What I gave up when DL 836 was canceled

This is just to let my little friends at Delta know what it is I gave up when their plane broke down and rebooked me to try and get me home on the same day as my original flight schedule. I’ll probably make this blog post a retweet and send it to their customer service twitter account and hash tag it with #DeltaFAIL or something.

1) A one stop flight (I now have 2 stops and on my first stop I’ll have to run with my wife and baby to the next gate)
2) Lie flat seats so my family can sleep during this 10 hour journey from the islands of Aloha
3) Dinner and breakfast (and I mean real food not this sandwich bullshit you pull on your regular domestic flights)
4) Personal entertainment system
5) Leg room (I mean a LOT of legroom too where I can put my feet up using the lie flat seat)
6) A real pillow
7) A real blanket (not these strips of cloth you say are blankets on your smaller aircraft)
8) Better snacks (not just the weak offering of peanuts, pretzels, or cookies)
9) A quieter/newer aircraft
10) 9 hours of my Saturday that I’ll never get back that I could have used to prepare for the coming work week (those 9 hours would have let me get some rest, do some laundry, do a little last minute relaxing, give my daughter some time to readjust to being at home, sort my mail, go for a motorcycle ride, vacuum my house, buy groceries, eat at least 2 meals, catch up on shows on my TiVo, download all my vacation pictures, the list is almost endless)

After giving up these 10 things, all you can offer me and my wife is $200 Delta Dollars after I paid over $2000 for my round trip flight from FLL to HNL (and this is after getting a supervisor to talk with me for a good 10 minutes after speaking to 2 gate agents and a customer service rep who originally offered me only $100 Delta Dollars). $200 Delta Dollars is about half a flight or 4 checked bags. You let me know if I have no right to be angry. Go ahead I dare you!

Update: I got two more $150 vouchers from Delta Airlines so I guess this gets me pretty close to almost half of what I paid for my ticket. I’m still a bit pissed though but I will eventually have to fly Delta to use my vouchers which expire in a year.


One thought on “What I gave up when DL 836 was canceled

  1. Hostage in Honolulu

    Has anyone else been “held captive” on a Delta Flight that the company knew, prior to boarding, would not be departing? Delta Airlines deliberately lied to me (and about 300 other passengers), and greatly inconvenienced us (Time, Money and Stress), to keep us in their revenue system, at our expense.

    I boarded Delta Flight # 836 (Honolulu to Atlanta, with a connection to Philadelphia), on the 1st of June, and pushed back on time (3:32 PM). Moments later we taxied to a new gate and the crew shut down the aircraft engines. The captain made an announcement about ten minutes later concerning the “short taxi time”, announcing they had “discovered” a problem with one of the engines. Some maintenance trouble-shooting would be required and he hoped we would know more in the next thirty minutes. These “standby to standby” messages were repeated every 20-30 minutes for just over two hours as we baked in the humid 86 degree sunny weather on the ramp in Honolulu. As the nearly 300 passengers aboard the completely full airplane began to get very uncomfortable and restless, we were rewarded with a glass of luke warm water (no ice was on board the airplane, and apparently no food or snacks were aboard either). I suddenly realized what was bothering me before boarding time at the gate: The agents did not offer anyone the chance to check their larger carry-ons in this packed flight (I can’t remember the last time this did NOT happen to avoid running out of space in the Overhead Bins), nor was there any ability to Gate Check our larger items at the bottom of the jet way as we boarded. The airplane had just arrived from Atlanta a few hours earlier, and these folks KNEW that this flight WOULD NOT LEAVE or they would have checked the larger items and stocked the jet with ice, snacks and food, before it pushed back from the gate for a flight of eight to nine hours duration!
    After more than two hours in the hot airplane, we were finally released into the terminal and we waited at the departure gate for three more hours with sporadic announcements telling us they would tell us more at a later time. Word was spreading fast that the aircrew knew our plane was not airworthy after it landed from the previous inbound flight, but that Delta (and the crew) decided to inconvenience us (and cause us to miss all possible alternate flights out of Hawaii on 1 June) by loading us onto the plane, pushing back from the gate and then “discovering” the engine malfunction and returning to the gate. Had they planned to actually take off they would have had ice on the airplane! In addition, the pay clock had now begun for the flight crew at push back, and we were effectively held hostage through the afternoon (on the un-air conditioned plane) and through the evening in the terminal with the two Delta agents only dealing with a total of about 10-15 of the approximate 300 passengers per hour!

    I got into the line for one of the two gate agents and stood waiting for more than two hours to speak to an agent (one of the agents was totally incompetent – “deer in the headlights” – and spent more time answering the phone than helping folks in line). I had hoped to be re-booked to Philadelphia on a flight (approximately two hours in the future) showing on my Delta App, but it departed before I could get to the front of the 10-12 person line. EVERY person that I saw with a Delta APP on their phone had the same experience when attempting to select alternate flights: “SORRY, you must contact a Delta Agent”. By the time I reached the agent, the flight I was attempting to be seated on had departed! Flight 836 had officially been canceled according to my App for 15 minutes, before the gate agents finally made the announcement to the angry masses. They also announced that “unfortunately” there were NO MORE Flights out of Honolulu to the mainland for June first. Somehow they immediately produced Vouchers for Transportation and Hotel for all of us with our names already printed on them, and somehow they also managed to put up 300 people in the same hotel (Really – 10 PM in June in Waikiki??). They also gave us an itinerary (again with our names pre-printed on it) for the same flight now scheduled for NEXT day at 4:00 PM (not the 3:35 PM original time, as (apparently) the next day’s Flight 836 would take THAT time slot. We were all stuck on the re-scheduled flight on the next day, 24 hours and 25 minutes after our original take off time. As I was (finally) at the front of the line when the announcement was made, I received my vouchers and instructions quickly, while close to three hundred angry passengers lining up behind me for the ultra-slow service (I would imagine many were there until 3 or 4 O’clock in the morning).

    I was given vouchers for ground transportation and a hotel room, but no meal voucher for a 24 hour (soon to become at least 28 hours) delay in one of the most expensive cities in the world. The current (May 1st 2014) GSA/DOD meal & incidental rate for Honolulu is $111/day. Instead, they brought out a bag of Wendy’s Dollar-Menu Hamburgers and Chicken Sandwiches, and we were each given ONE to hold us over for the 28 hour delay.

    I was told to go to baggage claim and exit to the street to find “SpeediShuttle” for my trip to the hotel. I lugged my bags to the SpeediShuttle pick up area and waited about 30 minutes as none of their buses would stop for me. I finally found the SpeediShuttle representative who told me SpeediShuttle would not accept my Delta Ground Transportation voucher. I used my phone to look up and to call the number for Delta Airlines at Honolulu and was connected to someone at Delta’s Salt Lake City, Utah office, who naturally couldn’t help me. I lugged all of my bags into the terminal and found a Delta person who made some calls and informed me they made a mistake upstairs and that the transportation agreement was with VIP Transportation, on the other end of Baggage Claim. Eventually I dragged all of my luggage to the new pick up point, and had to wait until all of the 21 seats on the bus were filled. I finally rode to the hotel with 20 other very unhappy customers. We were dropped off some 100 yards from the check in room and told that the bus would pick us up at 1:30 PM for the return trip to the airport. I got to my room and checked my Delta App to discover that the flight now was scheduled to depart at 8:00 PM and that my connection to PHL would now arrive in the late evening, causing me to miss a day and a half of work (instead of the one day I had regretfully “accepted” with a 24 hour delay). I called Delta to see if I could find a quicker route to PHL and spoke to Danielle in Cincinnati. She was VERY helpful and booked me on an American Airlines flight (leaving closer to the original time, at 4:45 PM, connecting to a US Airways flight in DFW, to arrive in Philadelphia near 11:00 AM). I thanked her, and then called US Airways to select my seats and was told by the US Airways agent that I was NOT in their system! My Delta App then updated with the new information and it now showed the new American/Us Airways flight information, BUT FOR THE WRONG DAY! Another phone call – including the very time consuming and very annoying recordings describing future surveys and requiring me to enter excessive information before I could speak to an agent – and I was finally booked on the correct flights for the CORRECT day. I then called USAIR to select my seats and was told that all Aisle Seats are PREMIUM or “Choice” seats, and to reserve an aisle for both legs would cost me over $100!
    I finally went to sleep at 4:00AM, believing all was under control. When I woke a few hours later, I looked up the number for VIP Transport (none was provided by Delta), and called to confirm my (Delta Voucher) ground transportation at 1:30 PM. I was told that Delta Airlines had CHANGED it to a 6:00 PM pick up, since the newly delayed re-booked Delta flight was now “hoping” to take off at 8:00 PM, if the part came in before then. The new bus time was AFTER my re-booked takeoff time, but he wouldn’t budge, saying he could only pick me up at 6:00 PM. I got him to call Delta who confirmed my NEW takeoff time, and they told him to tell me to “Take a cab” and then ask for reimbursement.
    When I checked out of the hotel and flagged down a taxi at about 1:30 PM there were several passengers waiting for the 1:30 PM bus we had been promised at drop off time. They had checked out of the hotel and were standing there with their bags waiting for the bus that would not come for another four and a half hours to take them to the airport for a (SURPRISE) 8:00 PM planned take off time. Unless they had a Delta App on their smart phone, they had no way of knowing about the NEW delay, or the NEW bus time. Delta apparently chose not to inform them, and effectively chose to inconvenience them again!
    I paid the taxi driver ($37.50 fare and $7.50 tip) to drop me off at the Delta counter. He gave me a machine-printed receipt totaling $45.00. I found the Delta agent, and relayed my telephone instructions to her, and she told me to wait. She returned with $37.50, telling me they would not pay for the tip. I said ‘thanks’ and headed to American Airlines for my new flight to DFW and PHL, which was uneventful (except that they lost my luggage until 3:30 AM the next morning, when they woke me up for turn by turn directions to my house, for delivery at 4:00 AM).
    Apparently my phone calls on the night of June 1, generated a Customer Service email apologizing for the inconvenience, and promising something called a $125 Delta Choice Award. I responded with a ‘thank you’, suggesting that I would “treasure it always as a reminder of this horrific experience where Delta Airlines knowingly LIED TO ME, and DELIBERATELY boarded me (and nearly 300 other suckers) onto a broken airplane to “hold us hostage” until all alternate means of transportation to the mainland had departed, to keep us as part of the next day’s revenue for Delta”. If they had told us that the aircraft was broken, I could have departed on the United Airlines flight to Washington Dulles (4:45 PM) with family members (who told me there were several empty seats), and made my meetings the next morning.
    Amazingly I had a “How did we do?” type survey in my inbox the next day. I marked EVERY category at the lowest level, and filled the comment block with the above story, and the ANGER of being DECEIVED, LIED TO, and INCONVENIENCED without compensation (come on – a Wendy’s Single?). When I hit “Submit”, a note explained that this was just a survey and that if I had a complaint to select another link. THAT brought me to a Customer Service Complaint Form, which I promptly filled out in detail. I asked for “someone to CONVINCE ME” why I should EVER fly again with an Airline that DELIBERATELY LIED to me. I asked why I shouldn’t spread this horror story of Delta’s DECEITFULNESS and no-doubt ILLEGAL activities through my network and every professional and social media organization, from Trip Advisor to LinkedIn and Facebook. I suggested that my son, who writes occasionally for the Washington Times might want to publish an article detailing his father’s experience with an untrustworthy airline, and asked them to convince me not to make that happen. So far (it has been since Wednesday, 4 June), I have received NO RESPONSE!
    A few days later, I called my sister to wish her a Happy Birthday and in the conversation, I relayed my ‘nightmare’ story to her. She detailed a NEARLY IDENTICAL experience in Chicago last year – boarding a broken airplane (with our handicapped sister in tow), pushing back from the gate, being “Held Hostage” for nearly four hours on the airplane, that coincidentally had no food on board, or ice for the room temperature glass of water served, until being released from the aircraft after all alternate means of transportation had departed.
    So, my questions are:
    1) “How many of you have had similar experiences?”
    2) “How do they (particularly Delta Airlines) get away with this practice?”
    3) “What recourse, if any, is there to recover actual expenses and lost wages and business costs experienced by them KNOWINGLY boarding passengers onto a broken airplane with no chance of (no plan for) departure?”

    I have an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, and I’ve been a professional pilot of large passenger aircraft for nearly forty years. I understand aircraft maintenance problems very well, but what I don’t understand is why an airline such as Delta, with a (formerly) good reputation, would sink to such lows to LIE TO and to DELIBERATELY INCONVENIENCE its passengers, when there is so much at stake. You often hear the captain announce: “Thank you for flying with us today. We realize you have a choice of airlines and are glad you have chosen to fly with us here at XXXX”, or something similar. Unless Delta responds with a REAL attempt to explain this to me, and to (as I asked in my complaint form) convince me why I should ever trust them enough to fly with them again, I will make that choice to fly with other carriers and relay my experience to anyone who will listen.

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