Saturday, August 6, 2011

Delta Downer

It began with an email at 5:00 AM.

"Your 9:45 AM Delta flight has been cancelled."

Ok, I thought, not a big deal - I'm confirmed for the later one. And for the connecting one after that. All's good.

I was lying to myself.

For deep down, I had concerns about Delta. But booked through them anyway.


I've disliked Delta for years. Ever since they made me rush down to Leo Burnett to record a callback for a voice-over commercial with only two hours notice. Then, after 30 minutes in the booth, they had the audacity to file for Chapter 11, thus scrapping the entire project.

Perhaps a completely selfish reason for disliking a company, but I had to scramble for a sitter, prepare for an audition, AND find parking in the Chicago Loop. Two hours notice was crazy ridiculous.

Plus, there are the stories related to actual frustrating travel experiences with Delta. I've heard a few. (Arguably, these reasons are far more sound for not digging an airline :-P.)

On Thursday, I developed my own story.

Harper and I arrived at the airport, flew through security and relaxed at the gate.

Until they moved the gate. We changed locations.

The delayed flight took off without a hitch. It was packed. For now, all of us bumped from the earlier flight were joining the later one.  This meant Harper and I were no longer sitting together. Thankfully, we did find a nice gentleman who was gracious enough to move so that we could at least be across the aisle from one another. Due to the flight being packed, I went ahead and checked my luggage at the gate to be helpful, whereas normally, I'd just carry it on. (A decision I'd later regret.)

We arrived in Atlanta with 30 minutes to spare. Not a huge deal, only it was Atlanta, so we had to boogie and change terminals. We made it to the gate just as boarding was about to begin. I grabbed a salad and sat down to shovel it down. Then comes the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, your flight is delayed due to a mechanical malfunction."

I chewed more slowly.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your flight has been cancelled."

Thus began the stampede of frustrated passengers to the Delta ticketing area to secure seats on one of the other 4 flights to Jackson that day.

I managed to get on stand-by for every flight: 4:30, 5:57, 7:50, 11:something, and 8:00 AM.

4:30 flight. Oversold by 8 and me 11th on the Stand-By list. Didn't happen.

Next flight, 5:57. Oversold by 4 and me being 8th on the Stand-By list.

I scramble and secure a 7:30 flight to Meridian as a precaution. Even though it's almost 2 hours away from Jackson, our friends are more than willing to come get us. It's better than nothing, for the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a hotel over-night, should I not get on any of the remaining flights that evening.

At 5:30 we hear, "Ladies and gentlemen, the 5:57 flight has been cancelled," and then something to the effect of, "I'm sorry. We have no idea where your flight crew is at the moment. We have no information to give  you. This flight has been cancelled."

Knowing that I'm confirmed on a 7:30 flight to Meridian, I don't panic. Until I realize that I have no idea where my luggage is.

I call Delta. Note: It's 5:45.

"Hey, I was originally booked on flight ABCD which was cancelled and am now confirmed on flight ABCD to Meridian. It doesn't take off until 7:30. Can you move my luggage to that flight?"

"Absolutely. Hold on. (pause) Mrs. Atkins, we have your luggage and have moved it to Gate C52 for the Meridian flight."

"Thank you."

We get our vouchers for food, and blow it all on trail mix, bananas, grapes, and bottled water. (Nope - NO FAST FOOD.) And wait to board our flight to Meridian.

We land in Meridian.

We step off the plane and into the thickest jungle heat I've ever experienced. At 8:00 PM. 

Our luggage does NOT arrive with us.

Direct quote from Delta rep in Meridian.

"Mrs. Atkins, they flat out lied to you. Your luggage left Atlanta on the 4:30 flight today. It's in Jackson."

I can do math. My luggage had already arrived in Jackson when I was told it was being moved to my gate for the Meridian departure.

I give her my address in Jackson so they can drop it off.

We get to Jackson around 10. No luggage.

The next morning. No luggage.

I attempt to call Delta, but the wait time to speak to someone in luggage is over an hour.

I call the airport. They tell me to get in touch with Delta.

I call Delta customer service and ask for help. I ask to speak with someone who can tell me when I should expect my luggage.  I, admittedly, GO OFF ON HER, and ask to speak to a PERSON, and NOT to be put on hold. She gives me a non-1-800 number to call to speak with someone directly.

I call it. The woman listens and then transfers me to the BAGGAGE DEPARTMENT WHERE THE HOLD TIME IS MORE THAN AN HOUR TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE.

It's 10:00 AM. Over 12 hours since my flight and since my luggage flew to Jackson without me. I've had no phone call. No email. No communication from Delta as to when I will be getting my luggage, so . . .

We drive to the airport.

My luggage isn't there.

"It went out for delivery at 8:00 AM."

COULD SOMEONE HAVE CALLED ME?????? Why give a number if it isn't going to be used????

We fly back out tomorrow. I am NOT checking my luggage.

Hopefully, my story ends here and I will not have to write "Delta Downer: The Sequel"


Amy said...

Oh, good heavens! I hope your flight home will be uneventful.

thecurryseven said...

This sounds like every domestic flight I've taken in the recent past. I really dislike flying... and not because the planes go up in the air. If only they would.

I might suggest linking one of the first Delta mentions in your post to the Delta website. Companies will usually have some system that notifies them whenever their name is tagged... and I always want to share my opinions with them even if I never hear back.