Keys Disease

Keys Disease
Battling Keys Disease at the Futura Yacht Club in Islamorada, Fla. three years ago.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Cranky Missive Sent to Delta: Are You Kidding Me?


I'm not the kind of guy whose feathers are ruffled by short flight delays. However, I have flown the trip between Greenville-Spartanburg and Atlanta 10 times over the past three weeks and 7 of those flights have had posted delays between 25 minutes and 2 hours. The most recent was on my way back from the Chrysler Pacifica media event. My flights originated in Orange County Airport with a connection in – where else? – Atlanta.

Delayed more than 45 minutes – not a huge interruption for those of us who fly a lot and deal with delays all the time – the circumstances were such that I simply couldn't let it go without firing off a complaint to Delta. What follows is the exact copy of my note after filling in all the blanks for the date, flight number and so on and so forth.

“I arrived at the gate for DL 5432 to find that it was delayed 21 minutes. The gate agent announced the delay, attributing it to the crew being late arriving on another flight. I was close enough to the desk to hear the agent eventually phone someone to ask why the delay because the crew was currently on the plane and had been. Obviously I couldn't hear the response, but it became clear as boarding began. The missing crew wasn't flying the plane, but was a crew deadheading back to Greenville. Oh, and it turns out this crew was sitting in the gate area the entire time. Do you know how many times in my more-than 1.8 million miles of flying with Delta that a plane has been officially delayed for me? That's right: never. And it gets better. After the craft was loaded, we sat for another 10 minutes waiting for another deadheader. Do you know how many times in my more-than 1.8 million miles of flying with Delta a loaded plane has been held for me? Correct: never. With that person on board, the door was shut and the jet bridge was being pulled back when the process reversed for yet another deadheader. Do you have any clue how many times in my more-than 1.8 million miles of flying on Delta the jet bridge has been returned to the plane and the door opened for me? You guessed it: zero, zip, zilch, nada. Then the flight attendant made an announcement thanking us for our continued patience because we were waiting for one more passenger. On stepped another deadheader. Finally, the plane pushed back about 45 minutes behind schedule.

"The issue isn't so much the delay – the flights between GSP and Atlanta are delayed more than they are on time in my experience – but to have one set of rules for paying passengers and another for deadheading crew members is insulting. I have run up to the gate for a connecting flight when my inbound flight was late, been able to look out the window and see the jet bridge still connected to the plane and been refused boarding because of Delta's 10-minute rule. I guess one way around that is just to officially delay the flight. But, even that wasn't enough as more deadheaders continued arriving.

"Apparently the 10-minute rule is really more a guideline that can be ignored under the right conditions and for the right people.

"I never ceased to be amazed at the ever more creative ways Delta finds to inconvenience its passengers.”

7 comments:

  1. As a near million-mile Delta flyer, let me tell you about the time I paid for a first class seat from Seattle to Atlanta, got to the gate to check luggage (because the skycaps outside were nowhere to be found) and was told I could not board because I was 1 MINUTE LATE checking in. The reason? I was in the Medallion line to check in (Gold Medallion status for many years), but the gate agent went on break, and we all had to move to another line. By the time I got to the front, I was "late." No amount of discussion with the gate agent or the ensuing red coat I insisted she call, made any difference.

    Long story short, at that time (Before Delta decided to try and run Alaska Airlines out of business in Seattle for refusing to merge with them) Delta only had 2 flights a day from Seattle to Atlanta. I got the last seat on the next flight out - the middle seat of the last row at 9:40 p.m. The alternative was to be wait-listed for First on the next day morning flight, but sit in Row 29 otherwise.

    Needless to say, I fly Alaska now anytime I can. Plus they offer more legroom, and better on-time service than Delta ever dreamed of.

    Delta used to be great - they would hit the long ball to be helpful, and I have several stories to attest to that. But after they merged with Northwest, it seems Delta's customer service went out the window and Northwest's attitude of "We don't care, We don't have to" became the new Delta way of doing business.

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    1. The merger was the worst thing that ever happened to Delta frequent flyers.

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  2. I've heard the same thing about the effect of Delta's merger with Northwest. I don't fly nearly as much as I used to but had good experiences on Delta before. Glad I'm not flying that much any more.

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    1. When I'm off the road for a couple of weeks, I miss it, but you are right about the effects of the merger. Northwest had a serious reputation for bad customer service and Delta has paid the price.

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  3. Can you fly Southwest for any of your flights? LOVE Southwest. Timely, friendly, 2 bags fly free, affordable rates, no re-booking fees, can't think of one time I've had a bad experience.

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  4. You ever get a reply from Delta?

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    1. Two, in fact. They were of the screw-you-it's-our-airline variety. I did learn that the gate agent, at his/her discretion, has the authority to reopen the jetbridge door and allow passengers on the plane. Apparently delaying a flight 45 minutes to collect deadheading crew somehow falls into this category. They count; we don't, is the takeaway.

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