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What Delta did Right & Wrong Yesterday. They score an A- and a C+ in Fixing the Mess!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

view from a Delta jet in 1st class at takeoff RenesPoints blog
Not a view many had from Delta yesterday!

What a day yesterday was. It was a long day since the meltdown started just after midnight Eastern time and then continued all day long. Many folks were REALLY upset and did not pull any punches on social media, but since my blog is PC-13 I will only share that much. I think you get the idea that many folks did not follow my suggestion of being nice to the Delta people who were trying to make things better.

What did Delta do right and wrong yesterday and why do I say they got both an A- and a C+ (not the seat, but the score)? Let’s start with the bad first and why I say C+.

georgia power tweet

Delta opened up, as they often do in damage control, blaming others. They blamed the power company but George Power would not play along and called them out. My parents always told me not to lie or even tell a “little lie” as they will always one day come back to bite you. Thankfully, Delta somewhat backtracked and did not try to blame anyone but themselves for the mess. But they still keep using the line “The airline experienced a loss of power” somewhat sounding like it was not really their fault. Yeah, C+ worthy.

Next we have SNAPP. Myself, and many Delta people, have been warning us about how bad things will go when 100% under SNAPP and under this melt down it failed according to all the reader reports who have interacted with Delta people. Don’t expect Delta to confirm this as the full change over will still happen. Wait till the next melt down when they cannot go back to DLterm to save them. That will mean a disaster of epic proportions. Fear this – I do!

But enough of the bad now on to the good and why in may ways Delta did shine and more than anything deserves praise for how the day unfolded and an A- is a valid score. Here is why.

Lots of updates. I really dislike the “Delta News Hub” as it is as much of a silly PR site as a news site. Having said that today it delivered a ton of updates and mostly transparent info. They are to be commended this round. They get, to use Olympic vernacular, a tiny deduction for stumbling out of the gates with the first press info about what was wrong.

Active social media folks (even on stupid comments). Delta folks work hard. The Delta Twitter people can fix an amazing amount of issues. They have even loosened up and now mostly respond to tweets. Even in the middle of the mess they took the time to respond to most requests to them even when they were mostly RANT tweets. Impressive.

delta waver for power outage due to Delta equipment fail
Now for both the 8th & the 9th!

Offer to change free even after the 8th. When so many are in a mess I am sure some gave up and went home (or to a hotel). Allowing you to change anytime this week if you were booked Monday, that is, you did not have to address the issue on Monday, is good for “you” and good for Delta too btw. However, as others have pointed out, it will likely take days to make everyone whole again so extending the waiver for a few days would have been nice. At least late in the day yesterday they extended it one more day through the 9th.

Delta Air Lines feeds pizza to stranded passangers salt lake slc after two broken jets long layover (2)
You know the delay is long when Delta PIZZA arrives.

Pizza & other meals & refreshments. It is not like the EU261 rule where an airline has to pay you real money and give you food vouchers if your delay is a set number of hours. No, Delta in the USA by law or rule does not have to do anything at all but they do. They roll out HOOU carts with free water and sodas. When things go really wrong they often order pizza. You know it has been a very long day when you see free pizza (or bag lunches etc) at your gate. But still a very nice move.

A public apology in real time from CEO. A smart move by Ed Bastian. When folks are furious and looking for answers and want to vent at employees (they shouldn’t, but they do) then an “I’m Sorry” by the top dog of the company goes a long way.

current 1k max for delta bump vouchers but rules change all the time renespoints blog
These will spend like cash flying Delta!

A blanket $200 credit for affected passengers. Like food, Delta did not have to do this. Here is why this was both smart and dumb at the same time. Smart because you are owning the issue. You are trying to make it right. Dumb because if you were stuck for say 12-24 hours then that amount is all but meaningless. Keep in mind also that a VAST number of these vouchers go unspent so I doubt all who get these will spend them. They have 1 year to spend and yet one more year to fly btw.

Putting safety ahead of anything else. When you think Delta you think safety. I give Delta credit that they did all they could to get things back up and running, but not at the cost of a safe operation. I respect this.

So there you are. This has been an interesting start to the week for a great many of us who fly Delta. I think the Delta people have been amazing and have earned some extra time off for this event not of their making. I hope Delta takes the time to see that SNAPP is not ready for prime time yet and that maybe some more spending on IT would be a good idea. I am sure Delta has learned a bunch from this but the most important lesson is not to let it happen ever again! – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I really would be interested in knowing what happened when this is all done. Did someone accidentally hit the EPO button or something?

  2. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply

    @ Rene

    “When you think Delta you think safety.”

    Really? That’s weird, because when I think Delta I think about the way they gouged returning US Servicemen $2500 each for ‘excess bag fees’ in direct violation of GSA Government Contract Flight Terms.

    I think of them charging a family $400 simply to get seats together with their 3 year old.

    I think of them giving useless $200 vouchers yesterday when every month they strand (over 3 hour delay) more passengers than that without compensation, hotel or meal vouchers.

    I think of them concealing the seat map, at time of booking, for non-elite flyers. They’ve been doing that for years. “Want a seat assignment for your $1000, 400 mile flight? Pay up suckker.”

    I think of them posting “100% ontime” stats on THEIR website when the FlightStats database shows the same flight numbers in the public database at 60%.

    Maybe you are talking about a different Delta? I’m talking about the one based in Atlanta with that guy, Richard Anderson, telling me how much he “had my back”. What horse dung.

    They get a D- for what happened yesterday. Their fault. Own it, don’t sugar coat it.

  3. Santastico Reply

    Something bad is going on at Delta. They may be just unlucky but I have never experienced so many delays like in the last couple months (Delta customer service has been loading my account with SkyPesos for the inconvenience) and now this huge failure in their systems. They have been so focused on shareholder value and cutting costs that they forgot how to operate an airline efficiently. I always told they were shooting themselves on their foot but I didn’t expect their actions to please shareholders would come back to bite them so soon.

  4. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply

    Watch this dude talk:

    Some apology. Watch. He STILL insists this was a “we lost power” situation– and most of this is meaningless platitudes pandering to his staff and shareholders: “all hands on deck”, “Delta teams working around the clock”, “working very very hard”. Yada-Yada-Yada.
    All about patting themselves on the back for working so hard, while only tangentially even acknowledging the customers’ “travel challenges”.

    I contend that this company’s culture is rotten to the absolute core. Even in a case where it’s crystal clear they didn’t do their jobs (ie back-up systems and disaster recovery scenarios), they will still insist they are the best, that they didn’t screw up, and, by the way, “Customers go pound sand.”
    Hopefully we’ll get some regulatory intervention soon– at minimum they should be able to re-institute the agreements (canceled by DL) to put passengers into seats on other airlines.

  5. Agree with Santastico. We’ve posted recently that especially on CRJ’s(I know they are feeder airlines but stilll…) the delays are increasing. Even mainline service has either been very unlucky or the cutbacks are hurting their ability to maintain their aircraft. Now add yesterday’s trainwreck(which DAL tried to push on the local utiiliy) and something is pointing the wrong direction on Virginia Ave.
    Not very comforting.

  6. tucsonbabe Reply

    I was amazed that I was unable to cancel my ticket online. My 6:00 AM flight on the 9th from TUS to ATL was canceled late in the evening of the 8th.. I was going on to MCO.
    At about 1:30 AM this morning, I was rebooked via LAX however I did not have a seat assignment on the LAX to MCO leg despite the fact that website was showing seats available. As of 8:09 AM Delta is still selling tickets for this flight.
    Since I make it a point to go nowhere without a seat assignment, I decided to cancel my trip. OOOPS, I got the “not cancel-able on line message” and spent 45 minutes in the wee hours of the morning on hold on the Premium line in order to cancel my ticket. Not only does this aggravate a customer, it also adds to the burden of the phone agents who are already overwhelmed.
    Heaven only knows how long non premium passengers had to wait. It turns out it was a wise move on my part as the TUS/LAX leg scheduled to leave at 11:20 AM today has now been cancelled.
    Your Bad Delta.

  7. @Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD

    What he said was true… Delta lost power… What he does not say it that it was on the Delta side of the Grid (not sure if this is the correct word). GP&L brings the electric to the building at the meter, what happens on the other side of the meter is Delta owned, not GP&L.

    The loss of power to the computer system could have been caused by many things. From the system that monitors the power and prevents surges from hitting the system failing, to someone tripping over a cord (over simplified). Or a failure in the lines from the meter to the Server Room. I would have thought that Delta would have some sort of generator based power backup system, but either they don’t or that failed as well.

    GP&L did say they were trying to assist Delta in resolving the issue. As Delta is a large enough customer, GP&L wants to see that meter dial spinning.


  8. Santastico Reply

    @Gregg: My local Costco sells power backup generators. 🙂 Delta is just cheap, greedy and obnoxious that they probably thought this would never happen to them so someone there cut the budget and did not have a backup solution in place. Tooooooo bad!!!! Now they are in this mess.

  9. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply


    I guess I consider a lie-through-omission to be “a lie” in this circumstance… blaming a “power failure” in this case is sort of like blaming Hurricane Katrina on “a weather prediction failure”. While built around a grain of “truthiness”, it ignores the massive malfeasance through lack-of-preparation. DL made billions of $$ last year, yet a single point of failure can take this pillar of infrastructure to its knees?
    I’m not buying.

    I think they are now “too big to fail” and the consumers (and businesses ) that rely on these people deserve some sort of protections. including:
    1) Required interline agreements to shift passengers to other carriers
    2) EU-consistent $660 mandatory compensation, plus lodging, meals
    3) Severe sanctions for repeat offender airlines– including landing slot restrictions and financial sanctions

    We let these guys merge-into-this-oligopoly. They are now too big to fail, so we need to take action.

  10. @Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD and @Santastico,

    I am in no way defending Delta with my comment. All I was saying is there are other ways to have a power failure and it not be the fault of the local power company. Thus making Delta’s comments true.

    I am in South Florida and the building I used to work in had a Diesel backup generator. They would test it once or twice a year by disconnecting main power and see how it kicked in, if it failed we lost power. Since we knew about this in advance, we did a graceful shutdown in case it did not start. Now I am not saying this is what happened, but if Delta was doing a test and the backup power failed, causing an instant shutdown of all their mainframes and servers, that would be a mess to restart.

    I remember a customer (a large bank) doing a shutdown a few years back and when they restarted their servers in the facility about a years worth of Windows updates occurred at one time. One of the updates from Microsoft increased security on the network ports our software used and brought one of their fulfillment facilities to a standstill. It took almost a day to figure out what was causing the communication failure, as they could still send jobs from their other location to this one and they ran.

    So in this case, the cause could have been a simple power failure that could have been rectified quickly, but the actual damage was done as the systems were brought back online.

    I have no knowledge as to what really happened at Delta yesterday, just giving a possible scenario. I don’t think Delta will ever own up to what actually happened publicly, but if this were what one of my kids was trying to tell me, I would accuse them of lying by omission.


  11. I have flown 120,000 miles on Delta this year. No delays. No interruptions. I’ll fly another 80,000 by years end.
    Delta people are the best. I wish I was flying this week. It would have been a great opportunity for bumportunities and lots of airport lounge time.

    • @Wayne – I LOVE your attitude and dedication to both Delta and working Delta for perks. Both are a winner to me! 😉

  12. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply


    What part of Atlanta do you live in? Buckhead’s great, isn’t it!?

  13. I am traveling today. Thus far have been delayed so would miss a connection, thus rerouted, then that flight cancelled, now booked on a flight that was supposed to leave 4 hours ago but will go out in a hour (hopefully). I have taken this opportunity to commend the front line Delta people, hand out some Delta Thanks coupons, especially to those agents that have to deal with irate passengers. Remember, the problem whatever it may be was not the fault of these fine people.

  14. @Wayne,

    I hope its resolved by Thursday. I am flying FLL-IND. Since I am only GM, and I was using PWM for part of the ticket, the cost from E to P difference was only $120 RT less than $90 for an upgradeable seat, so I booked the P and got the mileage as if I paid cash for the whole ticket.

    Right now I connect at ATL, but I wanted to try and SDC for an earlier flight the goes FLL-LGA-IND. If they dont have it resolved by end of day tomorrow, I think I will be SOL.


  15. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply


    Actually, “SOL in ATL” would be a great title for a re-make of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I’m picturing John Candy as the beleaguered traveler and John Belushi and Jim Varney as the Delta Pilots. A pity that all the best actors for this vehicle are deceased.

    Rene started this piece with “When you think Delta you think safety.”
    And, come to think of it, John Belushi and and Jim Varney must have been flying that DL flight that landed the other day at Ellsworth Air Force Base “by mistake”. Does anyone here think it’s ‘safe’ to land a civilian A320, without announcing yourself, at a nuclear base?

    You Delta apologists can jaw all day long, but this airline is a serious basket case… an operational dumpster fire.

    • @Tachyon – LOL I have been called a great many things but a Delta apologist has not been one of them for years now.

  16. Things clearly aren’t running well yet. The ATL-ORD leg of my CHA-ORD trip tomorrow morning was cancelled 3 hours ago. The website will not let me rebook or change my itinerary; instead it throw up an error message every time I try to view my reservation. 2.5 hours ago I called the GM customer service #. It asked me to leave my phone number for a callback, which would come between “one hour and 7 minutes and one hour and 49 minutes.” It has now been 2.5 hours and no callback.

    • @Adam – See my post from yesterday on tips how to make this better for you.

  17. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply

    @Gregg G

    Ha. Yes, I will concede that. With a phalanx of 0.50 cal and SAM weaponry, locked and loaded, pointed in their direction I’d wager.

    I’m just stunned at how situationally-unaware you’d have to be to mistake Ellsworth for RAP– especially in an A320 that undoubtedly put them on the outer marker for RAP’s runway 32. Is bizarre.

    Like those DL (via NWA) pilots that overflew MSP and were halfway to Canada that time… at least they seem to have had a (bad) excuse, as engrossed as they were in watching porn on their laptop.

    In this case I’m not sure how you line up for final on the Ellsworth runway with no clue– given the obvious lighting and VASI approach differences– you were on the wrong approach.

    I liked this from the ‘ever-helpful’ DL though:
    >>”Delta has contacted the customers of this flight and offered a gesture of apology for the inconvenience,” said a written statement issued Friday by Delta.<<

    What is that? a couple of extra Biscoff cookies? Or 1000 SkyDrachma? "Gee, sorry we inadvertently terminated our flight at a security nuclear-weapons facility. Especially sorry about all those M16s and the camo dudes! Here's a free drink coupon for your next flight!"

  18. I’ve had more delays this year too. A few were weather related and there isn’t much the airline can do when the airport closes. We may only have CRJs out of my local airports, but I still prefer Delta and the CRJ over United that always cancels flights and American that is usually late. Delta is still much better and most of the time their people seem to try very hard to make things right.

  19. Tachyon_OGG-SBA-IAD Reply


    Just checking to make sure that you understood that often, in those stations that no longer have mainline service, all the flights from all the carriers are still operated by only one regional service? Here in Santa Barbara, CA, before Delta exited the market completely, all the DL, US Air, AA and UA flights were operated by SkyWest. Or, SkyWorst as we know and loathe them. It wasn’t uncommon to have a system issue at SkyWest in UT ground ALL flights for all carriers– DL doesn’t even count those ‘regional’ cancellations and late flights in their inflated “ontime” numbers.

    Although it was fun one morning on the SkyWest to SLC to see the local Congresswoman blow a gasket at the Delta rep. “Don’t you know who I am?!?” “uh, no, and we have canceled this flight. Go inside to re-book.” One thing about Delta (except for their DMs) they have equal contempt for everybody else.

  20. My flight from BCN to ATL was boarding just as the outage occurred. The crew did a remarkable job as they turned on Gogo and everyone’s entertainment systems, restocked the plane with drinks and snacks, and keeping us informed.

    A flight attendant told me the pilots had to go within 4 hours of the scheduled time or they would time out. Our pilot said he had everything ready to go except the return wait/balance paperwork from Delta.

    At 3 hours in, Delta evidently wanted us to deplane, but the pilot fought to keep us ready to go since he knew that having everyone get off would probably end any opportunity to avoid a cancellation.

    We made it home 7 hours late. Not bad considering the circumstances.

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