Here I am, writing this at LaGuardia Airport. I've been here since 9:30 this morning. It's now 3:55 p.m. on Thursday.
I'm trying to get to Charlotte, N.C. to represent my client The National Road Safety Foundation at the National PTA Conference, which begins tonight at 6:30. I'm supposed to be manning the client's exhibit.
My flight on Delta was supposed to depart at 11:10. When I got through security, the monitors said the flight was departing from gate C29. I went there, but the sign at the gate was for a different flight. I saw I had received a text from Delta, which said the flight was at a different gate in another wing of the terminal. When I got there, the sign at that gate was for a flight to Kansas City, leaving 5 minutes before my flight. There was no one from Delta at the counter. There were many passengers milling around, and none knew anything about the flight.
I walked back and found the Delta customer service center. The agent there had absolutely no information except that the flight was on time to leave from gate c21, where the Kansas City flight was about to board. So I waited there, just to have a place to sit
At the Delta terminal at LGA, they now have iPads at the seats, so I went on one and looked up flight info. The Delta site said the flight was departing on time from yet another gate. I knew this couldn't be accurate, since it was already close to 11:20 and the sign at gate c21 now did say Charlotte.
At about 11:45, some people were saying the flight was delayed till 1. I went to customer service, where they made some calls and learned the rumor was right...the flight was going out at 1:43. Gate still unknown.
I asked for a lunch voucher. The agent, a supervisor, said they only give vouchers if the delay is more than 3 hours. I said, you're going to let a difference of 30 minutes stand in the way of satisfying an upset customer? Its our policy, she said.
We did finally board for the 1:43 flight, after I received 3 different texts from Delta, each 2-5 minutes apart, saying the 1:43 would depart from three different gates. Got settled in, they closed the door and... we waited. After a few minutes, the pilot came on the P.A. and said they had discovered a dent on the wing, and the plane would need to be checked further. So we got off the plane, as they canceled the flight.
Of course, it was a madhouse at the customer service desk, although I was impressed with how calm the agents were. But then again, their travel plans hadn't been disrupted. One woman I spoke with was on the verge of tears because she was supposed to be in Charlotte for her niece's 6:30 wedding.
Delta told me I could be on their next flight out at 9... tomorrow morning. "Unacceptable," I said. "You will get me to Charlotte tonight."
The agent found a seat for me on a U.S. Air flight, going out from the same terminal at 6 tonight. So all is working out, at least so far.
My issue is not with the delays. Stuff happens. Planes break and need repair, weather makes a messs of things, computers go down. My issue is with Delta's total failure to communicate with passengers No one, even after I asked, got on the P.A. to tell us anything, even if just to say there were delays and that they had no further information. They told us nothing.
Some basic information and maybe some small niceties like offering everyone coffee or bottled water would have gone a long way in showing they really do care. A small and inexpensive gesture, along with some information, could have saved the day. Right now I'm looking at a bunch of people who, if they have the choice, will not choose Delta again.
Oh by the way, I am about to have dinner on Delta, using the voucher the airline ended up giving me.