Rookie Wednesday: What does Delta owe you for a weather delay? What are your options?

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Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

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We hate it when bad weather rolls in. Snow, thunder & lightning or worse. You know who hates bad weather more than you and me – Delta! As much as we want to get to where we want to go, on time, they want their jets in the right places at the right time. I mean, if you are delayed or flight does not fly, you are unhappy. If a flight does not fly then everyone at this end is upset, and if a replacement bird is not available, then everyone at the other end is upset too!

But what rights do you have if weather gets in the way? If you look at what the DOT says, not much. Weather really is the “golden ticket” for an airline to say: “sorry you get nothing and you will like it“! Now there are the new-ish rules that they can no longer leave you forever on the tarmac locked in on a jet without paying up. These rules seem to have worked and I am most happy they are in place!

Now are the airlines always honest about calling something weather when it is not? I say no but others in the industry say my real world example is weather even though a part on the jet was broken. You decide for yourself. Honestly, it does not matter, if the airline says it is weather, it is weather and there is nothing we can do about it.

Well this information sure is depressing so far – sorry. But that is all the bad news. There is a bunch of good news. But since the airline does not OWE you anything, it is up to us to do the work.

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Delta has an amazing weather team. They are aggressive and have been, for the most part, spot on about offering weather waivers ahead of issues; it is up to us to work with the free change offers. We don’t have to change but it Delta thinks it is a really dumb idea to try to fly we should really listen. If not, don’t get mad at the airline when things go wrong.

But what if we get stuck in the middle of something unexpected. Keep in mind that flights are almost always full nowadays. If the storm is bad enough you could get stuck someplace for days! That is not much fun. The key thing when something like this happens is to get out of that city (then not to another one with just as bad an issue). If Minneapolis has a blizzard get to Detroit or Cincinnati or Atlanta. Flying in the wrong direction? Who cares because you are not stuck where you are with loads of people all trying to get on the same full flights the next day. Your chance from another hub will be much better even if it means more flights to get you to where you want to be. None of these extra flights will cost you any extra but Delta will NOT pay for your food or hotels or such (most of the time).

What kind of help can you get from Delta when things go wrong? In a really bad event, the lines everywhere will be long. If you are an elite, GM+, most times you can still get quick good help from phone reps. But there are other ways. Find wifi. Check flights. Use @DeltaAssist and ask for help getting out! Go to the Skyclub (if you have access even if it costs you the fee could be worth it to get help). There are bound to be lines there too but often shorter than the airport help centers plus often times the reps in the Skyclubs will do things others will not (not always)!

Can you get Delta to pay for your hotel if you can not get out? Doubtful but try. This is one great reason to have hotel points. I love the fact that I can often burn up say 3-4,000 SPG points on a basic hotel when everyone else is paying full price or even a “distressed” passenger rate that you can get some times with the help from the airline. Your chances of getting Delta to take care of the room are much higher if you are HVC compared to not; no guarantee but your chances do go up. Same goes for meal vouchers. You can ask as all they can say is NO!

Some warnings about alternative “modes” of transport. Say you are flying ATL-DTW-SBN and in DTW they cancel the flight to SBN. It is only a 3-ish hour drive so you and a few of your stuck travelers rent a car and share the cost and get to South Bend. Great, but, your return part of the trip may cancel if you do not fly the DTW-SBN leg say the next day. The airline can do this and you are then stuck paying for a one-way ticket home. If a situation like this happens, I once again ask you to use @DeltaAssist. Let them know what is happening and ASK if you will lose return if you skip leg. If they say it is OK to skip the flight then also ask that they put a NOTE in the record that you will be taking return trip and adjusting due to weather. You then have e-mail proof of what is going on should it cancel anyway!

I hope you see the going theme of this post. When things go wrong, and it is not the airline’s fault, you need to be pro-active, do the work, look at options and most of all be nice to all those you interact with since you are asking them for help! – René

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  1. I don’t quite understand the belief that an airline should bend over backwards to help with weather related incidents. It has no control over the weather, will obviously be running at a reduced capacity, and there will be x,000 people in the same boat as you, thus compounding the issue.

    So, given the readership of your blog, I find it a little disingenuous not to mention…

    Insurance, insurance, INSURANCE!

    However, one thing I do appreciate in the blog is the need to be flexible: hire a car (although ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ springs to mind), change your trip, be proactive, and look at the weather yourself!

    In Europe, we are well covered for airline induced issues (very well, you may say) but weather is ruled out. Correctly so.

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