Delta Airlines Complaint - "Held Hostage" by Delta for 16 Days in Johannesburg!
Dear Sir / Madam,
One can understand that it sometimes can be difficult to get a seat on a plane, more so during peak travelling times, flying on a Delta Buddy Pass, on a standby basis….
That being said and done, our first attempt to get on our Delta flight (Flight DL201) from Johannesburg back to Atlanta was on December 10, 2010.
Needless to say, after having checked in at 15H45, as was required, we were told to return to the particular check-in counter at 19H00. That we did, and stood around until 20H20, when the flight departed. At no stage were we advised that no seats were available….. The people working for Delta at the check-in counters simply closed up their workstations, and disappeared…. No word of what the situation entailed – i.e. no seats available, the plane has departed, or to come back and try again the following night! Nada, Zilch!
The above events were repeated for the following 6 nights, no seats, no explanation, nothing….. That was when I felt I had come to the point that I felt I was owed an explanation by the people in the Delta Ticketing booth….
At all times I remained polite (in fact, my wife who is a multi-media producer, has all on video), and during my conversation with the staff in the ticketing booth, it became clear that they did not work for Delta Airlines, they were merely subcontracted by Delta, and in fact worked for a company called Swissport.
That was when I demanded to speak to their supervisor – if they had such a person - and it then transpired that Delta had in fact only one employee / manager, a person with the name of [snip]. I demanded to speak to him, but was advised that he had already left and gone home… I demanded that they call him at home, which they did.
Keith, the manager of Delta Airlines at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, was not at all interested in my questions, particularly when I asked him about another standby couple who had offered their seats to myself and my wife, when they learnt that we had been stuck for more than a week, not being able to get on a Delta flight… and when I pointed out to him that there were in fact 22 seats available on the plane, he simply said that Delta’s first priority was to load extra cargo, instead of standby passengers (Non-Revenue Passengers, as standby passengers are known to Delta) as that was financially the most logical thing for Delta to do.
He then simply hung up the phone on me – the last thing one would expect from a Delta employee, but then, alas, perhaps understandable in the Africa context where very little accountability can be expected!
About 5 minutes later, three different couples who were also on buddy-passes and on the same priority rating, offered their seats to us, as that was their first attempt, and they by then knew that we were now trying for 6 nights to get on the plane! The check-in people simply refused to allocate that particular couple’s tickets to us, or to any other of the other standby passengers for that matter!
One particular couple - who were then indeed allocated two seats - were so annoyed that Delta would not pass on their seats to long waiting standby passengers, that they then simply refused to get on the plane, and cancelled their boarding passes….. Regardless of that, Delta would not issue those particular seats to ANY of the waiting standby passengers!!!
That being said and done, we simply went back to the ticketing office, to have us again placed on the standby waiting list for the following night…. That was the night of 18 December….
Every night the same thing happened….
Some passengers did a trip to South Africa for 10 days, only to be stuck at O. R. Tambo for the same number of days! (Personally, we have been trying to get on the Delta flight for 14 days now!) – This all is nothing but a clear example of an abuse of power!
But then also – the total breakdown in security!
One particular passenger who lucked out and was given a boarding pass, called us again when we had returned to the hotel, after another unsuccessful attempt to get on the flight! She had cleared customs, was cleared by security personnel, and got on the plane, only to find that someone was sitting in her allocated seat! She called a flight attendant, and it then became clear that the boarding pass given to her at check-in was in the name of another person, and not in her name! Needless to say, she was then again promptly escorted off the plane, and nobody was held accountable or even questioned about the breakdown in security!!!
On December 23, we tried again to get on the flight, with no luck, regardless that we were told earlier in the week that the 23rd is wide open, with many seats available, and that the 23rd was THE day to get on the flight on a stand-by passenger basis!
It became clear when passengers started checking in that there were 22 seats available in business class, and 94 in economy class…. Guess what – only 2 passengers on standby were allowed to board the plane!!!!
Again we were fed the nonsense that the number of standby passengers allowed to fly was subject to the amount of cargo to be taken on, which was UTTER NONSENSE! That became clear when one retired Delta pilot, (also on standby – but on a higher priority of course!) explained to us that the cargo story fed to us was nonsense…. According to him, if a flight has an 8 PM departure, the cargo would already have been loaded on the plane by 4 pm !!!!
According to the same pilot, the issue was only about the inefficiency of the agents booking in passengers and issuing boarding passes…. We checked, and sure as hell – THAT was indeed the problem!!!
It took a minimum of 4 hours for inefficient staff to issue boarding passes to all passengers… (Again, they are not employed by Delta Airlines, but are subcontracted from a company called Swissport – hence the fact that they have no incentive to work faster or more efficient!)
• Look at this now…. This same retired pilot, when he SAW that Delta would not board a standby passenger with a sick baby in her arms, then went and BOUGHT the lady and her baby a ticket out of his own pocket, just so that she could get on the flight, and get her baby home! Shame on Delta!!!!
A couple of “non-revs”, as standby passengers are known and described by Delta, killed time by comparing how long it took other airlines to issue boarding passes to their waiting passengers…. Believe it or not, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and BA took an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes to board their passengers! – Compared to Delta’s FOUR hours!!!!
• So the story given by Delta that the weather, cargo / passenger ratio etc. was the determining factor as to how many standby passengers were allowed to board is plain poppy cock!
• It simply boils down to this – the captain on the plane has a departure time deadline, otherwise he gets dinged - and when it comes close to his scheduled departure time, he simply has the aircraft doors closed and proceeds to depart…. Which means - To hell with who still needs to board – even if it is a passenger with a fully paid ticket – not just the standby-passengers!
• So these are the simple facts – but Delta will not acknowledge the problems are 99% to be blamed on inefficient people employed on a subcontract basis – as that will not be the Political Correct thing to do!!!! – so they blame it on totally irrelevant factors like weather and cargo!! (If that was indeed the case, why do other airlines not have the same problems!!!!??)
Just look at the message BELOW sent to me by Rob Kight - Vice President – Compensation, Benefits and Services - Delta Air Lines, Inc.
How DARE they THREATEN passengers like this!!!!! – Please read the message below!!
(Received by me, when a good friend of mine, Dan Marx of Santa Barbara, contacted Delta in order to try help getting us on a flight!) – Totally bloody preposterous!!! (It is not like “non-revs” are flying for free – standby passengers still pay around 50% of an economy class ticket!
Threatening one to have the flight privileges of the person who gave us the standby ticket is so egregiously inhumane, and corporate crap! (And amounts to blackmailing!)
On Christmas Eve, we were told that DELTA had a total embargo on standby passengers, meaning we were again stuck for the night at the airport, and could only HOPE to get on a flight on CHRISTMAS DAY!!!
On Christmas Day - Day 16 of trying to get on a Delta Flight, we again went to the airport at 3 PM, to have ourselves listed on the standby-list. One particular employee named Quentin, (his name tag described him as a flight controller) - told us to come back to see him (not any another agent!) at 7PM, when it was the cut-off time to check in. He apparently had received word that the Captain on flight DL201 had decided to allow all 14 stand-by passengers to board the flight!
At last! – After 16 attempts go get on a Delta flight!
We were advised that we were to take up seats as indicated on our boarding passes, but that we were to be moved to the business class section after takeoff, when the plane reached cruising altitude.
We did so when told to move seats, only to be faced by disgruntled and irritated flight attendants, when we were seated….. As it was, they were already mad at having to work on Christmas Day, and then got even more disgruntled when the section which was supposed to be clear of any passengers, were now filled by the “non-revs” the Captain allowed to board!
(The flight attendants were rude and unfriendly, and one could almost feel that the food and drinks were just about thrown at you!)
So, there it is – Our 16 day ordeal with Delta Airlines – with whom I will never fly again, and an airline I will not recommend to any of my clients going on an African Safari.
Louis van Tonder
African Safari Connection
16,475 Indian Ruins Road
Prescott, AZ 86305
United States of America
From: Bailey, Raewyn [mailto:Raewyn. Bailey@Delta.com] On Behalf Of Kight, Rob
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10:21 AM
To: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Cc: Cantarutti, Perry
Subject: Buddy Pass Rider
Thank you for your letter concerning your recent Buddy Pass experience.
As you know, the Buddy Pass program is a privilege extended to Delta employees. Buddy Pass riders should only correspond with the Delta employee/retiree who provided them the pass for information about the Buddy Pass program or to share any concerns about a travel experience – whether recent or in progress. The Delta employee/retiree is responsible for ensuring that those with whom he chooses to share that privilege are familiar with how the program works and for addressing with Delta any concerns with a particular trip.
We have asked Patricia Knight, the Delta retiree who gave you the Buddy Pass, to follow up with you on your concerns. If she is unable to answer your questions, she is welcome to contact Delta to have the issue resolved. In the future, the Delta employee/retiree should be your first and only line of contact when issues arise around your use of a Buddy Pass on Delta. Additional correspondence to Delta from you concerning your travels on Buddy Passes could result in the Delta retiree’s Buddy Passes being revoked.
Vice President – Compensation, Benefits and Services
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
From: dmarx1 [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2010 10:21 AM
To: richard. anderson@Delta.com; perry. cantarutti@Delta.com; edward. bastian@Delta.com; glen. hauenstein@Delta.com; vinay. dube@Delta.com; tim. mapes@Delta.com
Subject: FW: Louis and Terri - Stuck in Africa
Is this the way your airline and/or its partners work??
If you can give a friend a bit of help, it would be appreciated.
Daniel R. Marx, Ph. D.
Vice President, Marketing
Burg Consulting Corporation
2339 Vista Del Campo
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: (805) 895-7932