I don’t fly Delta, but it is heralded by many as the best carrier in the United States with good operational reliability and great customer service. Forgive me for being skeptical.
Yesterday, an employee was flying from New Orleans, LA to Panama City, FL. He had planned to drive (~6hrs), but was so tired from his redeye the night before that he claimed he could not make the journey. A flight on Delta via Atlanta or Uber were about the same price ($400) so I gave him the choice.
He chose Delta and I booked him a same-day flight, leaving in the early evening. He finished his appointments a bit early and reached the airport in New Orleans at 4:00p. Around the same time, he received notice that his evening flight was delayed. He called me and I told him that there was still time to confirm the 4:35p flight and that would allow him to make an earlier connecting flight to Panama City. I told him to ask the agent when he checked in and text me if there was a problem.
No Common Sense
He did, and the agent agreed to put him on the 4:35p flight since he only had hand baggage. But the earlier flight from from Atlanta to Panama City? Nope, “It’s not delayed so I cannot touch it for free. But you can pay a change fee plus difference in fare to do switch.”
Are you serious? She calculated a $75 change fee and a difference in fare of $52. I have no idea where she came up with that number. $75 is the same-day change fee, so why should there be a difference in fare? Second, the ticket was booked hours before the flight. It was in full Y. Were there even higher fares?
Such stupid and rigid inflexibility. With the delay on the original flight he would have only had about 20 minutes to connect in Atlanta. The Atlanta to Panama City flights were wide open, we paid full fare, so why not just put him on, make him happy, and get him to his destination earlier?
My employee argued with her and ended up missing the flight. He made me aware of what happened only after he missed the flight or else I would have told him to just take the flight and I’d sort it out while he was in the air.
So he ended up taking a 5:55p flight instead. That gave him a lot more time to connect in Atlanta, but he was too late for the earlier connection and was ultimately forced to stay with his original connection to Florida.
That aircraft was coming from Miami and was stuck on the tarmac in MIA after the shooting last night. He ended up leaving Atlanta 2hr,17min late and arriving into Panama City at 1am.
I get it. One second-hand experience is not enough to judge an airline. I am not “judging” Delta based upon this single incident. But in 2,000,000+ miles of flying I’ve never heard of anything as unreasonable as “your connecting flight is not delayed, so please wait four hours in Atlanta.” That is the antithesis of rational and reasonable customer service, let alone it was a full fare ticket that I could have cancelled within the 24-hour cool-off period.
To my readers who fly Delta, is this something normal? Because I can tell you that despite sometimes poor customer service, I never experienced this on American or United.
image: Tomás Del Coro / CC 2.0