Delta Gives 45-Second Consolation Talk After Crash Landing

Post-crash consolation talks have joined pretzels and pillows on the list of things no longer offered by Delta. NewsNet5 reports the airline gave terrified passengers a 45-second consolation talk after skidding their commuter plane off a snowy Ohio runway.

The supervisor did tell passengers to stay if they weren’t feeling well. To sum up her 45-second talk, she said, “That’s all. We don’t want to hold you up. We know that it’s been an upsetting afternoon and we certainly apologize.”

The talk came after Delta spent 45 minutes deplaning everyone. No wheelchairs for the elderly, no water for the passengers. Delta thinks the passengers are overreacting. According to Delta, “The plane landed and came to a stop at the end of the runway.”

We have flown before. Our planes landed and stopped at the end of the runway. Our planes did not:

  • Skid off the runway;

  • Crash through a fence;
  • Slam into a ditch;
  • Lose the nose gear;
  • Bust up any of the following: wings, engines, undercarriage.

One scared and scarred passenger summed it up well, saying, “They didn’t care and we had just been through the worst situation of our lives.” — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

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  1. bluegus32 says:

    Oh my God! I’m having flashbacks to my childhood when my father would look at me after I broke an arm or something and would say, “oh come on! That didn’t hurt.”

  2. Haplo9000 says:

    Years ago, my wife and I went to Cancun for our honeymoon. On the way back home, flying over the Gulf of Mexico on our way to Nashville, where we would catch a connecting flight, our cabin lost pressure. With no warning, the plane nosedived from 30,000 feet to under 10,000 feet. People were completely terrified, because if you did not know better, you would have sworn the plane was going to crash. After leveling out, the pilot came into the cabin, told everyone what had happened and answered questions.

    We stopped in New Orleans. The airline planned to take on more fuel and fly at a low altitude the rest of the way to Nashville. As you might guess, this did not go over well for MANY of the passengers, who wanted OFF the broken plane, thanks. Customs decided that they would not let anyone off the plane. The pilot, defying Customs, stuck up for the passengers with Customs right there on the plane, saying that people were terrified, that he couldn’t blame them, and that he wasn’t flying ANYWHERE with people that didn’t want to go. Customs had to relent and let us off the plane.

    The point is, sure, we were scared, but the pilot of this little airline took time explaining things to us, calmed people down, acted like a real person to people who were scared, and asserted their rights once on the ground. And Delta can’t be bothered to talk for a whole minute to people who basically crash landed on the runway?

    Frankly, I’m more likely to fly the little airline over Delta at this point, even though I personally have a scary experience with one, and none with Delta.

  3. critical_matt says:

    Reminds me of “Airplane!” when the flight attendants were thanking them for flying as they were sliding down the emergency slides after the plane crash landed.

  4. Dear Delta,

    Thank you so much for the last few years of flying pleasure. Even though you went through bankrupcy, I stuck by you. I just receieved my new Silver Medallion package yesterday. I thoroughly enjoy flying with you, not only because you fly to the cities I fly to without a hassle and because you are generally the cheapest, but because I’ve never had a terrible flight with you.

    However, I have some pointers for you in your coming out of bankrupcy quest:

    1. Have your flight attendents go through some sort of customer service training (maybe require it every 6 months). When the flight attendent gets hired, they know they will be on an airplane all day, with all sorts of passengers. One can only listen to a flight attendent complain or be super b1tchy before it gets old.
    2. Save some money on the medallion mailer packets (while they are super nice, this is my 3rd year of medallion status, and the packets are completely unnecessary) and give me something useful, like free drink coupons or a better snack, or a voucher to help my status for being bumped to first class.
    3. If I’m stuck on the runway for hours, please treat every situation as if it was your mother or father or small child stuck on that airplane (how would you want them treated??).
    4. If you crash/skid off the runway/have damage the the airplane, please provide more than a 45 second apology (see #3)
    5. If my flight is being delayed (especially at holiday time), please send more than 1 person to the counter at the gate. When the plane is delayed, the line to talk to the gate agent can get a hundred people deep. Not only does this anger/upset the passengers, but the gate agent gets super frustrated trying to figure stuff out with the plane and help the passengers.
    6. This may only apply to Las Vegas baggage handlers. In my experience, the amount of time it takes to get my checked luggage after the flight is easily 2x longer than in any other airport. Get some training in there/get some sort of auditor or consultant to figure out what the problem is. This doesn’t occur for the other airlines at this airport.

    Now this is all I can think of presently, but I know there is more.
    Please read and think about the points I have made. Delta has a lot of potential, however you are lacking in several areas.

    Thank you,

    12-inch

  5. lincolnparadox says:

    I’m surprised that all of the other travel industries haven’t jumped on all of this bad press. Amtrack, Greyhound and every rental car company in the country should be talking about their advantages (in customer service, quality and value). Sure, a train ride might take you 12 hours. A bus ride can take up to 24. Driving yourself is hardly fun, but Americans used to take road trip vacations 30 years ago and those old slideshows made it look like a bunch of fun.

    And if you think about it, if I wanted to go to Chicago, it would be an hour to get to the airport plus 2 hours at the airport plus 2 hours on the plane and an hour driving away from the airport. That’s six hours of time spent on what could be an eight hour drive. And that’s if everything goes smoothly.

    I’m think the next time I need to go cross-country, I might just try Amtrack.

  6. BillyShears says:

    lincolnparadox said: I’m surprised that all of the other travel industries haven’t jumped on all of this bad press. Amtrack, Greyhound and every rental car company in the country should be talking about their advantages (in customer service, quality and value).

    Dude, have you ever taken Greyhound? It’d be the very definition of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Amtrak’s another story, the quality of service (apparently) varies wildly depending on where you are and where you’d like to be. I’ve only taken their Northeast Corridor runs to and from college and to see friends in Boston. Absolutely zero complaints from me, but I know that people in other parts of the country would beg to differ.

  7. kerry says:

    @lincolnparadox:
    Amtrak used to be a viable option, but they’ve raised their ticket rates so high and cut service so much that they’re essentially useless. I used Amtrak to travel back and forth between the midwest and the east coast my first two years of college (I made something like 12 total trips) and I’d be glad to use them again for trips out east to visit friends and family, but they’re just too expensive.

  8. WindowSeat says:

    Our immigrant ancestors who braved the Atlantic in leaky wooden ships and the expansion Westward in covered wagons with starvation and rightously pissed-off Natives dogging their heels are having a bit of a laugh over this. Travel has never been 100% safe and it never will be.

  9. testkahuna says:

    You know what they say, any landing you can walk away from… Used to live in the FL Panhandle, Delta was about the only way out. The joke was if you live in the South, die, and are going to Hell – you’ve gotta go through Atlanta first. Loves me some Delta!

  10. And the national media is fully covering Jet Blue’s malfeasances? Despite sitting in a plane on the tarmac for many hours, I’m pretty sure the aircraft stayed intact.

    For the record, what does the flight crew say after something like this?
    “Yeah, ummm… we’re sorry”?

    And can the passengers immediately get on another flightm or does there become a new security issue? What about their luggage? I’ve never been amid an incident like this, so i don’t have any idea.

  11. Maulleigh says:

    I wouldn’t need water so much as a change of underpants.

  12. BillyShears says:

    The difference between Delta and JetBlue:
    One is trying to downplay the incident, shuffling the passengers off as fast as possible, and simply battling their claims with PR; the other offered one of the largest mea culpas directly from the founder and CEO in the corporate world and remedied it with new policy in less than a month.

    But of course, we all knew Delta sucked before this…

  13. chimmike says:

    if that was the ‘worst situation of their lives’ some of those people lead pretty sheltered lives. That was a relatively minor incident. They walked off unharmed. What are they expecting? A hug, a kiss, and a gold bar?

    I’m sorry it happened to them. It’s a risk you take when flying, and it wasn’t Delta’s fault, what more do they HAVE to do?

  14. acambras says:

    @chimmike:

    OK, so maybe Delta doesn’t care. But you would think, with all the recent media scrutiny, they would at least pretend to care.

  15. Coder4Life says:

    I think the situation could of been handled better, but you also have to think about the attendants. They were scared to, its not like you are the only one’s with family and friends.

    But yes, once they kenw that they were OK, they should of handled it much better. The pilot especially should of made some comments or apologized. Since he is in control.

  16. Joe Hass says:

    I would love to respond further to this post, but I am unable to reach the person who would allow me to do so further. When I am able to do so, I look forward to offer further comment.

    Suffice to say, the Cleveland news media (in particular, WEWS, the ABC affiliate who wrote the sterling piece of journalism quoted above that didn’t even bother to name the Delta representative they quote) has done a piss-poor job at reporting this story (one reporter at WOIO on the night of the incident slammed the pilots for landing in that weather, when I can tell you for a fact that weather at the time would’ve been no problem for an IFR approach into an airport in Class B airspace). So I’d take just about anything written by a local TV news department with a 25-pound bag of salt.

  17. stephen5 says:

    One scared and scarred passenger summed it up well, saying, “They didn’t care and we had just been through the worst situation of our lives.”

    “And now I’m suing!! Woo Hoo!! I have hit the jackpot, no more lottery tickets for me!! Easy street here I come!!”

  18. xenth says:

    @chimmike: I agree. I’m terrified of flying and I’ll be the first to ditch that flight if the pilot starts talking about delays for engine trouble but skidding and hitting a snowdrift isn’t that frightening.

    Maybe its just me but falling out of the sky and crash landing is my biggest worry. Once we’re on the ground safely, even if we’re moving, I don’t care what we slam into (aside from the fuel truck!) because I know the passenger compartment will be fine. We’ve got the luggage, wheels and a giant nose to protect us.

    It was a poor response by Delta but aside from a little excitement all the passengers walked off with was a good story.

  19. facted says:

    @lincolnparadox: Car rental companies? Customer service? Those two phrases should never be in the same sentence. Ever.

  20. kenposan says:

    @chimmike: That is pretty harsh. Guess you have your planes slide through fences and lose landing gears frequently that this shouldn’t be a big deal.

    No, it wasn’t Delta’s fault and no one is saying it was. What is being said is that their customer service following the accident was negligible.

  21. clbarrientos says:

    did they offer an oxygen mask?

  22. dancing_bear says:

    I miss those honey roast peanuts. That was class.

  23. itchy feet says:

    Delta blew this from a PR, customer service standpoint, but…

    A good landing is any one you can walk away from. A great landing is when you can use the plane again.

    So this one was just good.

  24. suckonthat says:

    The prices are the only things to keep me off of Amtrak. Like lincolnparadise said, it ends up being almost as long as a flight. Except you have a ton more space, stuff to look at out the window, a place to plug in a laptop, the dignity of not having to go through airport security (or having the cops harrass whomever is picking you up for, godforbid, waiting for you), gorgeous stations (in Philly and NYC anyways)…

    …but typically you can find a significantly cheaper flight than a train ticket. Though for other reasons (inefficiency and general ineptitude) I avoid Delta like something infectious.

  25. bearymore says:

    Falling out of the sky and crash landing is about the rarest kind of plane accident there is. On the other hand, overshooting the runway (which this accident clearly was) is a very serious matter. Suppose a wing is ruptured and fuel hits the hot engine — instant inferno. I fly a small plane out of an airport with a sheer 30 or 40 foot drop at the end of the runway. An overshoot as occurred at Cleveland could have dire consequences at an airport like that. I think the Delta agent was making a ham-handed attempt to limit the airline’s liability by treating a potentially serious incident as a minor bagatelle. It was idiocy to think that the passengers would buy it.

    On the other hand, last summer I was a passenger on a United flight from LA to Portland. Just south of San Francisco we lost cabin pressure at 33,000 feet. The pilot performed an emergency descent to 10,000 – perfectly controlled and hardly a nose dive. We landed at San Francisco and were quickly put on a new airplane to fly the rest of the trip to Portland. The loss of pressure, descent, and landing was essentially a non-event and was handled by the crew and the airline very professionally.

  26. eh, 45 seconds is fine. “it sucked, we’re sorry, we’ll fix it” is all everyone says anyway.

  27. Joe Hass says:

    Unfortunately, the person I needed to speak with to talk more about this (as I mentioned in a previous post) has politely declined (and had every reason to do so), so I’m kinda stuck in generality land on this.

    It’s important to keep in mind there are two groups of individuals involved on this: the flight crew (pilot, first officer, flight attendants) and the ground crew (station manager, gate agent, etc.) The reported 45-second announcement sounds as thought it was managed by the ground crew, as opposed to the flight crew (who just went through the same experience as the passengers). If you want to bitch about the ground crew, feel free. But let’s not talk smack about the pilot. It’s not as though he thought, “You know, I don’t need my ticket…let’s see how well I can do on a short-field landing!”

    Beary: Let’s not oversell the “it’s a potentially serious event.” Everything involved in a flight is a potentially serious event. Overshooting a landing (with much emptier gas tanks) is far less catastrophic than trying to come back down right after takeoff (with full tanks.) As for the “dire consequences” comment: They landed at CLE on 28. The only thing at the end of that runway is a chain link fence and a not-very-busy road; had they kept going, there is a line of trees and a river. In the grand scheme of things at the end of the runway that would be very bad to run into, I’d take that over a lot of other things.

  28. SexCpotatoes says:

    Aw, they’re just pissed because they didn’t get a free t-shirt. Equip every plane with a celebratory “I survived a Delta Airlines Plane Crash!” tees, and it’ll all be gravy.

  29. bearymore says:

    Joe Hass: I didn’t mean to imply that every overshoot is a disaster, rather that it is a serious, potentially life threatening incident. A quick perusal of the NTSB data base will back this up. The most recent accident similar to this was in December 2005, when a Southwest 737 slid off the end of a snowy runway at Midway in Chicago with 1 fatality. In 1999 an American DC-9 overran the end of the runway at Little Rock with 11 fatalities and 45 serious injuries. Certainly not as bad as a crash upon takeoff, but certainly not trivial.

    The passengers in this incident deserved a lot more consideration than they received.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Now if they would have concluded the landing solely with a terse (yet warm), “…and this concludes our in-flight entertainment. Thanks for flying Delta!” they’d have been my heroes.