electronic brain surgery since 2001

Delta Airlines Sucks!

I'm currently sitting at home in front of my computer. That alone wouldn't be worth mentioning, if it wouldn't be for the fact that I should be in Orlando, Florida right now.

But let's start at the beginning. The original plan looked like this:

  • Friday the 23rd:
    • fly Delta Airlines from Berlin TXL to New York JFK
    • take a Delta Airlines plane to Orlando a few hours after arrival
  • See Disney World
  • Visit the WikiSym conference
  • Tuesday the 27th :
    • Fly back to New York City with Delta Airlines
  • Spend a few relaxing days in the Big Apple
  • Saturday the 31st:
    • fly back Delta Airlines to Berlin with lots of photos and happy memories

On Friday morning, I met my colleagues at the airport and we went to the Delta Airlines check in. And that's when it all started…

The girl at the counter couldn't check me in because “you have an e-ticket but somehow you don't”. What? I still have no idea what that was supposed to mean, but after 20 minutes or so she got it sorted out via telephone. Phew. Who cares that I couldn't sit with my colleagues because she wasn't able to do anything about that?

When we boarded the airplane, I was surprised. I did a few cross Atlantic flights during the last years and never sat in a plane where I did not had at least my own monitor in front of me. In fact most also had a movie on-demand and gaming system. The plane looked more like from the 80ies. But okay, it's just 8½ hours, I had a book and my laptop with me – enough to entertain me for a while.

We saw the security video and the plane made off to the runway. Then it stopped. And stood there for quite a while. Nobody payed attention to it, until the captain gave us the news: Something about some valves in the right engine wasn't right. We had to drive back to the gate and have a mechanic look at it.

A Mechanic at the Plane's Engine

The mechanics had a look at it. A long one. They first just tried to fix the problem by some “manual adjustments”. That didn't work. The captain told us they had to replace the valves. This took them more than an hour. Finally the captain announced that the mechanics finished and are now “doing the paperwork”. Takeoff in about 35 minutes.

50 minutes later we're back on our way to the runway when the captain stops the machine and tells us “Sorry problem still not fixed”. Back to the mechanics we go. At this time we were sitting for about 3 and half hours in the plane. During this time we got a cola and peanuts.

Another half hour later with no fucking information whatsoever, the captain is speaking again: the mechanics had identified the problem and it can only be fixed by replacing a whole part of the engine. That part would need to be flown in from Frankfurt and it would take at least another 4 hours.

Fuck. You'd think they would now make sure their passengers are comfortable, which they probably aren't very much after waiting it a fucking plane for 4 hours, right? Wrong!

The captain continued to explain: they only have certain duty hours after which they aren't allowed to fly anymore. So they are checking now with headquarters in Atlanta til when they could fly.

Did you get what happened there? They were checking if they could fly that plane after it had been repaired (which would be in about 4 to 5 hours) and did not let us out while checking for that possibility! Half an hour later they figured that their duty window had passed and began organizing busses to get us back to the terminal. Yes! Delta considered to let 200 passengers sitting in that plane for another 4 to 5 hours before an 8½ hour flight.

When we finally arrived in the terminal, chaos ensued. None of the Delta ground personal did have any detailed information. When one said one thing, another said the opposite. Many passengers where concerned about their connecting flights of course. And so were we.

After getting our luggage, we went to the Delta ticket counter, where a single elderly lady was the only one in charge of answering the customer's questions. We spent probably about 2 hours or more 1) until we finally could tell her about our connecting flight to Orlando. It took a while until she understood that we had booked this one separately from the flight to New York2) and that this meant it would not be automatically changed as she tried to make us believe. When she finally understood the problem she couldn't help. She as a Delta Agent couldn't rebook these Delta flights for us and we should try in New York when we get there.

Delta Agent: I can not help you. I called the highest position at Atlanta Headquarters and they told me you should ask at the New York Delta desk
Passenger: Oh! The highest position in Atlanta? Please give me the name of the one you talked to.
Delta Agent: I can't. It's always a different one. It's a call center.
Passenger: The highest position in Atlanta is a call center? Now that explains a lot!

While personal tragedies took their place at the ticket counter (a girl missing her sisters wedding, a groomsman carrying the rings with him, …) we went home. Tired and exhausted.

At least we had a new schedule. A new flight to New York would take off the next day at 9:00. Check-in at 6:00.

And there we were. A new day after a short night. There wouldn't be time for Disney World, but at least we'd make it to WikiSym on time. Or so we thought…

We checked in, no problems at all, went through the security and waited.

It was 20 minutes before 9 and there was still no call for boarding. It became 9:00 and there was no call for boarding. Meanwhile a few clever passengers had checked the flight number on the Internet. Estimated: 13:00. What the Fuck?

About 9:30 a Delta Airlines employee came in and read out a statement:

  • The machine still needs to be repaired.
  • A part has to be flown in.
  • That part would arrive at 12:30.
  • The machine would take off at 13:00.
  • Passengers can visit the restaurant “Take Off” for lunch at 10:15.

That's it. No explanation why they checked us in for a machine they knew was broken and wouldn't be available. No explanation what the fuck they had done since yesterday. No apologies.

Exhausted Passenger at the Restaurant

We went to the restaurant3) and discussed what to do. Even if the machine would really take off at 13:00, which we doubted heavily, we would arrive relatively late in New York. Even if we had no problems with getting a connecting flight to Orlando, we would arrive there very late at night.

This again would have made at least the 1st day of WikiSym a pain for sure. Without the conference the trip made no sense anymore and after spending 1½ days at the airport we were fed up with Delta's lies and non-informations. So we canceled the flight.

Even after the decision to cancel the flight Delta managed to continue fucking up our day. When we asked for our luggage, they told us to pick it up at the Airport customs baggage claim in an hour. When we asked for our bags there an hour later, they didn't even knew about it. Delta failed to tell them about our canceled flight. So we spent another hour or so waiting at the baggage claim.

So I'm really pissed about Delta. Sure a plane can break. And of course it needs to be fixed. But what I can not excuse is:

  • Leaving us locked in a plane
  • Not caring about our wellbeing (5 hours without food and drinks)
  • Not giving us any information what is going on
  • Lying about the plane's repair status and let us check in knowingly we wouldn't be able to fly
  • Generally being completely unprofessional with an unforeseen situation

So if you have a choice: don't fly Delta Airlines.

PS: I just checked the Delta website. The machine finally took off at 14:31. I wonder if they really boarded the machine at 12:30 as planned and let the people sit there for two hours again.

delta, rant, flight, airline, servicefail
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I lost a bit track on time somewhat by then
because of the delayed return from NYC
which by the way had a similar bad service as Delta's