Iced Out

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian.
bedrockI’ve heard lots of complaints about airlines of late, even from this very blog. (I think RepMan’s favorite airline might be United.) Reluctantly, I booked a flight with Delta because the fare was so low. My reluctance was due to issues friends and family have had with the airline— indefinite delays, horrendous customer service. But, I hadn’t taken Delta in a while, so I decided to judge for myself.

Yesterday, I was flying to San Diego from NYC, which, work trip or not, is a dream destination in January for those from the Northeast. Simply entering the terminal confirmed my fears that I had made a mistake. It was utter chaos. No one was helping travelers as they were trying to figure out how to check bags. There was a line literally to nowhere that had formed out of confusion— people thought it was a line to check bags or get help. An employee ever so unpleasantly yelled at the line of customers about which lines to be in. So, for me, based on this experience, I vowed to not fly Delta again.

Luckily, despite this first impression, we boarded on-time. But then our departure time came and went and we all just sat onboard waiting. But, I didn’t think much of it; I couldn’t wait to get to sunny California.

There was no explanation as to why we hadn’t moved, though we had already gone through all of the safety videos, the attendants had conducted their departure checks, and we had pulled away from the gate. Eventually the Captain came over the PA system and said we’d be moving shortly. However, still no explanation as to why we were already late.

When we were about 40 minutes past our departure time and still not moving, I took to my phone to see what was happening.

To my surprise, I saw that a Delta plane had skidded off the runway at JFK airport due to icy conditions. Not only was I on a Delta flight, but also at JFK. It had made news quickly and Delta and other airlines were canceling flights and closing the airport to clean up the mess.

Of course airlines should have been canceling flights and JFK should have closed. Safety should be thought of first and foremost. However, why was I still on a plane, not being told why we were delayed reading the news online?

I asked two active Delta handles what was going on and why our flight crew hadn’t announced what was happening. As of this morning I STILL haven’t received a response. Thank you for listening, Delta, and ignoring all of the tweets I sent. Were those handles supposed to be for customer service?

If you have bad news or news about safety, wouldn’t a brand want to tell that story and control it rather than not say anything and let your customers find out on their own? Not telling your story also allows customers such as I to wonder why exactly they chose to not tell us what was happening with our own flight. Was our plane safe? Were we stuck there indefinitely and they weren’t going to tell us how long?

These types of concerns are ones brands shouldn’t want their customers to be asking themselves.
Two and a half hours after our scheduled departure time, we were still sitting on the plane. Eventually they said “we should be moving shortly; the runways are icy,” and we left. It’s a bit terrifying to have read that a plane skidded off the runway at this same terminal and then start a high speed take-off.

We landed safely, though late and not with the friendliest of crew members.

Just a piece of advice, Delta (and all brands), as a customer I’d like to hear news directly from you especially concerning safety. I would not like to have to be so annoyed about something that I start searching online and then find out the issue on Twitter. And if I ask you a question via Twitter, you should respond from the customer service handle I tagged. I’m just glad my return flight is with American Airlines.


8 thoughts on “Iced Out

    • Aren’t all the US carriers except Virgin Atlantic, Southwest and JetBlue terrible at customer service? And two of those are no prize. The mergers only make it worse as there’s no real incentive to improve.

      • I’d say you’re right, Peter. But I have flown American the three times within the past six months and they have all been excellent experiences (surprisingly). I think JetBlue really sets the standard for great customer service and a fantastic social media program. That should be incentive enough for other airlines/brands to follow suit.

    • Or perhaps it should be “Never ready . . . and we won’t tell you why.”

  1. Great post Laura. I personally think Delta has one of the worst customer service divisions. The once changed a gate at ATL for a connecting flight and when I asked to which gate the attendant asked me if I could read the marquee. I sent an email to delta and never got a response.

    PR News posted an article this morning about how well Snapchat is about getting ahead of the story. Delta should take note.

    • Thanks, Nick! It’s stories like yours that made me not want to take that airline at all anyway, but now having my own story . . .

      I read that article as well and definitely agree.