Imagine you step onboard a Delta flight and smell something horrible. Really horrible.
You assume it is coming from the lavatory or perhaps elsewhere on the plane. You’re seated in first class and find your seat. As you settle in, the smell seems to grow worse. Is it your seatmate?
You reach into your bag, pull out your mobile phone cable to charge your phone and plug it in. At that point, you notice there is something smeared over the power outlet. And yes, it is exactly what you smell. You jump up out of your seat and find that your seat and the floor around it are covered in feces. It is now on your shoes, trousers, and bare ankles.
You flag down a flight attendant. She hands you some paper towels, remarking, “Are you kidding me? We turned that in. I can’t believe they didn’t clean it!” Had she followed protocol, she would have taken out the biohazard kit every Delta aircraft is equipped. You enter the lavatory and attempt to clean yourself. Your shoes are just gross.
As you exit the lavatory, you are surprised to find out that boarding has continued. The mess has still not been cleaned up. You ask the flight attendants what is going on.
Horrid Customer Service
Flight attendants become agitated, deflecting responsibility and showing apathy:
If they didn’t clean, that’s not our responsibility, someone from the gate needs to take care of that. We are in the middle of an active boarding. We’re busy. If you want, you can get off the plane and talk to somebody.
So you get off the plane and approach a gate agent. The gate agent calls a manager who is anything but helpful:
If the cleaning crew didn’t do their job, that’s not my problem. What do you want me to do about it?
Uh, clean it?
Sir, it’s almost time for that plane to leave. You can sit in your seat or you can be left behind.
By this time, four other passengers had approached the gate and the manager relented, sending in a cleaner. But the cleaner only used paper towels and the smell remained. You compalain again are presented with an ultimatum:
We are pushing this plane back, you can either sit in your seat or you can stay behind.
You have a meeting and are forced to take your seat.
This is sadly a true story, and on Delta of all carriers. The account above is the account of Matthew Meehan, a Delta Diamond Medallion member who was forced to take his seat on a flight from Atlanta to Miami last Friday.
I empathize with his sentiment:
It was dehumanizing to be spoken to like that, demanded to sit in a seat full of feces with no care. They care more about getting a plane out on time than the safety and health of the passengers on the plane.
Delta has apologized and offered him 50,000 miles in compensation. Meehan is threatening to sue. The aircraft was taken out of service when the flight reached Miami for deep cleaning.
On Nov. 1, an aircraft operating flight 1949 from Atlanta to Miami was boarded before cleaning was completed following an incident from a previous flight with an ill service animal. Delta apologizes to customers impacted by the incident and has reached out to make it right, offering a refund and additional compensation. The safety and health of our customers and employees is our top priority, and we are conducting a full investigation while following up with the right teams to prevent this from happening again.
Even thinking about sitting in dog feces upsets my stomach. If Meehan is not exaggerating, Delta totally failed him. In any case, Delta failed every passenger onboard by not cleaning up a known mess before commencing boarding. Were the noses of the flight attendants clogged? I think their behavior was particularly shameful.
image: Matthew Meehan