Does Delta ever misrepresent what the real issue is with your flight?

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This week Lisa & I were flying from SBN to ATL to tour Delta CORP (a visit I was really, really looking forward to). We were on a very early morning flight that was oversold. We decided to take a bump since there were no less than 3 flight options to get us to where we needed to go on time for our meeting. We picked the 1st option that left only 1 hr later than our direct SBN-ATL flight, and connected via DTW, but got us in only a few hours later than the first flight. Great. But, then what do you think happened next?

We push back and are told there is weather in DTW. We park for 1.25 hrs and wait. We are told the minimum landing visibility is not good enough for us and we can either keep waiting or go back to the gate. The captain is nice enough to ask us all what we want to do. We want to go back to the gate. As it turned out, that flight, that was to leave SBN at 8:AM, did not leave until 3:PM! Now was it all due to weather? No! We found out from the captain that the radio altimeter was broken, not just that, but according to the captian it had been written up as broken the day before and nothing had been done and they continued to allow it to fly knowing the forecast! I was told with a working radio altimeter we could have flown to DTW no problem and this was proven true when other flights all day did come and go from DTW. But we could not!

A Pinnacle Air jet this year

Was it really the weather? The airport rep said it WAS due to weather since, had it been a nice sunny day, we could have flown without a radio altimeter. But to me that is like saying with a 200 mph tail wind we could fly on half the gas so it is the wind’s fault for not blowing 200 mph! Am I wrong here or what do you think? Good old Pinnacle Air at it’s finest once again (do any of their jets work 100% I don’t think so)! Not only that, but the last bird we were on had another issue that required a bunch of extra “gas” to safely fly (they said they had been delayed all day as they had to call dispatch for each flight)!

Another Pinnacle Air jet this year

We did, at long last, make it to ATL at 11PM sharp almost 14 hrs later than our first flight landed in ATL and I will say the ground staff in SBN and the flight crews were very very kind, helpful and all around top notch in trying to make this all better and get us on any flight with seats! So should we have said no to the bump and let them force two other passengers off the flight since no one else was willing to give up their seats? It sure seems that way, but I guess no one can predict the radio altimeter weather right! – Rene

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  1. I’m sure Delta does this on oversold connections. The most recent one was a connection in MSP. Plane was pushed back from the gate 10 min. before scheduled flight. We had run from our initial flight that was delayed 1 hr. because we new we could still make our connection. Of course last flight of the night. Got a room and meal vouchers.
    The only reason I knew the flight was over sold is we had to friends end up with our seats(they new the seat #’s)and had not gotten a seat assignment on same flight. I thanked them for the text while they waited to take off. No I didn’t complain to Delta, it was before I started reading your posts a couple of months ago.

  2. I flew TPA to DTW this past Monday. The fog was terrible when we landed. They we proceeded to play the movie airplane. I get to gate C-10 for my connecting flight on pinnacle and am told 10 minutes after it was posted online that there is a delay. Was told not to leave the gate area because it could actually come back on time again. This gate agent was very nice. Then told to go to gate C-20. that gate agent was a 7. After 20 minutes at that gate we were told to go to gate C-24. Again the new gate agent was a solid 9. Our flight didn’t have a plane. So just before the plane landed with the passengers we got back the second gate agent and that solid 6 turned into a 5. But I only landed a couple + hours late. You get used to it after awhile;)

  3. Pinnacle air is garbage, I am Diamond and fly CRJ connections 90% of my flights and have purposefully avoided the more convenient Pinnacle flight for Skywest because of their constant mechanical delays. Delta needs to either take over these routes or fire Pinnacle as they are definitely not up to the standards expected of a Worldwide airline.

  4. I had a very similar incident last month: an early snow storm apparently caught DEN off-guard, and we spent 2.5 hrs waiting to de-ice (first they ran out of fluid, then the truck broke), before going back to the gate (to avoid the 3hr+ fine), refueling, and then waiting on the tarmac for another 1.5 hrs. Official cause was wx, but if they had enough fluid, or more than one truck, it wouldn’t have caused everyone to overnight in SLC.

  5. @Sean – there you go. Sure if it had not been snowing there would have been no need for de-iceing fluid right, but should they not have enough fluid to get the job done? Txs – Rene

  6. all airline agents misrepresent what is going on, all the time. the real question to ask — when you have access to airline management — do they train their employees to do this, and if there is a manual for it?that would be a real find, if someone can come up with a training document.

  7. I’ve had Delta misrepresent the reason once. They said it was an ATC delay when it turned out to be a way to delay while TSA and police prepared to search our flight because razor blades had been found in the jetway. We all had to get off and be thoroughly searched. Other than that I do not believe Delta purposely misrepresents stuff often.

  8. @Fred – just IMO but plausible deniability is what they shoot for. Then again, what you and I may say is a broken aircraft may not be what the airlines say is a broken aircraft!

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