks were not functioning so each passenger had to be checked-in one at a time.
Several times during the wait Delta agents would call for passengers from a particular flight to get out of line and form a special line as that flight was going to depart soon. Often they would not finish with that group before calling another flight number and creating another line. Many passengers missed flights although they were at the airport long before the flights departed.
There was only one agent looking after international bookings and I waited over 90 minutes before checking in. At check-in I was advised that my flight was delayed 45 minutes and I went through security for the first time.
When I arrived at the gate there no aircraft and there were no agents to be seen. The original departure time was displayed on the gate kiosk.
Over the next several hours the flight was delayed by another 30-45 minutes. During this period no announcements were made by the Delta agents.
The first communication was that the flight had been canceled and we were told to go back through security to the ticket counter to get re-booked. The gate agents refused to answer any questions at this time. I along with the other 90 passengers returned to the ticket counter chaos. Once in line we were advised that the flight had not been canceled and we were told to hurry to the gate. I was in the process of taking off my shoes for the security screening when a Delta agent told everybody the flight had been canceled and we needed to get back in the check-in line.
Once in line we were advised that the flight had not been canceled and we were told to hurry to the gate.
I went through security again and proceed to the gate.
At this point I waited at the gate to speak to an agent, I explained that I had a flight to Nice (DL83) scheduled for 6:55pm and wanted to know if I could expect to make that flight as I did not want to travel to JFK and get stranded. The agent (Moses) advised me that all the flights were delayed and if my current flight was to leave when they thought it would I could make the connection. He also booked me on an Air France flight (Delta code share) to Paris, Charles de Gaulle International Airport, but he advised me that he could not confirm my connection back to Nice the following day. I was provided with an “interrupted travel” itinerary showing confirmed seats on both DL 83 and DL 8603 (operated by AF 009). I was told that I would have to check-in again when I arrived at JFK for the Paris flight.
At some point the flight was canceled again, I went out through security to the check-in counter to be told flight had not been canceled and we were told to return to the gate.
My 11:10AM flight departed at 5:24 PM arriving at 6:58PM. There was no gate available for our flight and it was over an hour later before I was off the aircraft and into the terminal.
By this point my original flight to Nice had left but at that point I did not care very much as I believed had a seat on the flight to Paris.
I was wrong.
When I went to the Delta Customer Service Counter at 8:20 PM to check-in they had a problem with my reservation. The agent said that I had a seat on the flight but he could not get it to print my boarding card. He then called over a Lead Agent (Robert A) who worked on my reservation, assisted by a Customer Services Supervisor (Vas) and telephone support from the “International Desk” for over an hour.
The problem was that the system had attempted to book me a flight from Paris to Nice but for some reason it could not confirm the seat, that issue also prevented the agents from printing my boarding card. When they tried to re-book me the system “lost” my reservation and gave up my seat on the Paris flight as it was wait-listed.
The Delta Agents at JFK, in particular Robert A, were fantastic and found me a local hotel room and gave me meal vouchers. Other customers with international connections who had flown with me from Austin were not offered any assistance in getting hotels. They acknowledged the fact that I was not going to be able to make the flight because of Delta Airlines was unable to print my boarding documents, even thought I had a confirmed seat on that flight, up to the point the system lost the seat. The Air France flight did not depart until 12:45AM four hours after I tried to check in.
As I said earlier, I recognize that weather delays are out of the control of the airline but everything that happens from this point on in my story is completely the fault of Delta Airlines.
I was booked on a Delta flight to Gatwick the following day with a connection on British Airways to Nice.
The next day, March 9th, I went to the airport early to check-in. After waiting for 55 minutes, I checked-in. I asked where my bags were and was told that due to the many delays from yesterday, they were doing their best to route bags correctly but most likely my luggage was not going to be on the flight with me.
I then boarded DL1 bound for Gatwick.
I never made it to Gatwick as the flight was diverted to Brussels due to weather issues in the UK.
As soon as we were on the ground in Brussels I called the local Delta Ticket Office to find out what my options were. I was advised to get off the aircraft as there was a connection to Nice at 12:45PM. I was also told that I should not proceed to Gatwick as due to the many delays there were no flights to anywhere on the European continent or back to the US for several days.
I asked one of the flight attendants if I would be permitted to disembark the aircraft, she replied that she would check and get back to me. I never saw her again. I asked another flight attendant who referred me to yet another flight attendant who said that we would not be allowed to get off the aircraft as we would not be able to “clear immigration”. A cabin announcement was made to this effect.
After waiting on the ground for two hours, many other passengers also indicated they wanted go get off the aircraft. Many, like me, had final destinations in Europe, including a party of 8-10 first-class passengers who also wanted to get to Nice.
I had the opportunity to speak with a local Delta employee and asked her why we could not get off the aircraft.
She had a very different story. The issue was not immigration, but baggage. She was unaware that some passengers wanted to get off and offered a solution: If you did not have checked baggage you could get off the aircraft. She took the record locator information and baggage tag numbers for several passengers and went to the terminal to confirm that we did not have bags on the aircraft.
When she returned, I was advised that my checked bag was at Air France, Charles de Gaulle International Airport having arrived that morning on AF009. My bag made the flight I was not able to board.
Several other passengers and I were taken by bus to the terminal. By the time I had gone through immigration, found my way to the Delta ticket counter and waited to be re-booked my flight to Nice had left. This was a full four hours after I first spoke to the Delta staff and asked to be let off the aircraft.
The recovery plan was to fly to Rome with connection back to Nice. The first segment was flown on an Alitalia Airlines code share operated by Brussels Airlines. The Rome-Nice flight was operated by Alitalia.
I had a pleasant flight but we were delayed in landing and I only had about twenty minutes to make the Nice flight upon arrival in Rome. Accompanied by another Delta passenger from DL1, I ran to the gate and arrived six minutes before the scheduled departure.
I have been travelling on business for over 25 years, including many trips on third-world airlines and what happened next is something I will always remember.
The gate agent told us to “run-run” to the aircraft. So we did. The aircraft was on an old-style gate that had several swing-away jet-ways. When we reached the aircraft they were just beginning to close the door. I called to an Alitalia employee who was standing at the jet-way controls. He said nothing and just looked at us. The flight was operated by a DC9 and the pilots were visible through the cockpit windows. I managed to get the Captains attention and he opened the direct vision window and asked what was going on.
I said we wanted to get on the aircraft and he told the Alitalia employee to open the door.
The Alitalia employee then said, in English, that we need to get off the moving portion of the jet-way. We backed up and he then pulled the jet-way off the aircraft and advised the ground crew to push the aircraft back. The aircraft entry door was fully open.
The Captain just shrugged his shoulders as the aircraft was pushed back from the gate leaving 3 passengers on the bridge. At this point the gate agent who had taken our boarding cards and told us to run appeared on the jet-way and got into a heated argument with the jet-bridge operator. She then asked us to follow her to the ticket counter.
At the ticket counter my traveling companion tried to explain what had happened. We were asked to wait until another employee arrived. Soon a woman approached and introduced herself as the “Alitalia Manager”. We explained what occurred at the gate, and after she spoke to the gate agent, she turned to me and said in perfect English, in no uncertain terms, that in her opinion we were not Alitalia passengers, we had never boarder an Alitalia flight and regardless of what may, or may not, have happened at the gate we were wasting her time and if we did not leave she was going to call the police. Without another word, she turned and walked away as fast as one can in a tight skirt and stiletto heels.
I went to the Delta Airlines counter but it was closed. I called the local number and spoke to a pleasant lady who said she could not help me but she did connect me to the Delta Reservations office in London where I was connected to Mr. Miguel Garcia.
I explained my situation to Mr. Garcia and his response was mind-boggling. He absolutely refused to assist me with onward airline bookings, hotel reservations or alternate travel arrangements. He said that from the moment I got off the aircraft in Brussels; I was no longer a Delta Airlines passenger. He spent considerable time quoting me IATA policy and regulations and concluded that I needed to be “more assertive” with the Alitalia staff.
At this point, once again accompanied by another Delta passenger from DL1, I walked to the train station and bought a very expensive overnight train ticket to Nice.
While waiting for the train, I placed a long-distance call to Delta Baggage Services in Atlanta. I waited 47 minutes before I was able to speak to an agent.
After explaining my situation, the first words the agent, Barbara, said was: “I can’t help you”. She said I needed to open a claim at the Delta baggage office when I reached my final destination.
After some explanations that I was never going to get to my final destination, the Nice Airport, as I was about to board a train, and I knew exactly where my luggage was, she very reluctantly agreed to send a message to Air France CDG requesting my bag be sent on to Delta in Nice.
I then boarded the train and had a pleasant trip to Nice. For reasons that were never quite made clear to me the train stopped at the French boarder and we were put on a local commuter train. Fortunately, this train stopped in Monte Carlo and I got off, hailed a taxi and walked into my hotel at 9:15 am, basically three days after I walked into the Austin Airport to board my original flight.
I had a shower, put on some clean clothes I had and much to the surprise of my colleagues, I made it to the conference in time for the presentation.
Later that day I called Delta in Nice to try to find my luggage. I spoke to Olivier Tisseraud who took my information and said he would call me right back. True to his word, less than an hour later, Olivier called to say my bag had arrived earlier in the day from CDG and as he understood I had some difficulties in getting to Monaco he had put my bag on the helicopter shuttle and it would be arriving soon at my hotel. It did. Whatever Barbara had done had worked, but if I had not been “assertive” with her she would not have done anything and my bag might still be in Paris today.
During this entire ordeal I maintained my composure and above all sense of humor. At no time did I get angry or raise my voice as I know it does not do anybody any good.
I did not begin to get irritated until I returned to the US and contacted Delta Customer Care.
I was given a telephone number for Customer Care at the airport. When I called I was told the very best Delta could offer me was a $200 travel voucher. Ironically I was waiting at a gate at the time and passengers were being offered a $400 voucher if they would wait 6 hours for a later flight that day.
I asked or be connected to a manager or supervisor but was told that was impossible. I asked for contact name of the overall person at Delta responsible for Customer Care. I was informed that person is Ms. Daiquiri Gleaves. I then tried to contact Ms. Gleaves but it appears she does not have a direct line, voice mail or any method of direct communication with the customers she is responsible to care for. I was however connected to a person who identified herself to me as Susan Browne, who said she worked in the Executive Offices.
After I told her my story, I requested compensation for the out of pocket expenses I incurred as a result of Delta Airlines service failures. Ms. Browne indicated she would be able to “meet you half way” (her exact words) with respect to the expenses, providing I had receipts. She also offered me 20,000 SkyMiles as a goodwill gesture.
She provided me with her fax number and I asked for the correct spelling of her name and she replied “Browne with and E”. I then faxed the receipts to her.
Later that day; I received a form-letter e-mail from “Brenda Brown”, Manager Customer Care. It stated that I had had problems with Delta Connection partner, Comair and offered me a $200 travel voucher or a credit of 20,000 SkyMiles.
I then called Delta again and asked to speak to “Susan Browne” but was told that no person of that name worked there. I then asked for “Brenda Brown” and was connected to the same individual I had spoken to earlier that day,
Is it Delta policy for managers in the Customer Care department to use false names when communicating with customers?
When I asked Ms Brown why she had rescinded her original offer with respect to reimbursement of my expenses she denied ever making the offer. When I challenged her on that statement, asking why she requested me to send in the receipts, she became defensive and belligerent.
Due to Delta Airlines spectacular failures to deliver the transportation services I paid for, I incurred over $1000 in out of pocket expenses.
Over and over I was told that Delta’s only responsibility is to “rebook you on the first available flight to your destination”.
Not only did Delta not get me to my final destination, at some point in the process Delta Airlines stopped trying.
For this I am offered a $200 voucher?
The attitude of the Delta "Customer Care" department shows a lot about the overall value the company gives to it's customers: NONE!