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Baggage Problems
COMPLAINT: Baggage delay kills once in a lifetime trip

 
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Old Oct 4, 2013, 11:43 PM
ppaquet ppaquet is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1

We just returned from what should have been a great business/vacation trip to Madrid and Belidorm Spain, but we struggled to get through all the difficulties related to the travel portion with Delta. I will start by stating that I have been a Delta member for over 13 years and use my AMEX DELTA Platinum credit card for all travel purposes. There were times I needed to change airline loyalties due to work travel that fell outside Delta corridors. However, I continue to support Delta whenever and wherever I can as I feel it to be one of the best of the worst airlines in America (an unfortunate stigma related to US airlines).
To begin, my ticket purchase experience for this trip (Conf Code# GRA7G7) was less than enjoyable. I purchased the ticket 08/23/2013 for $1,079.80 and then added $96.00 to be seated in Economy Comfort. The online portion of the purchase experience was not bad, but what followed was. After I purchased my ticket and selected my seats all on line (including Economy Comfort), I received an email stating that my seat selections were not confirmed. This had happened to me previously for other flights, and so I called Delta Customer Care for assistance. It was here that the experience began to unravel. It took me 20 minutes to get a live body on the phone, who then told me I needed to be transferred to another agent as the ticket was already purchased, and another 15 minutes before an agent could assist me. So, nothing achieved other than to get someone to help me on the line – 35 minutes and all on my cell phone. This person walked me through the process of selecting seats and felt I needed to be instructed as though I was a novice. I explained multiple times that I had already purchased Economy Comforts seats in the past and was fully aware of the process, but that did not deter the “instructor” and so I waited until the lesson was over before finally getting to the point of the call, simply to select the Economy Comfort seats I had already selected in the ticket purchase process. The seats were selected and the experience over. Total time – 1 hour and 5 minutes. Wow.

OK, now I have my ticket. A few weeks later, my wife (Cindy Cardinal) confirms that she can join me three days into the trip. So, I look at my SkyMiles account and believe I should have enough to get her there, as I had something like 116,000 miles and was only looking for an economy class ticket. I was wrong. I needed 130,000 miles and so I had to purchase another 14,000 miles which cost me $677.25. I could not believe it! It was over half the price I paid for my own ticket. And 130,000 miles for an economy class ticket to Europe?!? That’s insane! Regardless, I paid for the ticket (which cost me an additional $61.00 to process). Then, I purchased Economy Comfort seats for her before confirming the purchase as I did for myself. Another $96.00. As before, I received my confirmation of the purchase, but without the seat selection confirmation. So, I call Delta Customer Care for assistance. Another 15 minute wait before I get a live body on the phone, only to be told that since I purchased my ticket and now it was with points, I needed special assistance. Another 20 minutes pass before I get to an agent. She was friendly, but completely uniformed on the process. She explained that it was not possible to select a seat in Economy Comfort on line for a ticket purchased with cash or points when making a reservation. I explained that, in fact, it was possible, and that I had done this multiple times, only to be redirected to another site or customer service to get the seats confirmed. She debated with me continuously for reasons I cannot comprehend, until I finally asked her to move on to selecting the seats. By this time, we had been discussing for over 20 minutes. She makes the seat selection and the process is complete. Total time to purchase ticket, points and discuss with your customer service – 2 hours 15 minutes. Wow. And again, all on my cell phone.
So now, total time to purchase tickets is 3 hours and 20 minutes, 130,000 miles in points, $2,010.05 in out of pocket expenses and time on my cell phone. I think we can all agree that there would be room for improvement in this process…
On September 18th, I head to the airport to catch flight DL6340 from Rochester NY to JFK. My connection time at JFK to catch flight DL126 to Madrid is 1 hour 10 minutes. The check-in agent says we are on time. Fantastic! Luck is changing in my favor. I get through security and head to my gate, only to be told the flight is delayed. First they say 15 minutes and my connection time should be OK because the pilots fly faster in an attempt to make connections. Great, I think. That will work as long as I make the connection. 30 minutes later, the agent says the delay will be one hour due to mechanical. I will miss my connection at JFK. Now I am upset. I call Delta Customer Care for assistance again, and have to deal with another incompetent agent who proceeds to lecture me on acts of God out of their control and that there is nothing she can do other than to book me on another flight or code share. (Mechanical is not an act of God – weather is, but I digress). She struggled terribly to process the transaction for over 30 minutes! She had to re-start the process 3 different times due to errors she was making. I almost felt bad for her as she was struggling so hard to get it right. I finally asked her to pass me to a supervisor as she could not get anything done correctly and time was passing quickly without any confirmation that I would make a flight to Madrid that day. Although she frequently apologized, I should never have been put through that experience, especially in light of the time sensitive nature of my connection process. The supervisor comes on the line and after 15 more minutes of processing and calls, confirms she can get me on an Air Europa flight at 10:05pm. My biggest concern at this point is my checked luggage which held my display booth for a trade show I was exhibiting at the following day. The supervisor assures me that my luggage will automatically follow me regardless of the airline, and that I will have at least 2 hours and 30 minutes to make that connection. I ask if my Economy Comfort seat is confirmed, and he cannot confirm that, but that I need to go to the Air Europa gate at JFK where they will issue my seat on their airline before boarding.
I get to JFK at 7:38pm just as my original connecting flight (DL126) is taking off. The Air Europa is confirmed so there should not be any problem. I land at JFK terminal 4 and am told I need to get to terminal 2 where international flights depart. When I get to terminal 4 (which took 40 minutes from the time I disembarked flight DL6340 to the time I disembarked from the shuttle bus), the Delta bus agent states that I need to go to the Delta Customer Service desk I believe at B37. I walk the entire way which is unbelievably long (no moving sidewalks to be found anywhere) and the agent there gives me my new itinerary with instructions to go to the gate where Air Europa will issue my boarding pass…at gate A4 which is literally a mile away in the opposite direction. Crazy! I get to the gate in a sweat only to find no one is manning the counter, so I head to a local eatery to get dinner and some much needed water as I feel I have now run a marathon. I head back to the gate immediately after eating only to find a line of over 100 people had gathered with only 2 gate agents there to manage. When my turn finally arrives, I explain that I missed my connection with Delta126 and hand her my itinerary given to me by the Delta Customer Care center earlier. She looks and me and says there are no more seats available and that I was supposed to go outside security and to the Air Europa ticket counter to get a boarding pass. At this point, my patience has met its match. I almost completely lose my mind and begin vigorously telling them that both Delta and Air Europa confirmed I would be on this plane and all I needed was a seat assignment. She argued that Delta has no jurisdiction on Air Europa processing and that it is not her problem that I was misinformed by Delta (she said that this happened frequently!) and that I could not be issued a boarding pass. I demanded to see a supervisor at this point and believe this entire process was mishandled from the beginning by Delta and now by Air Europa. Within a few minutes, an Air Europa supervisor arrived (who could barely speak English I might add) to listen to my situation. She finally relented and allowed me the final seat on the plane seconds before the boarding door closed. I am on the plane at last, although not in an Economy Comfort seat…but at least I am on the plane. 6 hours or so later, we land in Madrid. The seat was uncomfortable and my neighbors were drinking so the flight was less than enjoyable, but I am in Madrid which is all that was important at that time…until it came time to retrieve my checked luggage. I waited at the carousel for over 1 hour only to finally realize my luggage had not followed me. Now I have a very serious problem as I needed that for a trade show I was exhibiting at the following day. There were no employees at the Delta luggage desk, no bilingual agents anywhere to be found and so I went to the Air Europa luggage desk (which took me 15 minutes to find) and without being able to communicate in Spanish, I managed to define what my situation was. They handed me a document for luggage tracing and said I would be contacted as soon as they located it. That ended up being 2 days later. As a result, I did not have my display booth for the first 2 days of the exhibition as well as my business attire and cannot begin to explain how embarrassing that was for my company. I finally received my luggage after 2 days which at least allowed my team and I to finish the show as professionally as we could. I do not know if this damaged our image to the target audience we were exhibiting to, as language barriers are always difficult to completely overcome and understand. First impressions are often lasting impressions.
On Saturday, it was my wife’s turn to experience Delta. She was flying out of Raleigh/Durham (RDU) to connect with flight DL126 as I did the previous Wednesday (Conf Code# GSTDDG) in Madrid. Fortunately for her, she had more time to make her connection than I had out of Rochester NY (ROC). But again, that was not the case. Her flight out of RDU was delayed for mechanical, and then additionally delayed due to traffic. I called Delta to assure she would make her connection and was told she probably would not. I explained in brief detail who I was and the experience I just had with them 3 days earlier. The agent apologized and assured me a repeat experience would not happen. She immediately booked my wife on Air Europa (the same flight I was on Wednesday night at 10:05pm to Madrid) and told me there would be no problem in her making that connection. When Cindy landed at JFK from RDU, she called me and I walked her through the process I had gone through to make sure she would have a confirmed seat on the plane. She went out of security (even if Delta restated she didn’t have to) to get her boarding pass and provide Air Europa with her luggage ticket number to assure it would be on that plane. She went back through security and waited patiently at the gate. She did not get an Economy Comfort seat as they are not available, but did not complain about the flight. When she landed in Madrid, she waited 1 hour and 30 minutes for her luggage, which never arrived. And her cell phone did not work either, so after all that time I requested to have access to the luggage area where I found her in tears. No one there spoke any English and she was unable to figure out where to go for luggage declaration. I took her to the small Air Europa desk and we completed the forms needed to trace her luggage. The troubling part was that they could not locate it, different from my situation where my luggage was known to still be at JFK. The problem this created was significant as we were traveling to Benidorm the next morning which is 300 miles away. Needless to say, the luggage did not arrive and so she used what little clothes she had and purchased some clothes in the interim until her luggage finally arrived 4 days later. I called Delta and they stated that her luggage was no longer their responsibility, but that of Air Europa. I was incensed that they would make that statement! How could it not be Delta’s responsibility?! It was Delta who caused all of this to happen, not Air Europa. I understand that once the transaction between Delta and Air Europa occurs on a ticket transfer, that Air Europa now becomes the carrier of responsibility,…, but to say that Delta has no responsibility at all is criminal!
I could add more. For example, flying into JFK on an international flight where one needs to make a domestic connection, is an absolute travesty! We went through 3 security checks at Madrid International Airport, then we went through 4 different security stations at JFK, including the fact that we were told to leave the secure area in order to go through security yet again as though we were a new passenger just arriving at the airport. This is the best DELTA can do? I was told it, again, was not the responsibility of Delta, but in this case the responsibility of JFK. Wow! Can Delta ever take responsibility for anything? Are you telling me that it was JFK who forced Delta to open a HUB there? Why do we not have to go through outside security in Detroit? Or Atlanta? Aren’t those Delta HUBs as well for international flights? So, from landing at JFK to reaching my gate to connect to Rochester NY, the time was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Nice. And then to pour salt on the wound, my flight to Rochester was delayed 1 hour due to, you guessed it, mechanical.

And there is still more,…, but I have literally given myself carpel tunnel syndrome from writing this complaint. I would so much have rather being writing a glowing review. What a trip.
I don’t know if there is an official definition for “nightmare”, but I believe this whole experience would qualify as one. As a result, I formally request: (1) That my SkyMiles account be fully reinstated for Cindy’s ticket I purchased using miles (130,000 miles), as well as the $61.00 processing fee; (2) That the $677.25 I paid to purchase the additional 14,000 miles needed to buy Cindy’s ticket, be fully refunded to my AMEX Delta credit card; (3) That the 2 charges of $96.00 for the purchase of Economy Comfort seats be fully refunded to my AMEX Delta credit card; (4) That Delta refund me for the clothing and expenses for my wife when her luggage was 4 days late ($200); (5) That DELTA Airlines award me with 2 First Class tickets for my wife and I to fly anywhere in Europe Delta services as a result of the pain, suffering and embarrassment you have forced us to endure; and (6) An official apology from Delta for this entire experience. I am an executive VP in a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway and believe it to be in the best interests of DELTA Airlines to respond in the affirmative as I described above in order to avoid any further actions on my part.
Delta came back with 2 $200 vouchers and a refund of the $61 fee for booking, and say this is as far as they can go. I am more than disappointed in their response and feel we as passengers have no recourse for unacceptable service. If Delta were selling merchandise, and it fell short of the "promise of serviceability", they would be refunding me. I will continue pushing this event to public circles until I feel Delta has responded in a responsible manner.
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Old Oct 5, 2013, 12:17 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Your compo request is unreasonable, but Delta treated you very poorly. By over egging the pudding, I think you have undermined your case. The value of your compo claim would exceed 10,000 dollars. I think a reasonable claim would be refund in cash for the economy plus upgrade, plus voucher to the value of maybe 500 dollars, plus 200 dollars for clothing.
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