SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While there has been a lot of recent discussion about United Airlines dragging a bumped customer off a plane, earlier in April more than half a million Delta customers were dealing with a travel nightmare of their own.
The so-called “Delta meltdown” raised a number of question about the rights of travelers when flights get canceled days after a weather event.
With over 4,000 canceled flights, Consumer Watch heard from many frustrated Delta passengers, including some in the travel industry.
While United Airlines hijacked the spotlight with the viral video of Dr. David Dao being dragged from a flight after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight, the Delta Airlines nightmare was no laughing matter.
After checking bags in Savanna on April 8th, Delta customer Jenna High and her family learned their flight was unexpectedly canceled due to issues related to a severe weather event four days earlier in a different city.
“We had no luggage, no car seat, no transportation, no hotel. Nothing,” said High.
While Delta somehow sent their luggage on to San Francisco, it couldn’t get the family on a flight for three days.
The High family was left stranded with three kids, including one sick with pneumonia. There was no offer to help with a hotel or basic necessities, which are outline in the contract of carriage.
“We had food from the downstairs lobby. Cup O’ Noodles, Cheetos,” explained High.
Travel analyst Henry Hartevelt was also caught up in the Delta meltdown, which he says was due to poor planning for a forecasted storms.
Delta has dropped the ball. Unlike a snow storm when Delta and others will proactively cancel flights, Delta didn’t think they’d need to for that in this case. And they got caught, said Hartevelt.
He explains that mid-week storms in Atlanta and New York led to canceled flights nationwide up to 5 days later.
And while their contract of carriage does limit liability due to weather, there was a larger problem in this incident.
In this case, that’s just bad management, said Hartevelt.
In a statement, the airline says it’s offering a $200 travel voucher or 20,000 miles to all impacted customers. The airline admitted that it’s “response in the days following the storm was out of character.”
“They didn’t give us any options,” said High.
After spending eight hours on the phone and sending emails that bounced back, Jenna High turned to Consumer Watch for help.
After contacting Delta, the airline still has not agreed to reimburse their expenses incurred along with the travel vouchers. A representative explained it will take care of affected customers, but it is dealing with an understandable backlog.
In these situations, travelers should always ask to be flown on another carrier. If you end up paying to travel on another flight, passengers should demand a full refund and not a travel voucher.
Article by CBS San Francisco (c) CBS San Francisco - Read full story here.