Services not rendered
by Jonathan W. - Posted Wed August 5, 2009 @ 12:31 AM
I fly often (Elite-level SkyTeam member) and I understand well that the air travel experience can be unpredictable. However, how I was abused by Delta Air Lines recently went beyond anything I have experienced.
My flight (Charlotte to Austin, via Atlanta) was delayed about 30 minutes due to the aircraft being late arriving in Charlotte. I informed the gate agents that the delay would cause me to miss my connection and if I was to be stranded, I'd prefer Charlotte to Atlanta. I requested an alternate itinerary or a refund for my flight. However, the agents assured me that I would definitely make my connection and therefore they could not offer me a refund or alternate routing. Having no choice, I was forced to board.
I landed after my connection left. Hartsfield-Jackson was a mad house: tempers flaring, inadequate and disinterested staff, indefinite hold times on the phones.
I was shuffled around wait lists on oversold flights all day and confirmed on a flight the next morning. However, as the gate agent explained, Delta would not be offering me a hotel voucher since this predicament was not Delta's fault. The reason my aircraft was not ready to leave on time in Charlotte was because a medical problem had delayed the PREVIOUS flight. Therefore, what could Delta have done? Delta is not responsible. I eventually flew standby to Killeen, TX and drove 80 miles back to Austin.
This is inexcusable. I purchased a confirmed seat on a flight and through no fault of my own had it taken from me, was stranded in an arbitrary city, forced to run around a crowded airport like a mad-man attempting to beg my way onto standby flights for an entire day, and was then told that I should go get a hotel and fly tomorrow since none of this was Delta's fault.
I am frankly tired of this "not my fault" nonsense mongered by this airline. The reason that my flight was delayed was because Delta did not have a plane ready. It is simply irrelevant *why* no plane was ready. The plane was not ready because the contingency plans made by Delta failed - because Delta chose to trade service quality for cost-efficiency, lost the bet, and paid with my money. I would not have been stuck in Atlanta if Delta chose to have my plane ready 2 hours in advance instead of 30 minutes in advance, so that a short delay in a previous flight would not result in delays cascading to subsequent flights. Delta CHOSE not do this because Delta wanted better operational efficiency. Delta CHOSE to oversell every flight from Atlanta to Austin (making me unable to fly standby on a later flight) because it was profitable. Were Delta's policies more conservative, I would not have been stuck in Atlanta.
Moreover, these contrived excuses of just *why* it is that you could not fulfill your obligations are irrelevant and not reciprocal. What if I purchased a flight but didn't give you all the money because of an "unexpected" medical emergency? Would you still fly me to where I need to go? What if I was late because of unexpected traffic? Would you give me all my money back because that was outside of my control or would you just tell me "I don't care, leave earlier next time"? That's right. So ditto for your planes - I don't care why you were late, and I don't care, if you don't want it to happen, then leave earlier next time.
The bottom line here is that when you sell a confirmed seat to somebody, you cannot just take it away. It is a contractual obligation that you have to negotiate your way out of. If a flight is oversold, you offer vouchers, flights, hotels, etc. until enough people give up their seats voluntarily.
I had a confirmed seat on a flight to Austin. My confirmed seat was taken from me (or rather, never delivered) by Delta Air Lines and through no fault of my own. I want my confirmed seat back or compensation for it.
As I hopelessly explained to the gate agents who could not understand my logic: I want the seat I paid for. If the flight is full and you cannot give me the seat I paid for, then offer me or somebody else on the flight a voucher in exchange for the seat. Delta collected payment from two people and is offering service to only one. That money is owed back to me.