Frustrated with Delta

March 17, 2009

Featured, People

I woke up at 3:45 this morning so that I could catch a 7:10am flight out of Boston to San Diego. By 5:45, I was third in line to go through security. Thirty minutes later, thanks to the snail’s pace at which the TSA officers were moving and the dozens of people they let cut in front of me, I finally made it to my gate.

People started boarding on schedule, but since I was in zone 7 (of 7), I had to wait. By the time zone 5 had boarded, a delay of 35 minutes was announced and they stopped boarding. Since my layover in Atlanta was only 40 minutes, I was pretty sure I’d miss it so I went to the counter to get an alternative itinerary.

Little did I know that getting from Boston to San Diego on Delta is about as difficult as open-heart surgery. There were no good alternatives, except me waiting in Atlanta for about 4 hours. While the Delta agent was tapping away on her keyboard, barely acknowledging my existence, I went to delta.com on my iPhone and searched for flights from Boston to San Diego. The very first thing that came up was what appeared to be a direct flight leaving at 8:00am (it was now just after 7:00). When I showed this to the Delta agent, she said that it was actually a NorthWest flight. I pointed out that it comes up as a result on their website, so couldn’t she put me on that flight anyway? Oh yes, she said. The only problem would be that my checked luggage would not be on the same flight, so I’d need to figure that out in San Diego. That was fine with me, as long as I could still get there at a reasonable time.

The Delta agent called NorthWest to ask if they had any room on flight 187. They said they did! I was excited at this point because not only would I get to San Diego almost on time, I’d also be on a direct flight. After a few more minutes of tapping (I can only guess that she was trying to book me a ticket), the Delta agent had to ask one of her coworkers for help because she couldn’t book me onto that flight for some reason. After some fiddling, the second agent handed me the printout with my new itinerary and gave me directions for getting to the NorthWest terminal. This involved going up and down several flights of stairs, walking through baggage claim, taking a bus, going up and down several more flights of stairs, and then going through security again (as the cherry on top). I had 40 minutes before the flight departed. I grabbed the printout and ran as fast as I could. I felt like Charlie when he found the Golden Ticket.

I made it to the NorthWest terminal in only 15 minutes. Thankfully, the line for security was almost non-existent so it took no time at all before I got to the TSA guy who checks IDs. He took the printout I got at Delta and said “That’s not a ticket. Where’s your ticket?” I said that was all I had. He told me to go back to ticketing and get an actual ticket. I ran over to the ticket counter and handed them my pass. After some tapping at the keyboard, the NorthWest agent called over her supervisor. Clearly there was something wrong. There was 20 minutes before flight departure at this point.

Five minutes later, the NorthWest supervisor explained to me that the Delta agent hadn’t actually booked me a ticket for the flight to San Diego and, in fact, that flight was already over-booked by 6 people. Flight 187 was not actually a direct flight from Boston to San Diego. It went to Minneapolis first, then continued to San Diego from there. So when the Delta agent called and asked if there was room on flight 187, she was told “yes” because there was room on the Boston-to-Minneapolis leg, but not on the Minneapolis-to-San Diego leg of the trip. I didn’t know if I should scream or cry. A) Why didn’t the NorthWest agent ask the Delta agent to clarify which flight 187 she was asking about? and B) How could the Delta agent send me on this wild goose chase without even having issued me a ticket?!

In the end, the NorthWest agent put me on stand-by for flight 187 and also booked me onto a later flight that would have me waiting 3 hours in Boston, 4 more hours in Minneapolis, and get me to San Diego at 7:00pm (my original plan got me there at 12:40pm). It was already 7:50 so I bolted through security and ran to the gate in my socks because I didn’t have time to put my shoes back on. When I got to the gate, it was already closed down.

What frustrates me is how much airlines get away with. They sent me running around only to have me end up on the worst option possible without so much as an apology. I’ll get to San Diego eventually, but by then I will have spent 15 hours getting there. Why is this still acceptable? Why aren’t airlines more like JetBlue that actually treats its customers as people? Maybe that is too much to ask for.


UPDATE: I got a response from Delta’s customer service. You can read it here: Delta’s response.

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About Natasha Lloyd

Natasha is a professional train rider, an amateur photographer, an avid kayak paddler, a long-time cartoon watcher, and an Interaction Designer at SAP BusinessObjects. She currently lives in Massachusetts, on the outer outskirts of Boston.

View all posts by Natasha Lloyd

4 Responses to “Frustrated with Delta”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Their license to inconvenience is extraordinary. Your poor treatment was relentless 🙁

    In order to bring change, a quiet riot is required. I’m just saying… The passengers, united, will never be defeated!

  2. Rebecca Says:

    Horror story. Just a complete horror story. They should be subjected to the treatment they dish out to others, but I suspect they all fly free in those little jump seats.

    I only fly Southwest for this reason. I only fly in and out of airports that Southwest services. If they don’t go, I don’t either. I’ve never had SW do this to me (although I am waiting for it). SW is flying (or will soon fly) to Logan. The downside to them is the hopping in and out of regional airports. No direct flights across the country.

    The boarding process has improved on SW enormously since they added “board by the # on your ticket, moran,” but free seating inside. It used to be a horrendous crush at the gate. Now the important piece is to check-in online EXACTLY 12 hours ahead of your flight. If you do that, it’s pretty seamless. Or that has been my experience anyway.

    We fly Reno to Manchester every year to see hubby’s family. Probably won’t go thru Logan because hubby hates driving in Boston.

    Go through Midway. The food is excellent.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Delta’s response | Opinion Road - May 9, 2009

    […] couple months ago, I wrote here about my horrible experience with Delta when trying to get from Boston to San Diego. At the time, I also sent my story to Delta’s […]

  2. natasha’s corner » Blog Archive » Frustrated with Delta - May 9, 2009

    […] Read my Delta horror story here. Posted by Natasha Lloyd Filed in Great Mysteries, Thoughts […]

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