It’s over, Delta. I know I said the same thing 2 years ago. But this time I really mean it.
A bit of background: two years ago I had Gold Medallion status on Delta. Despite that, I decided that between costs and a marked decline in service, it was time to move on. And so I abandoned you for Southwest.
And I never looked back. Until I realized that I had lots of SkyMiles built up with you, and I had better use them before you made them even more difficult to redeem.
So I booked a free flight. I figured that the lack of cost would make up for any service problems I might encounter.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
First of all, there was the $60 per bag charge for checked luggage. Having been spoiled by Southwest’s free checked bags policy, my free flight with you had become a bit less free. But that would be a minor snag compared to what would come.
A weather delay put my connection in jeopardy. My carefully planned two-hour layover was reduced to minutes, but as I prepared to board, I was assured by the gate agent that I would make my connection.
Upon arriving, I had twenty minutes to make my connection. The gate agent that met my arriving flight said I would have no problem making my flight.
Upon arriving at the gate, I was thrilled to see the aircraft was still at the gate. I was less thrilled to see the door was closed. The gate agent explained that the door had been closed, so I (and seven others from my previous flight) would not be allowed to board.
His explanation was that it wouldn’t be fair to make two hundred people already on board to be delayed to allow us to board. Further, he said that if there had been ten or more of us, they would’ve waited. Apparently we were below the cutoff. I’d love to know how you arrived at that number; perhaps the agent just made it up.
He let us all know that we would be rebooked on the first flight the next day, but since it was a delay caused by weather, the airline was not responsible and would not provide any assistance—financial or otherwise—in finding a hotel for the night.
I then asked if they could retrieve my luggage, and he carefully took down the claim tag numbers, then a very specific description of each bag, and then promised they would be retrieved and I could get them at baggage claim.
Meanwhile, a half hour had passed since I arrived at the gate, and the aircraft was still there, jet way still in place. Apparently, you didn’t mind delaying those two hundred people; you just didn’t want it to be because of the eight of us.
Trudging off to baggage claim, I waited in line to speak to the baggage service agent. When I reached the front of the line, she directed me to the carousel where my bags would appear, but warned that it might take up to an hour.
She lied, too.
As I waited by the carousel, I used the Delta app on my phone to track my bags. According to your app, my bags were airborne on the flight that I wasn’t allowed to board. Why the baggage service agent did not have access to this information, I have no idea.
I returned to the counter, and the agent I had originally spoken to was nowhere to be found. Her replacement checked my baggage claim tags and confirmed that yes indeed, my bags were off to my destination. When I asked her about the gate agent’s promise, she said, “Oh, there was no way they were going to pull your bags.” When I asked about the TSA rule that bags cannot fly unaccompanied, she said that was only internationally.
Well, at least she told the truth, as opposed to her colleagues. And further, she provided me with the name of a hotel that offered a discount for interrupted travel victims.
Thus I was reminded in the most forceful of ways why I had left you in the first place. Five employees: four liars and one truth teller. Not a good ratio to my way of thinking.
Should airlines be responsible for weather problems? Of course not. But I don’t think a modicum of empathy is out of line.
I’m sure that among your eighty thousand employees, there are many that are focused on the customer. Unfortunately for me, I only met one of them.
Upon finally boarding my flight the next day, I was greeted by a video featuring your CEO, Richard Anderson. He spoke about the importance of customer service and even had a name for it: “The Delta Difference.”
With all due respect, Mr. Anderson, here’s the “Delta Difference” that I experienced:
- Charges for checked baggage
- Outright lies
- An attitude that I had somehow committed a heinous crime and deserved no consideration, much less empathy
I’ll give you this: it’s different, all right. Especially when compared to Southwest.
And so Delta, it’s goodbye to you—again. I still have some free miles in my account, but I can’t imagine a situation where I would use them. It’s just not worth it.
Oh, and one final example: on my return flight, it was announced that there were first class seats available for $250. It was long flight, so I figured it might be worth it. The gate agent was all smiles and helpfulness—until she discovered I was traveling on a free ticket. At that point her demeanor changed to contempt, as if I had asked for her first-born. She coldly informed me that the only way I could get the upgrade was to purchase a full fare ticket. With one final attempt to get a little consideration, I inquired that if there was still one empty first class seat when everyone had boarded, could I purchase it for the $250? She abruptly said, “Then the plane will leave with an empty seat.”
Well, thank you very little. And thank you Delta, for reminding me why I left in the first place. Best of luck to you, as I’m sure there is no shortage of people willing to put up with “The Delta Difference.”
I’m just no longer one of them.
Today’s Fact Cetera
The average number of people airborne over the U.S. during any given hour is 61,000.