Tag Archives: delayed flights

A Great Delta Flight Experience With Rough Beginnings

Delta-airlines

We’ve all had those flights—when everything goes wrong. That’s exactly what happened on my recent trip on Delta, but it surprisingly ended on a high note.  Finishing a presentation in South Bend, IN with my co-worker last week; we were connecting through Atlanta on our way home to Salt Lake City, UT. A typical route for any seasoned business traveler, I boarded the plane expecting the usual. Little did I know the delays, complications and cancellations that were waiting for me. Over the course of the next few hours we would move from one plane, to another, and then to the third and final flight to finally get to Atlanta, only to miss my connection to Salt Lake City. Fortunately, I became better acquainted with some delightful fellow travelers and experienced Delta’s amazing employees and new technology in action.

Delta flight faces initial setbacks

The hiccups started when we spent the first 20 minutes on the plane waiting for a working deicing machine. Once we took-off, 15 minutes in to the flight our pilot announced we would be returning to South Bend due to a rudder problem.  Fortunately, our pilot was amazing.  He was informative, positive, and very concerned about his responsibility as our pilot. A few minutes prior to landing he then reassured us that protocol required fire engines and an ambulance to be waiting upon landing.  One passenger nearby was seriously upset about the possible negative outcomes.

We landed, moved everyone to another plane, and sat in the same seating.  The crew on board and the gate folks at South Bend were amazing—calm, informative, and respectful of all travelers.  They also announced that any connections leaving before 9pm would likely be missed, so travelers should reschedule. We pulled away from the gate and our pilot, who I affectionately dubbed ‘Captain America’, very calmly came out of the cockpit and used the loudspeaker in front of us. In a comforting and personal way, he announced that a sensor light needed to be repaired before we could take off.  Encouragingly, he said it would only take 10 minutes.  Personnel were already on their way to repair it, and then we would be off again, hopefully making good time to catch our connections.

Well, the passenger who lost it earlier, immediately hit her flight attendant button. Saying she had a bad feeling, she asked to be removed from the plane and would reschedule to fly tomorrow. The flight attendant, who remained kind and understanding, checked with the pilot and she was able to deplane.  After waiting more than 10 minutes, my co-worker and I both looked at each other— something must be up, again!  Captain America very apologetically stated that the crew was not able to make the repair. We would need to change to yet another plane!  Thankfully, there were additional Delta planes available in South Bend.  Feeling wary from sitting on two planes already, my surrounding fellow travelers and I quietly thought about rescheduling. Most of us realized though, that we had a better chance of getting home early tomorrow morning if we ended up in Atlanta, rather than South Bend.  We grudgingly accepted the bad news.

Delta professionally alleviated a very stressful situation

It was only a few years ago that this same situation would have required hours of standing in long lines. To my surprise upon landing, a notification from the Delta app popped up on my smartphone. With an acknowledgement stating how much Delta appreciated my patience and understanding, it included a list of 4 hotels from which I could choose to spend the night.  I also realized that after boarding plane number two, an email was sent explaining an additional amount of miles had been added to my Delta FFY account!

At 11:30 pm, standing in line at the service counter, feeling very tired and irritated, I thought to myself this is where I’m going to get a little ticked off!!  Amazingly the one and only service counter person directed us all to go to the machines provided off to the side. Instructing us to place our boarding pass code on the scanner to obtain our hotel voucher and boarding pass for our re-accommodated flight for the next day.  That was it! Off we went to catch the 24-hour shuttle to our Westin hotel.

Delta is truly providing great service their customers, even in the worst of situations. Though I was inconvenienced, my stress level was minimal, due to Delta continually striving to climb high in their customer service!  From their kind employees, to their app notifications, and their customer service kiosks, I felt taken care of every step of the way. Kudos to DELTA.

 

More About Delayed and Canceled Flights From the EU

Several months ago I did a blog outlining your rights when traveling domestically according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Now, I’m going to address your rights when flying into, out of or within the European Union.  These rights may conflict with the ones that the US DOT has set in place and as a distressed traveler you have the option of picking the one that best serves your needs.

In 2005, the EU put forth new regulations for all airlines servicing the EU.  These regulations were designed to give passengers some relief when their flights are delayed or canceled and to help protect them if the passenger was bumped. I will give you a brief overview of them and provide you a link to follow if you want more detail.

If your flight is delayed or canceled or you are involuntarily bumped, the airline MUST provide the following, 2 telephone calls or a fax or telex or an email, at no cost to the passenger. If the flight is a short flight, less than 1500 kilometers these rules apply after a two hour delay, if it is a flight between 1501 and 3000 kilometers, then they apply after a 3 hour delay. In addition, after 2 hours the airlines must provide you with written information explaining your rights and what government entity to file your complaint with. You also are entitled to snacks and/or meals depending on the length of the delay. If you are forced to overnight, the airline is responsible for your hotel room. On short flights that are delayed 2 hours or more, you are entitled to cash or vouchers worth 250 Euros, on longer flights the amount is 400 Euros and up to 600 if it is a greater distance than 3000 kilometers. So if you are delayed you should be getting money or vouchers, if you agree to accept the vouchers, if you don’t want a voucher, then they pay in money, electronic funds transfer or bank check.

What happens if they don’t give you the full amount? You file a complaint with the appropriate government entity listed on your form that the airline has to give you and have them pursue the matter on your behalf. If you are entitled to 250 Euros and the airline only gives you 100 Euros, the governing body will go after the airline for the remaining 150 Euros. The airlines cannot get out of paying the full amount just by telling you that’s all they are going to pay. They are still responsible for the full amount.

If the airline offers to reroute you and the arrival time falls within certain guidelines as laid out by the EU, then the amount of compensation may be reduced by as much as 50%. Basically if the offered scheduled arrival time is within 2 hours for short, 3 hours for medium and 4 hours for long distance flights, then the airline can reduce the amount paid out.

If there is a weather delay that directly impacts your flight, the airline may not be responsible however it must be impacting the specific flight you are on, not a cascading delay.

If you are involuntarily bumped, you get the same compensation as those who suffer delays, plus a refund for the unused portion(s) of your journey, as well as assistance in rerouting you either back to your point of origin or to a point where you can resume your originally scheduled travel.

As you can see, by comparison, the EU is stricter than the US DoT when it comes to air passenger rights.

I will admit that I know that the airlines continue to ignore the EU regulations, even when they are fully aware of them. However if one has access to the regulations, one can generally get better treatment from airlines servicing the EU. And no airline servicing the EU has the legal right to ignore these regulations so if an employee tells you that their airline doesn’t choose to participate, feel free to point out to them that if they serve the EU, they agreed to these terms in order to get the right to do so.

Here are Christopherson Business Travel we hope you will never need to exercise these rights however it is better to know about them and not need them, than it is to need them and not know them.