Stock photo from Delta Air Lines
Let me set the stage for you so you can see the turn of events. Last week on my PWM test, the last flight home from Detroit to South Bend was oversold all day long by one. That was convenient since I am only one. I got to the gate very early. So early that they were just pushing the previous flight. I waited for the very friendly gate agent (GA) to finish and happily offered up my seat should they need me saying I know the drill and am happy to board last to see if they need me.
Jumping forward in time we are nearing departure and are delayed a little, but this is a short flight and Delta does pad the times a bit for the DTW – SBN flights so we would likely make up some of this time.
I hovered around the gate area and jokingly asked both the GA and Redcoat if they wanted to bump me early, put me in the Westin (right there at the airport) to save them some time. They smiled but said no as if they did that, and the flight went out with an empty seat, they would be in big trouble. I said I know and was just kidding.
The only one that was not smiling at all this was this lady, whose name I did not get, who was also by the counter and was clearly distraught. As it turned out, this woman was a standby. More on this in a bit.
The GA announces boarding and tells me to get on the plane because they are not going to need me. I said, “Really?” followed by, “fine I will board, but please you come get me if you need me.”
I was the only one who boarded when they called for Diamonds to board the jet.
When the plane was full, I noticed the distraught passenger had not boarded. I asked the GA when she came on, about to send the flight off, what happened. She said the woman was standby and was trying to get to see a sick and dying relative. As it turns out I misunderstood and it was the other way round and she was going HOME from this sad situation.
But I did not hesitate. I stood up and went to grab my stuff to get off the jet.
The GA said, “You will not get any compensation.”
I said, “Fine! Let’s put this person on this flight.”
I walked to the end of the jet bridge and stopped at the now closed door into the airport.
I was told later that while I was waiting the GA announced to the passengers onboard just what was going on and why I got off the jet. Apparently applause broke out.
The GA then comes up the jetway and opens the door. The GA yells over to the Redcoat, who was comforting the standby passenger trying to get on (who was apparently crying at this point) and says:
“Mr. de Lambert is willing to get off for NO compensation. Let’s put her onboard.”
The Redcoat, said, “NO. I have already closed the flight. You can get on, or not, but I have closed the flight.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Really?
I again repeated, “I don’t want anything just get her on this flight.” Redcoat again repeated NO.
I angrily said, as I walked through the door at the gate, “THIS IS JUST WRONG!”
I boarded, took my seat, the boarding door was closed and we pushed back and were on our way to SBN.
Looking back on this, to me this was one of those situations where a Delta Redcoat could have lived up to their reputation of going above and beyond. To “Keep Climbing” rather than Keep Descending.
I reached out to Delta about this event and was told that the distraught flyer was accommodated and taken care of by Delta. They even spoke with the GA, Redcoat and flyer involved and looked at this as a learning experience, but feel that it was handled correctly.
While I completely understand the need to get a delayed flight out ASAP (we were already almost half an hour late), I think stepping up and helping someone like this passenger outweighs a slightly longer delay. My fellow passengers seemed to agree. Plus, SBN was where everyone was going so no one was going to miss-connect for a 5-10 minute longer delay.
I am still upset over this one but you tell me. What would you have done? Did everyone involved make the right call? – René