Th.Oughts : The Delta Nightmare

My weekends usually go hibernating copious hours, catching up on lkml, cooking good food, watching a good movie or anything that doesn't make me drive for long hours or take a long flight (well, I used to drive to NYC over the weekends but that was out of sheer necessity).

Since my fiancee moved to DC, I persuaded her to do all the traveling while I do the "not very difficult job" of doing nothing. That(persuasion), as everyone knows, is not very easy! So, finally, I decided to give her a break and got myself a round trip shuttle to DC for the (last) weekend. Now, everyone has their airline horror stories and I tend to take them very seriously. Delta Airlines, fortunately is rarely a part of these stories and I was happy that I was flying with them. And so, with a smile on my face, I took a cab to the Logan airport. Everything was as expected: I had my usual dose of a 3 hour departure delay from Boston. And just like the buses at South Station, I actually saw that the Delta flights were on ground so that they could be filled up with passengers! This may be outright common or may be there was a genuine reason flights were getting delayed but at that moment, nothing seemed like it could be the reason. Finally, my flight took off (and landed in DC) and I was having a good time until Sunday happened.

That was the day I took the DC metro to Vienna (suburbs) and had a really terrible motion sickness. My flight back to Boston was on Monday morning and I was optimistic that I would feel better by that time but my body didn't really care for my optimism. It was Monday morning at 8 am, and I had nausea, dizziness and everything unpleasant. That's when the Delta horror story started. Seeing that I was not in a very good shape to fly, my fiancee called up the Delta customer service asking what it would take to reschedule my flight to Tuesday. She was told that we had to pay a $150 rescheduling fee which was probably fine but at that time it looked like too much for a "little less than" $200 fare. We gave up; still optimistic that I would magically feel better. An hour passed and things were still the same. So, we decided to make the final call and reschedule to Tuesday. Honestly, we still had our doubts that we wouldn't have to pay the difference in fare (which was $650 on Monday for a Tuesday flight!) and so to make sure we know what we are getting into, my fiancee explicitly asked : "Are there any other fees involved that we should know about ?" The answer she received was " No ma'am, you only have to pay a $150 fee rescheduling fee". My fiancee thought that we could probably save a bit more considering the fact that I am actually ill and so wished to talk to the supervisor to ask for a reduction in the rescheduling fee. After explaining the whole story to the supervisor again, what we heard from her completely bowled us over. The supervisor said "We do have to pay the rescheduling fee and also have to pay the difference in fare!" And when we confronted her saying that we spoke to two customer reps minutes before her who told us that there was no other fees involved, she didn't really care; in fact, she didn't even offer an apology. All she could offer us were statements like : "The system wouldn't allow such a transaction" or " the customer rep didn't mention anything like that". At this point, my fiancee was furious and I realized it's probably best to end the call as it was going nowhere! We disconnected the call, and I tried my best to feel better(somehow) and finally took the flight. I actually wanted to feel worse so that I could throw up inside the aircraft but later realized that would be too evil of me and discomfort to fellow passengers. Again, as usual, the flight from DC was late by an hour because of some lame reason, the flight itself was very uncomfortable : my nausea was bad to the extent of being painful and I somehow passed one hour and 12 minutes and finally reached Boston.

So, what exactly am I whining about ? We spoke to two customer service reps who had no idea that we had to pay the difference in fare along with the rescheduling fee. Does that mean they were irresponsible ? No, that means that Delta doesn't give a damn about customer service (and so is the case with any other airline). Once the ticket is sold, their liability becomes zero. And the way the supervisor handled the misinformation provided by the reps just shows how serious they are about the whole thing. And Delta, this is what I have to say to you : I will probably fly with you again; because I would have no other option or I would get a really good deal but you really need to pick a role model for yourself and learn what customer service is all about. Here's one for a start.


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