Most days just I love flying. I think most Delta elites feel the same way as they tend to pick Delta because of the good consistent product, the on time flights and when things go wrong, aka IROPS or irregular operations that can happen from time to time, Delta tends to step up and make things right. Maybe not so much this one time last Wednesday night in “hot-lanta”. But I will let Matt share his story of his “miss”-adventure! Enjoy?
Good early morning from Atlanta!
I’m an avid reader of DeltaPoints and a frequent Delta traveler. I’m currently sitting at the check in counters next to the main entrance baggage claim in ATL. It’s 2:30am. I am really tempted to make a video (however I don’t have the lip syncing skills like the guy from LAS)… and I’m in a work shirt and I don’t think my CEO wants the press, and I really enjoy being employed!
I spend most weeks on the road, typically 3-4 segments a week, seeing customers for my sales job based out of Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU) . This week was a little atypical (but of course I have done it many times before).
I scheduled a day trip down to FL to see a customer. A simple 2 up and 2 back. Most people think that is crazy, but I do it about once a quarter. The outbound was fantastic. Great early morning RDU crew, which is typical. Connected down to FL, had my visits, and headed back to the airport for a late departure. I was on the dreaded 11pm RDU flight out of ATL (for those that take it, you know what I am talking about!).
I was making a quick pit stop at home in order to get up in the morning and do a quick direct trip to another customer site. Again another day trip (this time at least it was a direct flight), and yes, I am a little nuts, but that is life on the road. However, I like my nights at home now, and my fiancee appreciates them as well.
As I approached the gate, I saw a few crew and figured we were good to go. As the inbound deplaned I noticed there was some sense of delay. We were missing a first officer. No problem. Happens a lot. I have a good friend that is FO that sits reserve in ATL. Pretty standard procedure here, right? No. Couldn’t find a replacement. Delay, delay, delay. All of a sudden we were showing departure at 12:35. I knew where this was heading. I asked the gate agent to page red coats, had the Diamond line on the phone, the works. This was about to get ugly. It happens, but come on guys, we are at the global headquarters!
Two red coats arrive. I’m not the typical Diamond broad shoulder bully. I nonchalantly pass my ticket over, tell them the situation, and ask to be:
1: booked on the next flight in the morning to my next day destination
2: help me if at all possible recoup that segment (after all, 140 segments/year is No Joke) &
3: help me with accommodations.
They immediately tell everyone there are no hotels. I felt like I was sitting in the stands at the Brazil game the other day. We had kids crying, elderly ones upset, and passionate flyers ready to jump on anyone wearing Delta attire.
I immediately stepped back, made eye contact with one of the red coats, and kindly reminded him about “taking care of me if he could.” ATL police were called in and for some reason at one point, we had a fire alarm going off. The gate agents wheeled over the drink/snack cart, and started the hunt for pillows and blankets. They also ordered McDonalds from across the concourse – noting it would be a few hours until the food arrived. You said, “McDonalds,” right?
I was called over a little while later and offered an econo-lodge that was 30 minutes from the airport and handed a $10.00 dinner voucher (after kindly asking, especially after reading Rene’s post about the latest “enhancement” reg food vouchers). A shuttle would be heading to the hotel shortly. Sorry, but at 150+ nights a year, that isn’t happening. A handful of passengers agreed to go to the hotel. This of course was followed by an announcement: “Remember, you are 30 minutes away, so you will need to leave at 5am for arrival in time tomorrow.” Again, no thanks for only a few hours in a cheap hotel. I called the Marriott line to find a room. SCORE! ATL Courtyard 1 mile away; confirmed and paid. This could be another story in itself…
I made one last attempt before I left the stand, as I had listened to the many bloggers on BoardingArea about sticking with an agent and standing ground on your situation. At this point, the two red-coats had pulled a Houdini. I think there was a shift change. I told them the whole time, not their fault, but they slipped away and left me with a “red coat manager.” I won’t mention names here, as I will include those in my report to Delta. I asked for a toothbrush, etc. and the “manager” walked me over to a back room in the concourse and handed me a “SkyTeam” kit.
I took a peek, not too bad. Before I walked away, I asked the “manager” about any meal vouchers and/or accommodations/vouchers for the situation. She claimed nothing was within her power. That’s when I pulled out the magical $10.00 voucher. Her face went blank. “Well, they will have to answer to me, then.” I responded: “No problem, I just wanted a little consideration for the situation and don’t appreciate being lied to about what can be done.” I asked for her full name, walked away, and headed down to the tram (which turns off in the early morning hours).
It was a long walk back to the baggage claim to go to the hotel. I called for the Courtyard shuttle from the baggage claim area and was told: “sorry, we see your reservation and we don’t have a room for you.” I looked up at the board and saw this:
I took my comments to Twitter. Rene responded immediately (I don’t think he sleeps!), as well as Delta Assist. I have to give them both credit. I received responses immediately. I don’t know if Delta knows who I am, but they made an effort to apologize and credit my account with some miles. I appreciate the response, but it still doesn’t get me a place to stay.
I’m typing this to you from the baggage claim at ~3am watching highlights of CNN. I’m tired. I’m in the same work clothes I put on 24 hours ago, and I still don’t have a resolution, and can’t find a room to save my life. Hard to believe the mothership sleeps at night. But then again, who am I to be a travel snob, there are 150+ people sleeping over at A7!
Hope you all sleep well, I’m wired after those free sodas, and heated after my Delta/Marriott failures. I was really let down this evening/morning. – Goodnight from a quiet ATL!
-Update: Made it through the night. After a recommendation from Rene, I was able to get through security just after 4am and made my way to terminal F.
Quick nap outside the SkyClub and was able to jump into a shower around 6am. Fantastic crew working the F club – all accommodating and apologetic for my situation. Great showers and felt a little better after finishing up.
I was walking to my gate to continue my business trip and then I decided, you know what, I just need to head home – I feel awful! – Matt
Oh my. Oy! Uh, thank you Matt for sharing? Respected consumer advocate Chris Elliott is someone who thinks everyone should be treated equally when it comes to air travel but I don’t think he had this in mind i.e. that all get to sleep in the airport.
The EU has much more strict rules about how passengers are to be treated. Perhaps, with Delta becoming uber cheap on even food vouchers now, it is time for some similar rules here in the good old USA. After all, if any of these 160 passengers had not showed up, Delta would have charged them change fees or just said – sorry buy a new full price ticket! Is it really fair for Delta to treat them, and Matt, the way they did? What say you readers. – René
PS – If the poll does not work, try the one on the top right side on the blog. Still having some tech issues with the polls in a post!