Five Planes from San Diego to Tampa
As you may already know, I attended the 2010 SHRM Global Conference earlier this week. I flew out to San Diego on Saturday June 26th, and planned to return home on June 30th, which was the last day of the conference. The trip out on Delta Airlines was seamless and smooth. The return trip was one of the worst experiences I have had in more than a decade as a business traveler.
Here is the timeline version of what happened:
- Conference ends: 1:15 PM PT
- Arrive airport and head to the Delta Sky Club: 6:00 PM
- Head to Gate 40 to await boarding at 10:00 PM
- Delta announces flight crew for our flight stuck on runway, and that if we can’t depart by 11:30 PM, flight will be cancelled due to to curfew in effect at San Diego airport.
- Flight attendants arrive at 11:00, flight was scheduled to depart to ATL at 10:55 PM
- After much discussion, we board plane around 11:40 PM, told we are okayed to fly. There is a loud roar from the crowd, and a mad rush for the seats.
- at about 12:05 AM, we are de-planed by Delta and told our flight is cancelled until 6:45 AM
- I get a hotel voucher at 12:45 AM, and a recommendation to return at 5 AM to be ready for 6:45 AM departure. (no transportation and no meal vouchers offered)
- $8 shuttle ride to Sheraton to sleep at 1:30 AM, 4:50 wake-up call
- Arrive at airport to find flight rescheduled to 7:45 AM, with actual departure taking place around 8:45 AM
- Missed connection in ATL, Issued $6 (!) meal voucher,and run to try to catch a connection to Tampa scheduled to depart in 20 minutes. Back-up plan if I miss this flight? Fly me to DFW and then put me on an American Airlines flight to Tampa, getting me home around 11:45 PM
From there, the comedy of errors just goes on and on. After boarding the plane, the cargo door won’t shut and the plane for flight 67 to Tampa at 4:20 PM ET is taken out of service for maintenance issues. We are de-planed again. A secondary plane is found. I lose an upgrade to First Class on the new flight to a line jumper “who really needs a drink”. As if I don’t? WTF?
A very kind Delta employee finds me a seat, probably by displacing a non-revenue flyer, and we finally get headed to Tampa at 7ish PM. We land in a lightning storm, and my wife picks me up. Home about 8:45 PM. Just about 24 hours from start to finish, with 3 hours sleep, a sandwich that cost me an extra $5 bucks to buy despite the voucher, and some peanuts.
Not so much. Lots of apologizing, and responsibility ducking. No effort to go the extra mile, except by one Delta employee, who got me into a First Class seat after I bitched a lot.
I know Delta is a monolithic airline. I realize they have high costs, low margins, and tight schedules, but c’mon! Would it have been so much to ask for a bagel and a coffee after three hours sleep? How about a discount voucher for future travel? Some extra frequent flyermiles? I have held Elite status withNWA, and now Delta for almost a decade.
I don’t expect much. I just want to get from point A to point B with minimal difficulty. I understand that your system breaks down every now and then,and things don’t work. That is part of the deal. But you could try a hell of a lot harder to make people more comfortable during a crappy experience than you did. That should be part of your deal. I even tried getting help on Twitter from @DeltaAssist, but no response so far.
I tweeted as much of this I could with a purpose in mind. I wanted my colleagues and travel buddies and colleagues in SHRM travelling from our Global conference to see my bad experience, Delta. I am not an asshole. I am just a loyal customer for a decade who had a really bad experience, and you didn’t do anything beyond the minimum to make it right. I expect more. I deserve more.
You weren’t listening during my exhausting trip. The remaining question is, are you listening at all now? Please don’t make me shop with my feet.
PS: Oh yeah, I signed up for a month of service for your GoGoinflight wireless before I left for San Diego so I could do some work. Your service wasn’t working on the flight out to LAX. That kind of sucked as well!