Looking for an honest Delta Airlines review? Read on for more about my experiences with this airline.
I’d like to preface this review by saying that I’m a longtime Delta SkyMiles member and Delta American Express credit card holder. I have redeemed award flights with Delta and fly with them at least a dozen times a year.
That said, I can’t stand Delta Airlines.
There is only one single competent person working for them, and that person is manning their Twitter account. I’d like to give a shout-out to that person for being the voice of reason in a company otherwise filled with useless babble and infuriating run-arounds.
I’m not one to bash airlines. Despite a 24-hour delay in Venice and the calling of police to prevent a riot in the airport, I wrote a glowing review about Air Transat when their exceptional customer service team acted quickly to make amends after the fact.
Frankly, I don’t care much which airline I fly. My priority is to find cheap flights. It doesn’t matter to me if that flight is on Delta, Spirit or Alaska Air. I’m looking for the best deal to get to where I need to go.
Where the differentiators come in, however, and where these reviews are born are in the headaches often caused by travel.
Let’s be honest — actually getting to a destination is the least enjoyable part of a trip. The point in taking a flight is to minimize the amount of time you spend in transit. If it weren’t for the ease of crossing thousands of miles in a matter of hours, most of us would opt out of the hostage situation otherwise known as flying in the economy cabin.
The situation is so bad that the European Union has enacted strict rules about compensation in the event of flight delays, lost luggage or getting bumped off a flight.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has no such rules and U.S.-based airlines like Delta are shameless in pushing the boundaries of what they can get away with.
This post will include three separate examples of issues I’ve faced with Delta in the past and explain why, despite the (occasional) deal, they’re just not worth the headache.
Delta Airlines Checked Baggage Incident
I recently took a trip to Central Asia. The route was simple — Rochester, JFK, Moscow, Almaty on the way there and Bishkek, Moscow, JFK and Rochester on the way back.
On BOTH ways, my checked baggage was lost.
Now, I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you the level of panic that comes with arriving in a new country and realizing all the essentials you packed are nowhere to be found. I won’t focus on this, however, since we’ll give Delta the benefit of the doubt and blame Moscow airport for the disappearance.
It was a short layover, Moscow airport is ridiculously large and I barely made it on the plane myself while sprinting. I was almost certain the baggage handlers casually moving my bag with no sense of urgency would not make it.
But the route back was a different story. I knew my bag made it to JFK as I had to pick it up in customs. I expected everything would be smooth sailing since I had a 5-hour connection. Sure, JFK is big but it doesn’t take 5 hours to move a bag from one terminal to another.
I started to get nervous when I saw the bags being boarded on the plane as I waited by the gate. My bag is distinct, with a clearly identifiable pattern that is visible from afar. It was nowhere in sight.
I suspected the bag wasn’t going to make it, but I didn’t want to believe it. Sure enough, upon arrival in Rochester I waited until the carousel stopped, realizing that Delta had lost my baggage yet again.
Seeing as how I’d already braced myself, this wasn’t my biggest disappointment. I went to the lost bag center, filed a claim and was assured it would get sent on the next plane the following morning.
The following morning came and went. I didn’t receive an update. I most certainly didn’t receive my bag.
I then started the mission of trying to contact Delta and resolve this matter. I realized that I needed a claim number, and that the representative I spoke with the night before had failed to provide one, so I called the Rochester Airport to speak with that person and get the number.
This is the kicker, folks. When I spoke with the person who I filed the claim with originally, she said she only did a “paper claim” and no tracking number was generated. I had to actually ask for her to file a real claim and generate a tracking number almost 24 hours later. So the entire day I spent waiting for my bag was a waste of time, since the process didn’t even begin until that number was generated.
I have never heard such idiocy in my life. WTF is a paper claim?? How many claims do I have to file to get a tracking number and even get started on Delta finding my bag?
Like the number of licks it takes to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Once again, shout-out to the Twitter agent who actually tracked down my bag and got the matter resolved for me. Apparently the person working at the lost baggage center did not receive the same training as the social media manager.
Delta Airlines Customer Service Incident
It’s against the law to hold passengers on an aircraft that is sitting on a tarmac for more than 2 hours without food and beverage, and for more than 3 hours without allowing customers to deplane.
Recently, I was held on the tarmac for FOUR hours. The whole time we were ready for take-off. I know this because I tried to rest my head on the tray table and get some sleep but was reprimanded by a flight attendant as tray tables and seat backs need to be up for takeoff and landing.
So once I was woken up to sit upright and not take off, I went to work. I started Tweeting the representative, explaining my predicament. I took pictures of the plane, was texting my family throughout the experience and have various time-stamped messages which show that for 4 hours, I was sitting on a tarmac illegally.
The flight attendants and pilots were all apologetic, insisting that we contact Delta and complain because the situation was truly egregious. I did just that.
Nearly a month later I received a reply from the customer service agent. The only reason I even got a reply within that time was because I simultaneously filed a Better Business Bureau complaint.
This is the response I got:
Allow me to summarize this email for you in a few words:” blah blah blah, we DGAF about you, we refuse to admit to violating the law since that carries a fine, too bad so sad.”
Ms. Lisa Frank (I suspect this is a fake name as last I checked she was making unicorn folders) straight up DENIED that we were left on the tarmac for four hours. In her delirious little mind, we were brought back to the terminal and having a grand old time, eating and using the restroom like human beings.
This could not have been further from the truth. In this response, Delta not only negates the experience of an entire plane full of people but shirks its responsibility to provide compensation after leaving passengers stranded on the tarmac for several hours.
Here are text messages that I sent to my parents throughout this ordeal, while sitting upright with my seatbelt fastened on the plane mid-runway. Excuse the language and sheer despair, Delta brings it out in me and this was after 20+ hours of travel already.
The flight was supposed to depart at 3:59pm. As you can see, the first message was sent at 5:09pm, 2 minutes after the representative said the plane was showing as “IN.” Let me clarify what actually happened at 5:07pm.
After already being on the tarmac for more than an hour we were informed the runway was closing down because of weather and that we weren’t going anywhere.
It was at that time that I started to review the law on tarmac delays and voice my displeasure through Twitter and desperate messages to my family, who are obliged to love me even in moments of airline-induced insanity.
We were supposed to take off at 3:59pm. We were held on the tarmac until 8:01pm. No food. No water. Very limited bathroom use.
Once again, shout-out to the Twitter agent who issued me $100 in a flight credit as compensation. While minimal it at least showed an effort to right a wrong and didn’t call a customer a liar or fabricate times of departure, as Ms. Frank did.
Delta Airlines Carry-On Incident
A few Christmases ago I received a gorgeous Anne Klein carry-on bag as a gift. I don’t own fancy luggage. As we’ve established, I’m a bare minimum to get by kind of girl. I would buy the cheapest luggage, usually a nondescript black roller bag from Walmart or T.J. Maxx.
So having a fancy silver embroidered carry-on bag was a big deal for me. It was beautiful. I wanted to make it last as long as possible. Knowing this, I should’ve known better than to fly Delta.
I was going back to Florida after Christmas and had my roller bag in hand. At the gate they suspected the flight would be full so they started asking for volunteers to gate check their bags. I wasn’t going to do that. Annie (the name I gave my bag) was not about to be tossed recklessly into the cargo hold and squished by dozens of dirty heavy bags on top of her. I just got the bag and wanted to give it a few trips before allowing someone to treat it like crap.
As I was in line to board, the announcement went off again: “The overhead bin space is getting full and we’re still looking for people to check their bags.” One second later I went to scan my boarding pass when the agent tells me the bin space is full and I have no choice but to check my bag.
Between the announcement that the plane was “getting full” and the scanning of my boarding pass, not a single person had boarded the plane. So naturally, I was flummoxed as to how we went from “getting full” to “full” in an instant. I actually argued with the gate agent. I didn’t want to let Annie out of my hands. I explained that it was a gift and relayed my hesitations regarding careful handling.
The agent could not care less. Annie was taken to be gate checked, and I boarded the plane.
I just about lost it when I boarded to find no less than 20 overhead bins still open with space. I actually took a picture of every single open bin I passed and tweeted Delta with the hashtag, #DeltaLies. This was back when tweeting wasn’t really a big thing yet so my homie who’s managing their account couldn’t come to my rescue.
Annie made it out alive, though not unscathed, and that was the first time I realized that Delta’s customer service really leaves something to be desired. Since then, they’ve only outdone themselves in ineptitude.
I don’t want to be all negative. I will say that the one positive thing Delta has going for it is its collaboration with Kind bars, so that you get your choice of gingerbread cookies or a Kind bar when you’re on board (occasionally they’ll throw in Cheez-its too). I usually keep the bar with me as my go-to snack for whenever I land in a new destination, since you never know what the food situation will look like and I like to have backups.
Also, sometimes they have TV’s on the back of seats. Sometimes. That’s about all I can come up with.
The customer service agents (except for that one lone twitter hero) are completely incompetent and do not care at all about what happens to you. Lost luggage? Let’s fill out a piece of paper to make you feel better that has no actual effect.
4-hour tarmac delay in violation of federal law? Let’s just straight up say that never happened.
Overhead bin space? Hah! Not on our watch.
Finally, I will note that I drafted this article a few weeks ago but didn’t hit publish. It’s hard for me to write negatively about travel companies as I often try to give them the benefit of the doubt. But as I’m sitting in Wisconsin, stranded yet again after a tarmac delay with a flight that was outright cancelled, I decided it’s time to hit publish.
To underscore my point on how much #DeltaLies, when my most recent flight was cancelled I asked the agent for written proof of the cancellation. She said it’s public record. I need proof of the cancellation to send to the company I work with online and when I just did a status tracker to get it, this is what I saw:
To be clear, I am currently in Wisconsin. It’s roughly 9am the next morning and I’m sitting at the Holiday Inn American Center 2.7 miles from the Madison airport. But according to Delta, my flight took off yesterday. I really just cannot deal with the blatant, outright and shameless lies this company promulgates. It’s mind-blowing.
Steer clear. The wonderful thing about flying is that there is plenty of competition. You have options when choosing who you fly and based on my experience(s) I suggest that you fly with literally anyone but Delta.
If you’re looking for suggestions, click below to download a master list of budget airlines around the world. Once again, you got options. Stop spending your money on a company that doesn’t care about your experience.
Till next time, safe travels!