A glitch in Delta’s website bumped Jesse’s return date up by a month, which sort of interfered with his travel plans when he showed up at the airport to check in. Here’s the complaint letter he sent to Delta, and their response.
On February 12, 2009, I arrived at Newark-Liberty Intl Airport to take a return flight home from a business trip. The automated kiosk was unable to locate my reservation and I had a gate agent assist me. The gate agent found that my return flight was booked for March 12, not February 12. She then gave me the number for Delta customer service so I could try and figure out how to fly out that day.
While I was making the call, another gate agent, Samantha B., asked me to come over to the counter so she could assist me. She explained that a website glitch had caused several other travelers to have their flights booked for next month as well despite specifying the correct date on Delta.com. Had I checked the e-mail confirmation, I would have caught the error and been able to correct it prior to travel. Samantha did a great job at re-booking me for a later direct flight and handled the situation very well.
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there. The flight I had originally planned to take would have left at 10:55AM that morning; the new direct flight left at 5:10PM. Later that afternoon, I was notified that the flight was delayed until 8:10PM, then 8:30PM, then 8:55PM. The plane did not actually leave the gate until 9:20PM and had to spend 45 minutes on the tarmac since we were 20th in line for takeoff. This new flight ended up arriving in Salt Lake City at 12:40AM, over 8 hours after I had originally planned to arrive back home. The flight was also very uncomfortable as I had spent nearly 12 hours sitting in the airport in uncomfortable chairs only to spend nearly 5 more sitting on the plane.
Granted, I should have reviewed the confirmation e-mail to catch the Delta.com website glitch that fouled up my booking, but I think it a reasonable expectation that if I specify a date, the website should not attempt to automatically change it. The website glitch cost me a very significant chunk of my day and left me unable to return to work today due to a lack of sleep. (I’ve never been able to sleep on planes, so this was not an option.)
Since my employer has paid for the travel costs, I would like to seek compensation in the form of additional frequent flier miles in an amount you deem appropriate. I would appreciate a quick response in this matter.
In less than 24 hours, I got the following response:
Dear Mr. Harris,
Thank you for your e-mail describing the inconvenience you experienced due to flight irregularities. We’re sorry you were inconvenienced.
Your time is valuable, and operating on schedule is equally important to us. In the process of providing air service over many different routes each day, we sometimes encounter mechanical problems, adverse weather, air traffic restriction’s and other unavoidable interruptions. These are situations faced by all airlines and no carrier can guarantee that all flights will depart and arrive as planned.
We apologize for the difficulties you encountered due to a problem on delta.com. We have received reports like yours, for some customers, when selecting the return date and purchasing the ticket, the date will book a month later. While the customer is given several opportunities to review their itinerary choices before purchasing the ticket, some customers miss the opportunities to review and end up purchasing the wrong return date. Our website development team is dedicated to continuously improving our site to minimize this technical difficulty. Your valued feedback will help us to eliminate the problem you encountered.
As a goodwill gesture, we have credited your SkyMiles account with 5,000 bonus miles. They may be applied toward the travel award of your choice, and the adjustment will be noted on a future statement. You may also view your account balance online at delta.com.
Again, thank you for writing. Please accept our apology for the inconvenience you experienced. We look forward to serving you under better circumstances.
Mark P. Benson
I really like flying Delta since they have a hub in SLC and things usually go a lot smoother than this. Good job, guys!
(Photo: Andrei Dimofte)