Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delta Delta Delta Will Not Help Ya Help Ya Help Ya. (Part 1)

I was lucky enough to fly to Ireland for a whole month, and get paid for it. I'm a person who experiences a great deal of good fortune. I should be grateful for the opportunity to see so much of the world. But here I am whining anyway. I'm sure Delta Airlines would rather I accentuate the positives, but I don't care about how Delta Airlines feels. I want to share with the world (or some tiny fragment of it) just what I experienced through this god-awful, terrible, no good company. A company that is among the worst of an already pretty terrible industry. Below is a list of the idiocies I experienced. Share with your friends.

1) On the way over to Shannon, Ireland, one of my students was on the same flight. She made the error of assuming she had reserved a seat on the plane when she made her...reservation. Unfortunately, she and about six others were told their reservations had been for nothing because Delta, as always, overbooked the plane. My student had to stay overnight in NYC to get on the next night's flight. This involved an extra trip back to the airport from the first hotel that turned them away because Delta had made no reservations for them there. Yes. This theme will return later.

2) On the way back to the U.S., Mom and I flew into JFK airport on time, with nearly three hours to spare till our flight to Detroit. We were feeling pretty confident, in spite of the fact that JFK airport is a sinkhole of doom and delays. About 15-20 minutes before our scheduled boarding time, an announcement was made that our gate had changed to another one a little ways down the concourse. All of us scrambled down to the new gate to be greeted by a wide-eyed and very confused desk agent who wanted to know who we were and what we were doing there. Turns out our gate hadn't changed...the OTHER flight at the original gate was supposed to move. So we all book it down back to the original gate, only to find the other flight was being told they were not to move.

3) At about this point, we find out that our plane was delayed by "weather." Apparently, if there's a light overcast, it's bad weather. Shortly after being fed this obvious pile of crap, the sun came out. Too late, though, because we were already being bumped back on departure by at least an hour. I waited in line to find out if it were possible to get to Chicago instead, where my dad could pick my mom and me up from his meetings there. I was told no, but there was a plane from Detroit to La Crosse the following day at 12:40. Our best scenario, barring making our tight connection, was to stay over in Detroit. No compensation, of course, because they were still claiming "weather" as the cause of the delay.

4) While waiting in line, a lady asked if this was the gate for Barcelona. This was the OTHER flight that was supposed to leave from our gate, but maybe now was supposed to be at the other gate now (unclear). So I told her I wasn't sure but I think that was now the other gate. The poor lady asked the ticket agent and was told to stay here because this was the right gate. No more than five minutes later, the loudspeaker announced that the Barcelona plane left out of the OTHER gate. The poor lady looked confused and exasperated (a feeling I well understood).

5) About 2 1/4 hours late, we finally took off for Detroit. The pilot, bless him, got us there as fast as he could, but we arrived no more than ten minutes late for our connection. We were told hastily to go "over there" to get rescheduled. We took off for "over there" but saw no "there" to go to. By this time, I was getting really hacked. I saw a Sky Miles kiosk, where a woman was trying to sign people up for the program. I figured she would know where "over there" was so I approached. She cheerily asked me if I wanted to get a free Delta flight for signing up. I said, "Actually, no. I don't plan to fly Delta ever again." The guy signing up looked up in surprise and asked if they were really that bad. The lady hastily said, "No! They are NOT that bad!" and gave me a dirty look. Unphased, I said to the guy, "Well, this is the second time in less than a year that they've left me stranded overnight, so you do the math." The lady asked what I wanted and sent me on my way.

6) It turns out "over there" was a designated gate with information and phones specifically for all the Delta customers who, like us, had been jacked over. It's pretty telling to me that there's an entire area cordoned off to deal with all this. I mean, this was not a temporary setup but a permanent, carpeted, furnished area. Ugh. So we were barked at to scan our boarding passes to get replacement flight. Delta planned to get us home the following day via Indianapolis via Minneapolis to La Crosse. Three more flights on Delta? I don't think so. The lady there barked at us to call in to get something better. The lady on the phone (the designated Delta phone bank in the permanent area set up for customers they screw over) told me she didn't know why they had done that when there were seven seats available on the direct La Crosse flight at 12:40 the following day. Seven seats. She said she had me marked down for two of them. All we had to do was to show up at 9:30 to the airport the following morning to claim the two that we wanted. I said, "So you're telling me I am guaranteed two of those seats tomorrow morning. You have guaranteed me two seats?" She said yes. Two seats guaranteed. Okay.

7) Now. I have to say something decent here. Delta did put us up at a hotel (mom and I each got our own rooms instead of sharing) along with $18 in meal vouchers. The funny thing is that when I called the pizza place to have dinner brought to our rooms and said I had some vouchers, the lady on the phone said, "Oh, you mean Delta vouchers?" So clearly this was not a novel situation. Mind you, she didn't ask if they were airline vouchers. She asked if they were DELTA vouchers. DELTA specifically. She KNEW THEY WERE FROM DELTA BECAUSE DELTA SUCKS.

To keep these short(ish), I'll start the following day's events in the next posting...

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