This may be Delta Air Lines “Worst Week EVER” and it is far from over – #KeepDescending!

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We will receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertiser Disclosure, and advertiser partners, such as American Express, CreditCards.com and others visit this page.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

delta expands waver to hubs

This would have been good to have up DAYS ago Delta!

Delta has now expanded the waiver to all of it’s “hub” airports through tomorrow the 9th. It did not start out this way as when we look at the Internet Way Back Machine we see that to begin with they only offered you free changes if you were connecting via Atlanta that does handle up to 60% of all the daily fights that the airline runs.

So why has this turned out to be a MUCH worse week than all the other IT meltdown events that have happened again and again over the past year or so? This event was worse than having all the Delta people just stuck where they were and waiting to restart. Notice what one FlyerTalker commented, who claims to be a Delta flight attendant,  on a long and interesting thread about this week’s meltdown:

“Ok, this is what’s happening. FAs can be reached at any time by the company/scheduling by using the sky pro icrew. Because of the melt down, the FAs have been ordered to stop calling in and only go by what their schedules say on the skypro. No one is updating the skypros. When they do get updated, it’s late or outdated. Flight crews showing up for canceled flts, scheduling looking for crews in the wrong cities i.e. LAX when the crew is in ATL.

Flight crews are being over worked. On duty for 30+ hours -no sleep. No place for the crews to sleep when they are on the ground. The company has given up on trying to find hotels for FAs. The crews are told, once in the air, to find their own accommodations when they get to their destination. The company will reimburse them later. The trouble is, many of the crew are junior and don’t have the money for a room even if they can find them. Lack of sleep and no showers.

Because of what it happening, working crews illegally, the FAA is now starting an investigation. That is a fact.

While flight crews are easy targets, they aren’t being treated any better than the customers.

Fly Safe!” – NWA FA on FlyerTalk.com

Those are some shocking, and scary, public accusations against the airline. Again, I cannot confirm this anonymous Flyer Talker really is who they say they are but to me this passes the “smell test” of being an accurate statement from someone who works for Delta Air Lines.

To me the above statement really sums up this weeks total service failure. Yes, there was a horrible storm, but Delta made the mistake of not realizing just how bad it would be and starting with a waiver for ALL of it’s hubs to begin with. This would have prevented folks sleeping in airports for days when no crews or airplanes could be found to fly them where they wanted to go.

really oversold delta flight 747 renespoints blog

This is REALLY a full jet!

Next issue is how full Delta jets are. We know they want to reach 20×2020 that is only 20% of 1st class seats open on any jet by 2020 and all of coach full. This is great for making money but the issue is by pushing what is called capacity control or cutting flights so every flight can be full it leaves little extra capacity in the system when things go wrong like they did this week. Some of the issue this week has been made worse by Delta’s choices of how to run the airline. Now I get that we are in the middle of “Spring Break” week as well but that does not excuse the standard practice of selling and overselling everything to make matters worse (and BTW, doesn’t Spring Break happen every year?).

Next up we have the 500 pound elephant in the room and that is interlining. Few understand what Delta has done and again it is a choice and View From the Wing had a great post for you to read about it. In past years you could ask, when things went wrong, to have your ticket “moved” over to another airline. I have had Delta do this for me and fly me on an other airline to get me from A-B because Delta canceled a flight. Delta used to do this with many more airlines, including American Airlines, than they do now because they feel the other airlines were disproportionately sending customers to them when the other airlines had issues. Well this week it has been the other way and look what has happened.

stuck in ATL no food

Photo Credit: BaldThoughts.com

Lastly, and I am just dumbfounded by this, that in the middle of what is looking like the worst ever service failure week for Delta EVER, the airline is taking the time to secretly further decimate the value of SkyMiles while many loyal Delta travelers are stranded for days and days often with the most meager of supplies running out as you can see from my fellow BA blogger BaldThoughts.com who is traveling with his family this week on Delta! Nice to see you have our backs when things are at their worst?

Will Delta learn from this one like the other epic fails? Maybe. I hear they are building a brand new IT hub north of ATL to stop more IT disasters in the future. I think next time they may have the wherewithal to start with a much larger (and longer) waiver so folks can choose to not get stuck in the middle of another mess. As to the shameful practice of destroying loyalty rewards in the middle of a crisis? Nah, these highly trained professionals have YEARS of practice of gutting real value with those most loyal to Delta Air Lines! – René

 

27 comments

  1. Husband got caught in this mess as he was going sdf-dal. His plane, along with five other planes, got diverted to Columbia, SC. He said that once the storm passed, flight crews kept timing out just as they were getting ready to board. He finally gave up going to Dallas and flew back home. Took him about 20 hours to fly 3 hours round trip. Glad he was a single traveler traveling for a business meeting instead of trying to go somewhere for spring break,

  2. Rene, just transited thru ATL last night(around 10 pm!) and this morning(all scheduled). The number people and especially bags at the claims was staggering. We are not 3 days into the trainwreck that the rain and Delta mismanagement caused.
    Add this crappy MD88 relic we’re on(no power, slow wifi, maybe 30 inch Spirit like pitch etc…) and Delta might be paying for their greed. Although maybe this is EXACTLY what they want?
    Oh, and nice sudden deval to SkyMile partners.
    It’s Delta at it’s worst. Sad because the employees with no control over these issues are made to deal with them.

  3. Thanks for sharing this article and yes it sums up the disaster that Delta is right now as a company. They continue to destroy any Skymiles value and treat heavy and Loyal flyers (DM and MM) like they are the average, sporadic flyer. It is really getting sickening…I’ve been a very loyal DL flyer but I’m done with them…Changing to others that provide value for loyalty…Delta does not do that at all

  4. Let’s not forget that the abysmal air traffic control system/infrastructure is a disaster too. Tens of billions of dollars in money flushed down the toilet and nothing to show for it.

  5. Yes, it has not been so fun for crews either. My spouse (DL FA) had the flight cancel and had to stay an extra night (in Vegas no less, wasn’t complaining) and DL took care of the extra arrangements within a half hour of the cancellation.

  6. I flew 20 segments on Delta so far this year. Other than couple open seats on Delta One from LHR-MSP every other flight was either completely full or oversold. There was one from DTW-SEA that was so oversold they offered $1,000 vouchers for 6 people + hotel + meals to fly next day. Delta is working on the edge to keep their planes full all the time but that is really bad for customers. Also, flying out from MSP I never paid less than $600 for a ticket anywhere and many times paid over $1,000 to fly for less than 2 hours. It may be good for their shareholders but terrible for customers. As a Platinum medallion I tried to standby for earlier flights couple times and got 0% because planes were so full. My guess: they are using smaller planes or cutting flights so more people will have to fit in less flights.

  7. For those thinking of ditching the Delta, I shared a hotel van ride with an American Airlines Platinum-elite connecting passenger in DFW. Her inbound flight was cancelled due to a mechanical problem and she missed her DFW connection. American would not even pay her hotel for the night.

  8. Rene,

    First time ever, I flew enough last year to reach silver, so thought I’d see what I can do to up my status. Have been trying to follow your advice, getting reserve card and all.

    But lately reading your recent posts, I feel like I’ve been duped. Seems like it’s hardly worth the extra effort to try and increase status when you don’t get anything, and DL performance keeps getting worse, and constant de-valuing to perks.

    Ugh.

  9. @santastico. Same experience for a PM customer. Transitioned a lot of upcoming flights for second half of the year to Southwest as I am West coast based. One upgrade in 24 segments, and I use Rene’s rules, all year. So lots of time in the exit aisles vs. the fake upgrade seats

  10. Arrived ATL from AMS on DL in total shock last night, completely unaware of what was happening.
    Baggage area was absolute chaos, but found ours luckily, could be due to SkyPriority tags. Our next flight onto SCL showed some promise of departure on screens.
    DL app had given up and did not show my itin any longer.
    Next, had to find someone to transfer baggage onto next flight DL147 to Santiago/Chili. Impossible at 01:30 am after searching for help and only finding very few check-in agents handling hours-long-lines.
    Unbelievably, was able to take all (to be checked bags) through a working security (carry-on) line with ONE TSA agent checking and passed without any interference, able to walk through and have the baggage labeled at the gate.
    Spend remaining 5 hours at Skyclub where folks were sleeping allover. The “Help”-queu outside the entrance was hours long and I believe they were trying to stay open all night to help stranded passengers.
    We felt so fortunate and happy when our flight departed with only a 5 hr delay and half the crew – of which most had no sleep for days. Elderly FA (that looked exhausted) told me she had never experienced chaos like this – ever.
    Everyone onboard was appreciative and let the crew rest for most of the 10 hr flight duration and was surprised we had catering onboard at all.
    We landed safely in SCL with only a few hrs delay.
    So lucky !

  11. I posted this previously at The Gate. But because René is the leading Delta blogger, it definitely should be added to this post.

    I realized a while ago that the only airline I enjoy flying is Southwest. In fact, I actually trust Southwest. This is because they are the only airline I’ve flown that actually treats their economy customers (i.e. all pax) well.

    I often have bad experiences with DL/AA/UA, and they lost my trust a while ago. I only fly economy, so why would the legacy airlines go above-and-beyond me? I only cover their expenses. I’m not a profit generator.

    Southwest’s business model allows them to be profitable at a lower price point. Because of this, average economy passengers are profit generators for them, and we are treated accordingly. Just look at all the perks below!

    The pros:
    – ALL tickets are 100% refundable regardless of status until ~10 minutes before takeoff (discount pax get a voucher)
    – 2 free checked bags (saves me $100 RT when going skiing)
    – a domestic network comparable in size to the legacy carriers (minimizes disruption from ir-ops)
    – Rapid Rewards can be redeemed for ANY flight (also see cons list)

    The cons:
    – no first class (I would never pay for it anyways)
    – status is useless (except for companion pass, which can be insanely valuable)
    – # of RRs required for awards flights varies according to price at time of ticketing (also see pros list)
    – international network is a joke (737 MAX to the rescue?)

    Going off on a tangent, forget Norwegian and WOW disrupting the long-haul market. Imagine Southwest with a fleet of TATL-capable 737 MAXs. Legacy carriers don’t stand a chance against the Southwest Effect; history is my witness. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

    To tie this in with the above article, compare how Delta and Southwest announced changes to their frequent flyer programs. On one hand is Delta that secretly devalues the program overnight. On the other hand is Southwest which originally made the companion pass harder to get overnight too. However they recognized that it was a bad decision to surprise customers like that, and they owned up to the mistake. They then extended the deadline by 3 months, and even included transfers that were initiated by the deadline, but not yet completed. I sincerely doubt that Delta will take a similar consumer-friendly approach to its recent devaluation.

    That being said, would I enjoy the experience of flying first class on a legacy airline? Absolutely. But would I be willing to pay for it? Absolutely not.

    Bring on the “cattle car” and “gate lice” comments. I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

  12. You are not the first to talk up Sothwest, but where I live in the NYC area, Southwest does not have enough direct flights for where I want to go, so for business, which is 90% of my flying, it doesn’t really work for me.

    What really saddens me about the recent bad business practices is that I am an alum of the same university as Ed Bastian, and I would have thought he would have learned more there about how to treat people.

  13. I’ve spent many years avoiding Delta. Regretfully, I gave them another chance this weekend, believe me when I say, it will not happen again. I arrived at the airport this morning; attempted to check my bag curve side, only to be told that my flight had been cancelled. I went inside and stood in line for almost two hours. I attempted to talk myself into feeling better after hearing other people in line talking about how they had been trying to leave Dallas since Wednesday. I travel often, but have never taken a winter vacation; and, I had to return to Dallas on Thursday for business, so this was a short vacation, comparatively, with an expensive 900.00 Delta ticket. I was told by the Delta Agent that they could get me to Salt Lake City, but I had to spend the night before going onto Jackson Hole. I ask if they were paying for the hotel? The agent stated NO, because the delay was weather related; now, after reading this article, that is only 1/2 true. So, I made the decision to book a flight for Sunday, and return home today, only to try again tomorrow. Oh, and one more thing, the agent fail to return my driver’s license; no, I did not fail to get them back from her, she fail to return my driver’s license to me. I didn’t notice my license was not in the usual compartment until I returned home. After attempting to call every Delta number I could find, the recorder either stated that particular office was closed until Monday or “calls cannot be completed at this time.” I called DFW Security, they advised me to check with lost and found on Monday! Delta has absolutely no customer service. I am beyond frustrated, and mad!

  14. Diamond here and worst experience ever after 40+ years flying!

    I used a companion fare to take wife to Denver from Atlanta for a week. Scheduled to return on Thursday around 5. Checked in, went to Skyclub (which by the way is awful with very few plugs for computers). Then notified 2 hours before scheduled time that flight cancelled. Stood in line for hour+ for rebooking and choose to take a Saturday non stop (this was Thursday) thinking surely if I stayed an extra night delta would get this figured out and that flight would not be cancelled.

    But nope, woke up Saturday morning with message flight had been cancelled and I had been rebooked for SUNDAY with connections through Cincinnati. After 1 1/2 hours on the phone, got a late Saturday direct booking. Sitting here in skyclub hoping not cancelled.

    But the interesting thing is because I used a companion fare, they tried to shuttle me in the midst inconvenient flights. I have confirmed that tidbit! So while you can pitch the AMEX COMPANION or diamond companion, it has a host of penalties.

  15. Rene, I think that your basic thinking on this is flawed. You seem to think that Delta cares at all about anyone who is not a shareholder, when every action they’ve taken over the last 5+ years has shown absolute indifference to what any other group thought. It’s incredibly sad, and I fervently wish it weren’t true, but that’s what every piece of evidence indicates.

  16. Not even Captain Scully can save this situation. And to think I though Delta’s screwup last summer was their worst ever. #TimetoDumpDelta

  17. Thankfully I didn’t have any flights scheduled for these three weeks. However, my partner who’s is a long time flyer and EP with American got stuck coming back to SFO from BOS at JFK. I know we’re bashing Delta here and they probably deserve for he devaluation but the chaos was pretty much everywhere. Crews overworked, clocking max hours mid-flights (how the hell doesn’t someone add the miles up, are people that bad at math these days), cumulative delays and no availability in airline/flight whatsoever. This week was indeed an unprecedented week in terms of weather and travel issues.

  18. Chatting with the lead flight attendant on my (5 hour delayed) MSY-ATL flight this afternoon she noted that Delta had “lost” the crew for 36-hours this week, had no idea where they were, and as a result they had timed out multiple times. She was just as happy as the passengers on the flight that they were finally getting back to ATL today.

  19. On a flight Saturday from NAS to ATL with 8 people. Flight was cancelled and they were only able to rebook us for a Tuesday flight. No vouchers since it was “weather related”. Walked over to JetBlue bought tickets to MCO for $200 each and then rented two vehicles to drive back to ATL. How is the best way to ask for a refund for the flights we won’t be taking? Would love to get actually money back to cover expenses at JetBlue and rental cars. Thanks!

  20. Also, can we get compensation from credit cards since flight was rebooked three days later even if we won’t be taking those flights? Tickets purchased on Delta Reserve.

  21. Rene, we finally got home… on Saturday (vs. Thurs night scheduled flight)… via Southwest.

    When I called to cancel my Sunday flight on Delta, the agent told me that I wouldn’t get refunded my miles because I had already flown a portion of the trip!

    More fodder for my email to Delta asking for compensation (and my blog post that will go live Monday morning).

  22. Imagine your Mom is in hospice and you are trying to fly your 3 grown children plus spouses to Fort Lauderdale from 3 cities, TVC; SFO and CMH. Then imagine what happens when our flight is delayed 5 hours in Detroit, One sons flight is cancelled at CMH and Delta cant find alternative flight.Spent $850 on American AIr to get him to FLL Second son from SFO finally arrives at 4:30am next day after 8 hour delay. Third son arrives 2 days later on Jet Blue another $500. On hold with Delta total of 14 hours over 2 days and they want to charge me for redeposit of some skymiles. If the Delt CEO’s Mom was dying would he think this was acceptable?

  23. @Susan – I am so sorry for your situation. As to your question, CEO’s make so much money they can fly PVT if they have to.

  24. Leave it to United to take Delta’s worst week and still find a way to come out looking worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *