Geeks With Blogs
Kevin Rohling Building great s0ftware, 1 line at a time.

So I had hoped my first blog post would be along the lines of .NET development but it looks like it was Delta that motivated me first.  Stand by for some fun with LINQ to SQL coming soon!

Dear Delta Customer Care,

I remember being about 8 years old the first time I flew Delta.  To this day I remember being taken to the cockpit and being awed by the array of buttons, gauges and instruments.  In fact, I still have a toy Delta aircraft and a pair of wings from that trip, although they are buried deep in boxes by now.  I remember how Delta was, and it is unfortunate that today, December 29th 2008, I am sitting frustrated and wondering what happened to that Delta?  The reason I write this letter is to describe in detail how the indifference and mistakes of numerous Delta employees resulted in not only the worst flying experience I have ever had but also a customer service experience that is rivaled only by check outs at the Wal-Mart on the bad side of town.

After spending Christmas with my family in the Newport News, Virginia area I was set to return home to Orlando on Saturday 12/27 with my flight (Delta 4968) leaving at 5:00pm.  I arrived with plenty of time and sat waiting for my flight when right before the passengers started to board my name was called on the announcement system and the attendant asked me to sit down and wait.  When I asked what the problem was she simply instructed me again to sit down and stated that she would give me more information in a moment.  I watched as all the other passengers boarded, this was about when I started to get the feeling I wasn’t going to make my flight.  I then watched the Delta attendant close the door to the boarding ramp and start typing away on the computer.  At this point I knew something was up so I approached the attendant again.  This time, without looking up, I was told that the flight was oversold and I was being transferred to a flight out of Norfolk, Virginia taking off at 7:20pm.  (No “I apologize sir”)

My next step was to see someone at the Delta check-in desk (still in Newport News).  When I tried to hand my flight information to the attendant and explain my situation he pointed to the Self-Check In kiosk.  I tried scanning the barcode, no luck, the screen says See Attendant; I laugh a bit to myself.  I manage to get the same attendant’s attention and after he makes several attempts at scanning my paper work, the decision is unanimous, we need a supervisor.  Eventually I get a supervisor, explain my situation, and she immediately looks down and starts typing away (No “I’m sorry for your inconvenience sir”…).  After about 15 minutes of typing away and printing out vouchers goes by she finally hands me everything I need to get going.  At this point it’s 6:15, I’m 45 minutes from the airport and no one has acknowledge or even treated this like anything other than business as usual, even worse I’m feeling like there’s something I did wrong (I am Jack’s sense of frustration).  I mention to the “supervisor” that she’s the 3rd person I’ve spoken to without getting an apology or even an acknowledgement that I’m being inconvenienced.  Her response?  Go tell Travelosophy to stop overbooking Delta flights.  Yes, she pronounced it Travelosphy, and I’m starting to get the feeling this night isn’t going to end well.

Skipping ahead to Norfolk: Thanks to my nicotine fueled cab driver, I make it to the airport before 7:00pm and when I reach Delta Check-In I’m told that my flight has been delayed.  The bad news?  This means I’ll miss my connection in Atlanta.  Furthermore, the next flight isn’t heading out until 7:00am the next day.  Looks like I’m spending the night in Norfolk…  The good news?  Someone finally acknowledged I’m being inconvenienced.  Once I accept my fate and get over it, I ask the Delta attendant where I’ll be staying that night.  She says that they will be giving me a voucher for the Holiday Inn and nonchalantly mentions that this will be at the Inconvenienced Passenger rate.  The Inconvenienced Passenger rate?  I told her I assumed that rate was zero, after all Delta was the one who Inconvenienced me!  Imagine my surprise when I discover that this rate is not zero.  I couldn’t tell you what the rate is because I didn’t ask.  Instead, my next request was for a supervisor.  The supervisor, after listening to several minutes of my pleading, eventually resigned to comp’ing my room.  Can you believe that I had to convince a supervisor?!  Was this a dream?  I started pinching myself… It was not a dream.

5:50am on Sunday, 12/28: I arrive at the airport, as instructed, before 6:00am.  Apparently Delta had booked my flight with US Airways, in my head I applauded their willingness to look for flights with other airlines, very “out of the box” I thought.  My applause suddenly stops when the US Airways agent tells me my flights were never confirmed and that there were no seats available.  Moments later I’m back at the Delta Check-In counter explaining what has happened (the story is getting longer).  She starts looking for flights and tells me the next flight that could get me to Orlando is Monday.  Keep in mind that I have just dragged myself out of a very comfortable hotel room bed and that it is just after 6:00am on Sunday.  I assumed she had looked around at Newport News but I thought I’d ask anyway.  “Oh, you want me to try Newport News?”  Well… yeah.  She tries NN and great news, there’s 3 flights heading to Atlanta and 2 different connections to Orlando!  I’m pretty good at this; maybe I should reconsider my career path?

Back in Newport News: It’s just after 7am and I’m Standby for a 9:30am flight and an 11:50am flight, and worst case I’m confirmed for a seat on a 12:50pm flight.  Also, I’m trying to figure out how to position my body so that I can fall asleep on airport chairs that do not have adjustable armrests.  I did not find a solution to this problem.

Finally: I did not catch either of the Standby flights.  Furthermore, my 12:50am flight did not leave the ground until shortly after 2:00pm.  Fortunately, I managed to catch my connecting flight in Atlanta as well (also delayed).  What time did I finally land in Orlando?  8:30pm. 

Time since original departure:

27 hours 30 minutes


Time to drive from Newport News, VA to Orlando, FL (according to Google Maps)

                11 hours 51 minutes


After Arrival (We’re not done yet): By the time I arrive in Orlando I’m exhausted, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 2 days, and I’m wondering if it’s really over, am I really home?  I pinch myself some more, still not a dream and this time I’m happy.  I stop by Baggage Service to get my luggage.  Yes, I have been without my luggage throughout this entire ordeal.  I would like to mention Madonna S., the representative assisting me at Baggage Service in Orlando.  I explained my entire story; all the while she apologized and recognized that this was a major “inconvenience”.   My advice to Delta, promote Madonna S. and fire everyone that works at the Newport News airport.  After listening to my entire long winded and emotional spiel she tells me that the computer shows I volunteered to be bumped from my original flight.  I explained that this was either a mistake or an outright lie (I am Jack’s sense of betrayal) and that it was most absolutely involuntary.

Madonna again apologizes and explains that the only compensation she can offer is a $100 voucher.  I politely refuse to accept $100 as a sign off for this fiasco.  After all, I’ll have to take a vacation day from work now to run all of the errands I’d planned on taking care of on Sunday.  Madonna agreeably offers their Corporate Customer service number as an alternative.  Which I accept, then take my baggage and upon arrival at home, sleep like a rock.

Today: Today I called Corporate Customer Service only to be told by “Minnie” (probably not her real name) that Corporate Customer Service no longer accepts complaints over the phone.  Instead, she directs me to Us where I can complete their online form and post my complaint electronically.  One second…  so Delta kicks me off of my flight because they over booked it, sends me back and forth between two airports, holds me hostage for 27’ish hours without my luggage (fortunately tooth brushes are free at Holiday Inn), tells me to pay for my own hotel room, and not even to mention all of the rudeness I’ve dealt with up to this point, and you want me to submit my complaint on!  The agent hangs up…

At this point I was getting ready to drive back to the Orlando airport to speak with Delta in person.  If nothing else, I could let them know that they no longer accept complaints via phone.  Before walking out the door I figure I’ll try Customer Service one more time.  This time I’m shocked when I get a totally different response, apparently Delta does take complaints over the phone!  Apparently the previous Delta representative just didn’t want to take a complaint over the phone!

Fortunately, the second representative, Ms. Roberts in Tampa, was understanding and apologized.  She too offered me a $100 voucher for my inconvenience and stated that for anything further I would need to write/fax a letter.  I again refused to accept the $100 and this is that letter.

In Summary:

·         A Delta representative in Newport News Involuntarily removed me from my flight and then recorded it as Voluntary.

·         I spoke with 3 Delta representatives in the Newport News airport without a single one of them apologizing or even acknowledging that I was being inconvenienced.

·         After arriving in Norfolk and missing the only other flight that evening Delta wanted me to pay for my own hotel room.

·         Delta either failed to secure my flight for the next day or failed to mention that my status was Standby.

·         It took 27 1/2 hours to get me from Newport News, VA to Orlando, FL.  See aforementioned driving time.

·         A representative from Delta’s Corporate Customer Care outright lied and said that they no longer accept complaints over the phone.

·         My weekend was shot and I have had to take a vacation day today to take care of everything I had planned on doing before returning to work.



·         Thank you to Madonna S. who works the Baggage Service counter at the Orlando airport.

·         Also a thank you to Ms. Roberts with Corporate Customer Care in Tampa, FL

·         Tracey G. from the Newport News airport is incompetent, slow and rude.  She’s probably better suited to flipping burgers than representing a company like Delta.

·         Minnie from Corporate Customer Care should be fired immediately for outright lying to a customer.  However, that’s probably not her real name so good luck with that one.


Thus far Delta has given me a $400 credit voucher and offered me a $100 cash settlement for this disaster.  The last thing I want to sound like now is a gold digger but I believe that when a company wrongs a consumer, especially when it is exacerbated by the indifference and incompetence of their own employees, they have a unique opportunity to prove the strength of their brand.  I’m giving Delta that opportunity now.  I don’t want your $400 credit voucher; this is the same thing you give customers that voluntarily bump from oversold flights, very different situation here.  Also, you can keep your $100 cash settlement.  Honestly, that’s a little insulting; my vacation day is worth more than that.  What’s fair compensation for something like this?  I’ll leave that for Delta to decide.  If they ask me, I’ve always wanted to go to Capetown, South Africa.



Posted on Monday, December 29, 2008 11:36 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Dear Delta Customer Care

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
I had a very similar experience with Delta last year. It sucked. The part that really stood out was the in-airport staff telling me "go see so-and-so" and then "so-and-so" telling me I needed to go back to the person who sent me. I finally (literally almost) dragged the first person over to the second one and said "Look you both work for the same company, figure this out, NOW!" They never did offer me any vouchers but then again I didn't get held hostage for 27 hours, just 5 while I waited for another flight.
Left by Lou on Dec 30, 2008 7:00 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Unfortunately it is not only Delta; American Airlines uses the same Customer Service manual...on the other hand, they did not read the chapter on making the customer pay for the hotel room; they actually paid for dinner, hotel, and breakfast (dinner and b-fast were set credits but it helped).
Left by Andres on Dec 30, 2008 12:08 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
I just got back from a 29 hour nightmare from Caracas to Atlanta with Delta (in excess of 23 hours from the original flight schedules), and they tell me to email them, no phone numbers, nothing. I guess I too will be writing to the corporate office.
Left by Sarah on Jan 06, 2009 2:32 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Hey Sarah, if you come back here's their Corporate Customer Care number:
800-335-8241 Option 6
Left by Kevin Rohling on Jan 06, 2009 6:16 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
I just had the WORST flying experience of my life thanks to Delta. This is my first AND my last time ever flying with them. I had a similar situation (it's so frustrating not having your luggage for days) from Rochester - Atlanta - Tokyo.
Left by Christina on Jan 07, 2009 10:39 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Christina, sorry to hear about your bad experience. Hopefully your tooth brushes were free. The only upside to my trip was my Holiday Inn stay was spent w/ Northwest flight attendants in the hotel bar. Was lemonade from delta's lemons :)
Left by Kevin Rohling on Jan 08, 2009 3:11 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Here's the response I've received thus far. I'll be sure and post any further follow up:

Dear Mr. Rohling:

Thank you for your correspondence regarding your recent trip with our Delta Connection partner, Atlantic Southeast Airlines. I regret the circumstances you described and appreciate your taking the time to share the details.

Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) is one of our Delta Connection partners. Since the circumstances you described involve ASA?s operations, your correspondence has been forwarded to our partner for review. We know our concern will be shared, and you should receive a reply as quickly as possible via U.S. Mail. For your reference, ASA?s address is as follows:


Again, thank you for writing. We appreciate your selection of our Delta Connection partner and will always welcome the opportunity to be of service. Should you need to contact us in the future, or find information about our service or operations, please visit us at


Customer Care
Left by Kevin Rohling on Jan 09, 2009 5:57 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Back in the day (December 19th, 20th and 21 of 2001) I got bumped by Delta in Atlanta (on a flight headed to Guadalajara, Mexico).

I received one voucher for $700 plus first class, food and The Westin the first day. Second day $700 and again first class (including entry to the International Lounge which was then incredible), and third day I received a $1000 check (cash) plus a $500 voucher but I had to fight for it because I was then 18 and they thought they could trick me. I returned on the third day cuz I was sick and tired of fighting with them...

Go figure
Left by M.R. on May 06, 2009 10:27 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
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To Whom
I am a very upset customer, I and Father of the bride was attending our daughter's Wedding in Lafayette LA , coming from Philadelphia airport on Oct 14 we was staying till Sun Oct 18. I check my bag in and that was the last time I seen the baggage, We had all of our personal things and all of our clothes in this baggage . We have save for this trip for 1 year.
Because of a personal mistake with our baggage our trip was not like we had planned it to be.
When calling Delta's lost baggage customer service sucks! No one cared or was concerned about our problem.
No one ask if we needed anything!!!!!
We spent hrs on our cell phones trying to locate our baggage and again no one at Delta cared!!!!
I spent two days trying to buy clothes and formal clothes th have for this Wedding that ment so much to my husband, We had to use the money that we had saved up for this trip on New clothes and personal things!!!
Still no one from Detla CARED!!!
So not only did they mess up with the baggage they also messed up our whole TRIP! it Was wasted time we spent, when we needed to be with FAMILY!
We are now home a day later and they just call me from Phila airport to let me know I can pick up my baggage!!!
I told them They will need to deliver it to me.
Now I am trying to locate a Corporate number and I am once again getting the run around!!!
They need to pay for all of this
Carol Brown
Left by Carol Brown on Oct 19, 2009 10:42 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
this past summer, we were on a delta flight overseas to a funeral. delta overbooked the flight, told us we couldn't get on the plane because there were no seats left, and told us they couldn't get us where we were going until 24 hours later. we waited around until after the flight left hoping for a seat, but no dice.

when we complained to delta about the ordeal later, they told us they didn't owe us any compensation because the plane left with empty seats! then after a prod from the DOT they offered the $400 vouchers that they gave to voluntary bumpees. this is after we paid about $1300 for the flight that we were bumped from. they've got to be kidding.

anyway, we'll be complaining to the DOT again. everyone here should do the same.
Left by curious on Nov 11, 2009 1:12 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Another "Delta lies" story and more... Attempting to fly out of Bloomington, IL, Sept 20, 2009, the flight was canceled due to "weather" delays. Yes the weather was not good (raining). But then a mechanic, tool box and all, shows up at the plane as we're all standing there watching out the windows (it's fairly small airport). The mechanic opens a hatch on the bottom of the plane and stands on his tool box to get up into the belly of the plane - disappearing into it. Low and behold, after two more "weather" delays (almost two hours later), they make this announcement: "while on the weather delay we decided to check out the plane and found a mechanical problem with the plane. We need a part, which will be coming in from Atlanta on the next flight."

You've gotta be kidding! How stupid do they really think people are?? Flat out lies!

Well, the part never showed up (that flight cancelled also).

I've now called Delta Corporate Customer Care (800-335-8241) FOUR times trying to get my lousy $20 checked baggage fee refunded. I've been assured each time I'd have it in 7-10 business days, in the form of a check sent via snail mail. They didn't have a problem IMMEDIATELY charging my credit card, why can't they issue the credit the same way? We'll see if it shows up this (4th) time I've been assured it would.

Incidentally, regular Delta Customer Service did NOT want to give me the number for Customer Care, but I found it anyway.

How do companies like this survive?

Left by TR on Jan 11, 2010 9:56 AM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work.
Left by cash for gold tampa on May 26, 2010 11:34 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
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We travelled on Delta Flight dated Dec 3 from Atlanta to Trivandrum (India) via Dubai with 2 Infants. The Flight got delayed and as a result of that we missed the connection flight (Emirates Airlines) as soon as we landed in Dubai. The Local Delta Officer in Dubai asked us to get in touch with the Duty officer (Nihad) of Emirates airlines and as per that we contacted him. As per his instruction he put us as standby passenger for the morning flight at 4 AM on the 4th of Dec. We got stranded in the Airport with 2 infants from 9 PM to morning 4 AM. Later only when we went to ask them the status they told us that, the flight is full and there is no way to get seats on Emirates for next 3 days. Our Infants got tired as we were out of milk, diapers and dress. We tried to reach the Delta/Dnata in Airport, as they didn’t give any directions on what to be done. They asked us to get in touch with local delta office outside the Airport. I took a hotel room with my own expense in the Dubai Airport. That cost us around 250 USD. Meantime we got in touch with the local Delta office several times. Unfortunately they didn’t help us in any way and always their answer was sorry. Condition and necessities of kids were getting worse. There was no food or water provided for the kids. Uncertainty continues even after 24 hours in the Airport with 2 Infants. Finally we decided to buy tickets on Gulf Air to continue our journey. Paid 1000$ again to get 4 tickets to Cochin in Gulf Air via Bahrain. Again we were unfortunate because there too we missed the flight. We finally reached our destination delayed by 2 days. (We Reached on Dec 7 instead of Dec 5).
This was not our expectations when boarding the flight from Atlanta. Such poor service will surely be bought out to the public. I didn’t realize that Delta could be so irresponsible for their passengers! Even on the return trip from Dubai to Atlanta on Dec 31 (DL 00007), Delta flight took off late by almost 2 hours. The customer service on flight was even worse, so rude was two of the airhostess. They even forcefully removed the sleeping elder kid from the Bassinet saying that the kid was over 25LBS even thought she was only 23LBS.

After online complaint, delta ridiculously offered a 125$ vocher which I didn't accept...still searching for an answer in the wilderness to recoup all the unnecessary money that we spent in the trip.

my advise is, never ever promote delta...even if it is free.
Left by moncy on Jan 26, 2011 1:35 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
Requesting Gravatar...
Honestly, accept whatever they're going to give you, even if it's insulting. Their vouchers are transferable, so if you don't want it, you can give it to your family/friends. Delta deserves to pay for what they've done to you, and assume they've done this to 4 other people today. That's 4 x 365 = 1460 people a year, and if they offer $500 vouchers to each, that's 1460 x 500 = 730,000. Of course, this is only the major screw-up, and they have to appease tons of others, i'm sure. Are you really going to give up the chance for Delta to lose that much money? They deserve it. So accept the voucher, unless you're planning a lawsuit (which is more expensive to the airline, and more inconvenient)
Left by SJ on Jun 24, 2011 3:56 PM

# re: Dear Delta Customer Care
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Left by ALEXANDRIA KIGGUNDU on Jul 25, 2012 8:20 PM

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