Victory! (Delta Airlines Customer Service)
I had some last-minute travel in April, and I ended up being able to take advantage of Delta’s medical airfare program to get a modest discount on a flight leaving 3 days after I booked the ticket. Unfortunately, the trip didn’t turn out quite as planned.
Exhibit A: My plane
Exhibit B: My bed that night
Trying to get on that plane to go home was a comedy of errors. The weather influenced the situation, but the final reason we didn’t get to leave that night as planned was due to a mechanical issue. We were boarded, on the runway, and the machines were de-icing the plane when they announced us we’d be going back to the gate. Once back at the gate, we were initially promised a hotel room and an early flight out. All the hotels were full due to earlier cancellations, and our new plane wasn’t scheduled until 3 p.m.. The customer service agent also made an announcement that we were all getting $50. And a mat to sleep on (it was about 2 a.m. by this point).
By the time I got home the next day, I’d missed nearly 24 hours of the time I was supposed to be spending with my family. I sent in a complaint through the online system, and was awarded a small number of “we’re sorry” frequent flier miles.
A few days later, it dawned on me that I had never got a voucher or heard anything more about the $50 I was promised, and I was charged a $25 fee for booking my ticket over the phone. There is no alternate way to book a medical ticket and Delta’s customer service page says medical tickets are exempt from the phone booking fee. I sent off a quick note through the online system ask about these issues, figuring it would be an easy fix.
The online customer service informed me that they saw I was issued a $25 voucher that expired in a year, and “respectfully, it cannot be extended.” They also said they couldn’t refund my phone booking fee, and encouraged me to book online to avoid it. What?!?! I don’t think they read my question at all. There was no way to book online. I wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable, I was just asking for them to follow their own policies!
I tried again. This time they said they were mistaken, and I was issued a $50 voucher that expired in a year and again “respectfully, it cannot be extended.” I wasn’t asking for them to extend anything!!!!! How do I get the voucher?
I tried one last time, figuring I would call them if this failed again. Finally, an e-mail showed up containing a $50 voucher to use towards a flight. My request for a refund for $25 was bumped to another department for evaluation. A week later, I received another e-mail notifying me that they were going to refund the $25.
I ultimately got what I wanted (thank you Delta!), but whoever was handling my case was not very helpful at all. Other than that final interaction, I was fairly happy with how well Delta did, despite the circumstances. They also are committed to minimizing cancelations and keeping customer complaints down.
Lessons learned: Be persistent when you are due compensation. Know the airlines policies and make sure they follow them. Don’t leave the airport counter without a voucher if they said you were supposed to get one. And maybe use the phone complaint system first?