Canceled / Delayed / Overbooked
COMPLAINT: Held hostage for 20 hours - 25 hours from LHR to JFK

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Old Aug 8, 2008, 5:01 PM
Frequenttraveller Frequenttraveller is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1

Below is a letter I sent to Delta about a recent 25 hour experience flying between LHR and JFK. For the first 20 hours we were not permitted to leave the plane. Indeed we were told we would be thrown in jail if anyone attempted to leave the plane because we had not cleared customs and were technically not citizens, however they had no reasonable plan for how we could get off the plane. Delta gave us 400 Delta dollars to compensate us.

Their reponse is too poor for words. Basically tough luck travel is a difficult business.

Reposnse from Delta

Thank you for your e-mail describing the inconvenience you experienced
due to flight irregularities. We apologize for the difficulties you

Your time is valuable, and operating on schedule is equally important to
us. In the process of providing air service over many different routes
each day, we sometimes encounter mechanical problems, adverse weather,
crew delay, and other unavoidable interruptions. These are situations
faced by all airlines and no carrier can guarantee that all flights will
depart and arrive as planned. We?re sorry you were inconvenienced.

We regret any inconvenience you experienced due to an unscheduled flight
diversion. When your flight was dispatched, we expected it would be able
to land at the destination as scheduled. Unfortunately, conditions
changed and it was necessary for the flight to divert to another city to
ensure the safety of all onboard.

Our flight attendants are expected to always be responsive and offer
accurate, thorough information and assistance. Our goal is to make sure
your flight is enjoyable, and training is provided to our employees to
ensure a consistent and pleasant travel experience. We regret you were
disappointed with the service you received.

Considerable importance is placed on offering the highest possible
standard of service to our customers traveling in first or business
class. We try to provide maximum comfort in seat and cabin design.
Additionally, our flight attendants are expected to give more personal
attention to each individual. We certainly want to make traveling in one
of our premium cabins an enjoyable and relaxing experience, and it is
unfortunate you were disappointed.

Our goal is to make your travel experience as smooth and enjoyable as
possible, and we regret you didn?t receive the high level of service we
strive to provide. Our airport representatives are expected to always be
responsive, and offer precise, complete information. It sounds like that
didn?t happen in this case, and we will continue to make efforts to
improve in this area.

Delta uses many factors to determine compensation for our passengers who
have been inconvenienced through no fault of their own. Our information
indicates you received the compensation we normally provide in
circumstances of this kind. Consequently, we must respectfully decline
your request.

Dr. Brush, thank you again for giving us an opportunity to respond to
your concern. We very much appreciate your Medallion loyalty to Delta
and look forward to the privilege of serving you again soon.


Nick M. Reeves
Customer Care

Original Message Follows:


August 3, 2008

Dear Delta,

Cannot tell you how disappointed I am with the way flight 4 on August 1
(moving to include August 2nd) has been mismanaged. Since we made the
news, you may have heard about the 24 hour journey between LHR and JFK
with an uninterrupted 20 hours of aircraft confinement at one point
(between 7:45 am GMT or 2:45 am ET and 10PM ET, with a stay at Boston
Logan until 2 am on 8/2 and ultimately arriving around 3:30 am into

Let me summarize the highlights:
3 mechanical problems
3 crew changes (2x with unavailable crews)
1 weather delay
2 refueling
1 diversion

It seemed to start out bad. We sat for three hours (8:45 to 11:45 GMT)
on the tarmac at Heathrow (not including boarding time) awaiting repair
of a mechanical problem and were offered nothing other than the
complimentary drink in business tarmac until 7pm ET (elapsed time
excluding boarding 15.5 hours) waiting for a new crew to arrive and
also food and drink which we had run out of hours earlier except for
some left over bread from the business class breakfast and some ad hoc
chips and a few odd chocolates that had been rescued from the lunch tray
(some five hours earlier). We received very little communication from
Delta except that we were not able to disembark because Boston could not
allow us to clear customs. Around 7pm our second crew arrived and we
moved to the runway and sat for an hour again without communication.
Meanwhile I had contacted my elderly parents and asked them to travel
out from eastern Long Island to pick me up, because public
transportation was no longer a reasonable option and taxis are cost
prohibitive for a journey that long. At 8 pm (16.6 hours on the plane
elapsed excluding boarding) we were told there was another mechanical
delay and we were going back to the gate. The pilot of the second crew
(the one who was very informative) said he was going to ask that the
flight be cancelled, however we later learned that it would not be
cancelled. I called my parents to abort the one way 75 mile journey
(which would be 125 round trip because they were nearly at JFK) from
eastern Long Island, that they could have avoided if Delta had been
honest with us as to why we were still sitting on the tarmac (another
mechanical problem). I also apologized for not being able to see them. I
had purchased a separate ticket from JFK to SFO because I was stopping
in New York to see my father who has a terminal illness, before
returning to SFO. However with the 16 hour flight delay it no longer
made any sense to head to Long Island for a visit that would not be more
than 7 hours including time to sleep, so I lost a trip to New York on
top of the absurdity of a 16 hour delay .

We continued to sit on the tarmac told that the plane would be fixed in
about an hour. They were waiting on a part. We were getting use to Delta
saying something would be done soon or in an hour and nothing happening
for hours. The joke became that to Delta all time is flexible. We were
told during this wait that the plane had actually experienced another
mechanical/electrical failure while we were flying over the Atlantic. At
this point, three mechanical/electrical failures later, we were not
really interested in staying on this plane. None of that seemed to
matter. Delta seemed hell bent on getting that plane to New York with
the passengers. Finally at around 10 pm (19 hours elapsed time
excluding boarding) we were told that we would be allowed off the plane
to clear customs but we were to head back through security and over to
gate A3 where there would be provisions and we would be departing within
the hour.

I was the first one to return through Security, following Customs. They
had no knowledge of the diverted Delta flight and couldnít imagine how I
thought I could get through security with a boarding pass from LHR to
JFK. I walked them through what was going on and they promptly verified
it. (Shouldnít Delta have done this?). After 30 minutes in the
international terminal (E) at gate EA3 and not seeing anyone from Delta
I called the 800 Delta number. They told me I was in the wrong terminal
and I needed to go to the A terminal and Gate 6. I ran over to this
terminal. When I got to security the TSA person told me there were no
more flight leaving from this terminal tonight. I went to the Delta
counter who called a friend that informed us that I needed to go to
Gate EB6. So I ran back. (Itís a good 1/2 mile between these
terminals.) I got to EB6 and found that there were no provisions, no
Delta agents and no notification of our flight. Indeed there was no one
from Delta until around 12:30, when one fight attendant and someone else
arrived with some pizzas, but still we had not one communication about
what was going on. From time to time one of us would call Delta who
would provide us with the erroneous information of the hour. At 12:30 I
asked the lone flight attendant when we were leaving and she said that
they only had half a crew and further the plane had still not been
cleaned. Great we are now going to have an additional delay because the
plane hasnít been cleaned yet. We started boarding the plane around
1:30. It took a very long time because the agents were checking our
names off on a paper manifest. We finally arrived into JFK at 3:30 am
and were ushered to the fully manned Delta desk. I was fortunate to be
in the front of the plane. It took about 20 minutes for them to issue me
a few vouchers (none of the agents had instruction on how to create the
Delta dollars voucher) and to give me my rebooking. I got to the hotel
at 4:30 am in time to take a shower and change and head back to the
airport, since I would no longer be visiting in NY.

So I spent 24 hours of pure misery and experiencing the apex of
incompetence and missing a treasured visit to see my parents. The
compensation you offered was $400 in travel vouchers, not even enough to compensate for the lost ticket to New York.

As several of your employees said during this ordeal, we arenít proud of
how Delta had treated you throughout this ordeal. You may want to
consider offering an apology that more fairly represents this incredibly
botched performance, not too mentioned in my case a completely missed
stay. This one has left a long and lasting bad taste for how Delta feels
about their passengers.
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Old Aug 19, 2009, 6:02 PM
GlobalFlyer GlobalFlyer is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2

I would suggest you look into the EU regulations that exist. EU Regulation (EC) 261/2004 exists and protects passengers from delayed/cancelled flights from EU airports.

Please look at:

They may be able to help since you were delayed by more than a day to get to your final destination, even if you had to stop along the way. At the end of the day it wasn't a new flight, that flight number originated from LHR within the EU and was mean't to be non-stop to JFK.

Suggest you look into legal advice too. That is unbelievable that you were stuck on that flight for so long, I feel so much empathy especially for the people stuck in Economy class!
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Old Aug 19, 2009, 6:48 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

I hope you will not continue to use Delta after this experience and their outrageous response to you. I was also abandoned by Delta many years ago.. their attitude to customers is a disgrace.
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