If a Delta rep tells you – NO! – do you have to accept their answer? Are there other options?

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How many times have you had someone from Delta, when you need help with something minor or major, tell you this:

  • We can’t – Not possible – Not available – No, no no!

Don’t you hate that? How is this ever good customer service I ask you. Solutions, #StriveForFive, find a way or some way to make it better is what I would expect to hear. But sometimes this is not the case. What then?

Earlier this month I touched on how to reach Delta when you need help either via different numbers to call or other ways to reach someone who can help. But you may already be dealing with a Delta person so that is not really much help. What then? It is always a fine line of what you can say or do that could help or hurt your in any given situation (see twitter interaction above). So there are key things to know. Let’s look at them one by one:

Will your request get them in trouble. If you fly in and out of Atlanta I am reasonably sure you have had a Delta rep say something like “are you going to take the blame if I get in trouble doing that”? I find it shocking so many have said stuff like that to me but it seems to be a cultural thing in ATL. But it does make my point – reps don’t like doing things that could land them in hot water with the mothership. Sure they want to make customers happy but not at risk to themselves. So think about what you are asking before you even ask it (or who you are asking it to).

Know what you can push and can’t push. With the above in mind there are things you can and can not push with reps. So much of life in “Deltaland” is now computer controlled and out of rep’s hands. I have warned you about SNAPP and that we would not like it as it un-empowers reps to do things they once could or would do for us. If the CPU says NO they say no. While I do not have a full list of all the things you can push for, know depending on the circumstances there are things that reps can do and will do if they can document the reason for whatever it is.

Find a Red Coat. This is not an instant solution but there are so many things a Red Coat customer service specialist can do, or get away with, that a front-line rep can not. They may not want to do what you are asking for any more than others but they may turn your NO into a yes or at least give you other choices (maybe).

Ask for a supervisor. Now if you are already talking to a Red Coat they may tell you they ARE the supervisor but they also have someone above them. They may not be available and at some airports, especially smaller ones, you may be at the top already.

Ask to talk to the station manager. Wait, what? Many large airports have a manager over that “station” (they don’t work for the airport, they work for Delta). They may be way too busy to deal with your issue or even agree to come and talk to you but know they exist. If it is important enough to push whatever your issue is this person is ultimately the one who has the authority to get what you want done and may or may not be willing to take the heat from turning your NO into a yes.

Lastly we have do an end run. Ever ask Mom for something and she says NO so you then go find Dad and ask him and then he says YES (yeah, we have all done that – once)! Now with an airline most of the time you will not have to face the consequences of the end run. So, if a phone rep tells you no, then call Delta Asia instead or vice versa. If a gate agent says no, go to the Sky Club and beg a rep there or vice versa. You get the idea – don’t give up until you have tried a number of options.

So how often are you going to find success in flipping a NO to a YES? It depends on what you are asking for and how persistent you want to be. After so many years of thousands of flights I tend to only push things that really matter to me as the little things are just not worth the effort. Then again, what is little to me may be major to you so give the above a shot! – René





  1. One of your better posts. Particularly the Mom and Dad part. Most importantly in all one’s requests is to be nice, professional, and gracious, even if they say no. Easier said than done. I have to work really hard at this. Sometimes I tell myself to be nice and smile. Calm down, calm down, calm down, no matter how you have been flamed. These red coats and agents get whinning, screaming, mad people all the time. Be the exception. And don’t take no for an answer. This all sounds so simple, but not that simple when you have been hurt or feel wronged.

  2. I agree with Byron but in addition, greasing the wheels with chocolate can make all the difference in the world.

  3. Today I experienced several NOs from Delta. I need to change my fly. My original fly is from Dallas to Newark and need to change from Dallas to Atlanta. No matter what the options I put on the table I am being charged $200 fee plus the difference in fare. I decided not on argue or continue begging for an accommodation. I have 3 more flights in the book with them the same week and no cigar from the Delta CSR.

    I am even considering standby the same day to avoid a 290 charge

  4. Agree with @Bryon on being calm and polite.

    Agree with @Wayne on chocolate, especially if can be given to the agent discreetly…especially especially (intentional duplicate!) if the masses are readying pitchforks and torches due to inopportune flight delays and crappy automatic rebookings!

    The best strategy I’ve found for getting to YES is — and thanks go to @Rene for this tip in several earlier posts — whether in person or on the phone, have an alternate route plan B, (and consider back-up routes C & D,) with flight numbers ready. Being prepared and flexible is the least I can do to make the agent’s job easier, allowing them some proverbial ‘room to breathe’ with my goal in mind, not SNAPP’s. 🙂

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