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.”