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View Full Version : This goes WAY beyond bumping!


stevenshepherd
11-10-2008, 12:23 AM
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On November 5th 2008, I was scheduled to depart San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale on Flight number 1074. Upon my arrival at the gate, the gate agent asked for any volunteers to give up their seat. I observed a family in which only 3 of the 4 parties had seat assignments. The other party was flying standby. I decided to volunteer my seat so the family could travel together.

I received compensation of $400 in “Delta Dollars” and provided a hotel stay, and booking on a flight the following morning.

I left San Francisco on November 6th, 2008 on flight number 1066 with connecting service via Atlanta which had a scheduled arrival time of 4:26pm. The actual landing time was 4:03PM. After departing the plane, which was quick since I was right across from the door, I immediately went to the connecting flight Gate which was gate A1 stopping only to wash my face in the restroom.

When I arrived at the gate, I waited in a long (14-16 person) queue to obtain a seat assignment. I learned that the flight was way oversold. The gate agent, later to be identified as Shirley Ruffin, asked for volunteers. I observed as one gentlemen inquired, however he decided not to give up his seat. Ms. Ruffin went through the boarding procedure and asked that all ticketed passengers with assigned seats board the plane. While this was taking place, Ms. Ruffin (who was the sole employee at the gate) was inundated with at least 6-8 people with both confirmed and layover status. Ms. Ruffin became very frustrated and stated “I’m only one person. I need to get the ticketed passengers on the plane first.”. After this took place, Ms. Ruffin asked for the 12-14 people looking to fly standby to line up on the left and those passengers, which included me, who had a confirmed ticket to line up on the right. I was approximately 12th out of 14 people in the “confirmed” line. Unfortunately, there were no available seats on the plane when I reached the front of the line.

While there were several people remaining as “layover requests”, there were 2 other individuals, a young couple who were in the same position I was in and that was with confirmed tickets. There was also one gentleman who had an assigned seat but was late to the gate. Ms. Ruffin advised the persons who were waiting as layover’s, that they were automatically placed as such as the next flight and asked the remainder of us to wait until she returned.

Approximately 20 minutes later, Ms. Ruffin returned and asked to see my ticket. Ms. Ruffin asked for my home address and provided me with a meal voucher (exhibit “A”) and told me that the next flight was also oversold, but that I was marked as confirmed. Previous to this, while everyone was awaiting Ms. Ruffin’s return, I overheard the gentleman behind me speaking with Delta customer care. From his conversation it was obvious that the next 2 flights to Ft. Lauderdale were overbooked by 8-12 people.

Ms. Ruffin attempted to get me an actual assigned seat on the next flight but was unable to do so, but suggested I go to the service desk across from “A14” to see if they could assist me.
Upon my arrival at the service desk, I was greeted by an agent named “B.A. Redd”. Ms. Redd confirmed the conversation I overheard back at the gate, that the next 2 flights were overbooked.

I inquired as to the compensation due to the fact that I was denied boarding. Ms. Redd told me I would need to return to the gate to speak to the gate agent about compensation. At this point, I had been standing up for over 1 hour and asked to speak to a supervisor. An agent, sitting next to Ms. Redd whose name was Nicole Pearson came into the conversation, and checked the computer herself for any available seats. I asked again to speak to a supervisor, and was rudely told by Ms. Pearson: “There is nothing more we can do for you, if you want to speak to someone, pick up the phone and that will call customer service”. I did so, and explained the situation to customer service who asked me to return to the service desk and ask for a floor supervisor.

Ms. Redd contacted a floor supervisor, by the name of Maurice Miller. After a lengthy wait of 20-30 minutes, Mr. Miller arrived and I explained the situation to him. Mr. Miller apologized for the inconvenience and was doing some math at the computer to determine the compensation amount. I don’t know what the exact figure was that he came up with, but it was less than it should have been. I pointed out the DOT regulation that was printed regarding compensation. Mr. Miller paused for a moment and stated something to the affect of “It looks like you are right, just let me make sure”. After another 15-20 minute wait, Mr. Miller returned, apologized for yet another delay and stated that I was correct. Unfortunately, Mr. Miller printed out a $400 coupon for “Delta Dollars”. I informed Mr. Miller that I would not accept this form of compensation as I was denied boarding and as per regulation, I was eligible for check payment.

It took yet another 15-20 minutes for Mr. Miller to figure out how to void the voucher and to locate a check to print on. During his absence, I realized that even if I were to get on the next available flight, that it would arrive later than 2 hours beyond my scheduled arrival time and that per DOT regulation, the compensation should have been doubled to $800. Upon his return, I showed him this stipulation and he became very agitated and stated “The four hundred dollars is the amount of the compensation. You don’t know what you are talking about”. I took a pen and underlined what I was referring to, read it to him and after reading it continued to claim that I was incorrect.

I asked to speak to his supervisor. 15 minutes later, she arrived. Unfortunately I did not get her name, but later learned that her first name was “Shirley”. I explained the situation once again, and she read what I was reading (shouldn’t employees, especially supervisor’s already know the regulations?) and after a few moments she stated something to the effect of “Ohhh, I see. You are right, it should be doubled”. The supervisor apologized and stated she would return in a moment.

Approximately 20 minutes later (This is now approaching 3 hours of standing at the service desk), the initial supervisor, Maurice came out and stated something to the effect of “Mr. Shepherd, you will not be compensated one cent. You missed your connecting flight and now you are coming up here to extort money from us and it isn’t going to happen”. My jaw dropped as I could not believe what I was hearing! I told him that I did not miss my connection, that I was denied boarding due to the flight being full and asked that he contact the original gate agent (Ms. Ruffin) who could verify this. Mr. Miller stated something to the effect of “No, you’ve already wasted enough of my time. I’m asking you to leave”. I showed Mr. Miller the meal voucher that was provided to me by Ms. Ruffin and stated that if I missed the flight, why would Ms. Ruffin provide me the meal voucher and send me down here for further assistance. Mr. Miller became agitated, pointed his finger at me and stated “I told you, I am done with you”. Mr. Miller then proceeded to contact the Atlanta Police.

When the officer arrived, Mr. Miller once again falsely accused me of trying to extort money from the airline for a missed connection. Neither the officer or Mr. Miller would allow me to speak at this point. I tried explaining to the officer that he was incorrect, showing proof of the boarding denial and the officer asked that I just take it up with Delta customer service. I agreed to do so and the officer asked if I had another flight taken care of. Mr. Miller produced a boarding pass for flight number 871 (exhibit “B”).

I asked Mr. Miller who his supervisor was, the one that was helping me and he stated “Shirley”. I asked for her last name and he stated that “I am not authorized to provide you her last name”. I stated it was on the name tag, that I needed it to file a complaint. Mr. Miller stated “You have all you need…now just go”.

After over 3 hours of standing, speaking to employees and supervisors who did not know the regulations as they should, and treated very rudely until it was finally made clear that I was entitled to $800 compensation as per DOT regulations, and then for Mr. Miller to implicate me twice, in front of his peers and then in front of the police that I was trying to extort money made me understandably upset. I told Mr. Miller that I would “see him in court”. Mr. Miller became angry and stated something to the effect of “I don’t respond well to idle threats. You know what, I am banning you from flying tonight. Get off of my concourse”. The officer (Officer Turner, Atlanta PD. Badge #5597) asked me to follow him. I inquired as to how he, Mr. Miller could do this and he stated “You are on private property and they can ask anyone to leave at anytime”.

The officer dropped me off at the main terminal, where I had to purchase a ticket to Ft. Lauderdale on AirTran in the amount of $183.50 (exhibit “C”).

Not only were the DOT regulations violated regarding compensation, but I was also subjected to standing up for over 3 hours straight and worse yet, slanderous statements were uttered twice by Mr. Miller.

airhead
11-10-2008, 03:54 AM
If I were you I would file a formal complaint to the DOT.

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm
The matter should be investigated and maybe that should elicit a response from Delta with proper compensation. If not, I would certainly pursue legal action.

I am curious about why the agent in San Francisco did not confirm a seat assignment upon taking you as a volunteer. Good luck to you.

jimworcs
11-10-2008, 10:07 AM
Please pursue the law, but also can you please copy this to your congressman. The airline industry needs re-regulating and until this is done their employees will continue to behave with a total dis-regard for their customers and the in this case, the law. Your write up is very compelling and comes across very credibly. I hope you will pursue this matter and let us know the outcome.

stevenshepherd
11-10-2008, 11:58 AM
Thanks for the link. I've already written to the DOT. I too question why I did not get an actual assigned seat previously. I'll post any updates.

It's a shame I have $400 "delta dollars" that will go unused. It will be a cold day in he** before I fly them again.

If I were you I would file a formal complaint to the DOT.

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm
The matter should be investigated and maybe that should elicit a response from Delta with proper compensation. If not, I would certainly pursue legal action.

I am curious about why the agent in San Francisco did not confirm a seat assignment upon taking you as a volunteer. Good luck to you.

Silent Bob
11-10-2008, 02:57 PM
You should definitely persue the matter, but remember you are not entitled to 800 dollars, as per DOT rules (taken from the DOT website: ***Passengers who are eligible for denied boarding compensation must be offered a payment equal to their one-way fare to their destination (including connecting flights) or first stopover of four hours or longer, with a $400 maximum. However, if the airline cannot arrange “alternate transportation” (see below) for the passenger, the compensation is doubled ($800 maximum). The fare upon which the compensation is based shall include any surcharge and air transportation tax.***) so in short you are entitled "MAXIMUM" 400, because they gave you a ticket for the next flight, before uhmmm being escorted off the premesis. It could be that once they tallied your total it didn't come to you getting 800 based on their rules of overbooking. On Delta's contract it states (to paraphrase) that if they have alternative flights compensation will be equal to 100% of the fare, no more than 400 dollars (they gave you a ticket). If no alternative, it's 200% no more than 800. You might want to try talking to a Delta rep, and before jumping into the 800 dollars what's owed, you should ask them to calculate and explain as they go along, which is what they failed to do at the service counter. They just calculated and said "nope, no 800 dollars. Security get him outta here." Also forum member abutter might be able to further explain/assist on the matter as well.

stevenshepherd
11-10-2008, 10:01 PM
Actually, the ticket that I received before being "escorted out" was for a flight that departed @ ~950 PM, which would have put me at my destination much more than 2 hours than originally scheduled.

You should definitely persue the matter, but remember you are not entitled to 800 dollars, as per DOT rules (taken from the DOT website: ***Passengers who are eligible for denied boarding compensation must be offered a payment equal to their one-way fare to their destination (including connecting flights) or first stopover of four hours or longer, with a $400 maximum. However, if the airline cannot arrange “alternate transportation” (see below) for the passenger, the compensation is doubled ($800 maximum). The fare upon which the compensation is based shall include any surcharge and air transportation tax.***) so in short you are entitled "MAXIMUM" 400, because they gave you a ticket for the next flight, before uhmmm being escorted off the premesis. It could be that once they tallied your total it didn't come to you getting 800 based on their rules of overbooking. On Delta's contract it states (to paraphrase) that if they have alternative flights compensation will be equal to 100% of the fare, no more than 400 dollars (they gave you a ticket). If no alternative, it's 200% no more than 800. You might want to try talking to a Delta rep, and before jumping into the 800 dollars what's owed, you should ask them to calculate and explain as they go along, which is what they failed to do at the service counter. They just calculated and said "nope, no 800 dollars. Security get him outta here." Also forum member abutter might be able to further explain/assist on the matter as well.

stevenshepherd
11-20-2008, 05:35 PM
****UPDATE****

I submitted a complaint to the DOT, to Delta (via WebSite and certified mail), and received a call from a Delta representative (from the complaint via DOT). The representative apologized for what took place and stated "I cannot go into details, but I can assure you that Mr. Miller will not act inappropriately any longer".

The representative stated that she researched the flight and passenger information and stated that it was clear that I did NOT miss my connecting flight, and thereby WAS eligible for "double" compensation because they could not get me to my final destination within 2 hours of the originally scheduled time.

The representative stated that I would also be reimbursed for my ATA ticket and that I should receive a check for $983.50 within 7-10 business days. So, "The checks in the mail".

freddiecm
11-20-2008, 11:13 PM
i think thats what you wanted in the first place.there a lots of people who do what you just did.Thats why it went a far as you getting kick out of the terminal.

jimworcs
11-23-2008, 10:31 PM
It is good to see that when pursued properly, something can happen. It will be interesting to see how many of the people who posted on here suggesting that you were in the wrong are now willing to accept that sometimes... just sometimes... the customer is right and the airline staff are totally wrong!

As for freddiecmi "think thats what you wanted in the first place.there a lots of people who do what you just did.Thats why it went a far as you getting kick out of the terminal."

What does this mean? What he wanted was to get to his destination in a timely manner, without being abused by airline staff who totally misused their power. Compensation was due because of the failings of the airline...