If I do not post too much this week, you can attribute it to Delta Airlines leaving my family stranded in Atlanta for a day. It would have been two days if we had just accepted Delta’s eventual rescheduling of our trip home from vacation.
It seems a busy holiday weekend and a short weather delay in Atlanta caused Delta to become a bit unhinged. Yes, Delta can’t control the weather, but Atlanta is the center of the Delta universe, their home, the place where they should best be able to respond to any break down. Plus it isn’t like a weather delay is some sort of rare thing in Atlanta.
And while I am sure most people got where they were going, that was small comfort to those of us stuck in Atlanta and waiting in 200+ person line at 11pm at night, having missed our last chance stand-by flights, to be able to use a help-desk phone that routed to a call center in India with no apparent authority to alter anything pre-determined by the Delta re-routing subroutines that seemed bent on scattering the ten of us, including five children, both in time and in space. (Grand and prolonged tours of popular US airports was not on our agenda.)
My wife can be defeated on the phone by a powerless call center, but never in person. So after a couple of hours sleep in the Hampton Inn North, which I recommend as they have “traveler in need” kits with basic supplies like toothbrushes and deodorant, it was back to the airport to try and secure passage home in person. (Delta gave us a discount coupon for a 1-star hotel that we declined to use, as the discount seemed to be minimal at best. The days of airlines putting you up because of a delay, or even booking you on another airline to fulfill their manifest responsibility of getting you where you’re going in a timely manner have fallen by the wayside.)
While I am in software development, my wife comes from a background in sales. She is friendly, endearing, and people empathize with her plight. We got up to the ticketing counter and I let her go to work while I stood back looking bleary-eyed and miserable (no need to act, we were on our second night in a row of little sleep).
Fortunately, a travel plight that involves children is hard to ignore when they are there in front of you, and the woman at the ticketing counter went to the mat for us to get us out of Atlanta and home that day. (And she had to jump some hurdles… it appears that you cannot go stand-by for a flight on a day if you have been rebooked for the following day.)
So while Delta the corporate entity left us stranded, they do employ good people whose main problem was being in short supply in a desperate time. It is too bad that the company put them in that situation. We all arrived in Atlanta to the message that a gate agent would be available to help us with our problems after we deplaned, only to find a harried individual who could only point us towards the long line to the help desk.
We are all home now, exhausted, but happy to be done.