The Fockery of Delta Airlines

This is an open letter to Delta Airlines, those bloody douche bag wankers.

To: The head dude/dudess at Delta

Re: An extraordinary customer experience.

Dear Delta Airlines,

I am writing to congratulate you for assembling a staff that provided me with extraordinary customer service this Sunday on October 17th at Kotoka International Airport in Accra. The staff of which I speak are those on the front lines – the ticketing agents and customer service reps who spared no effort in following to the letter what I can only assume are Delta’s rules and regulations concerning travelers to and from the country of Ghana. If your goal has been to train a dispassionate and unimaginative work force, then you are to be applauded for your success.

My flight from Accra to Atlanta that Sunday was scheduled to leave at 9:30 pm. Upon arrival at the airport at 8:15 pm, I was informed that I would not be allowed to get on the plane that night. Why? Because none of your agents was checking in any more passengers for that flight. In fact, they stopped checking in travelers at 7 pm, two and a half hours before the plane was scheduled to depart. As I approached one of your employees, he dismissively rolled up his radio, and nodded his head in the direction of your customer service line, telling me that I would have to speak with the agent there. I was greeted with a line of 9 other passengers, all eagerly hoping to make the flight for a plane that was idling on the tarmac outside.

As she casually ‘assisted’ customers who were obviously foreign, and scolded those who were clearly locals for missing check in, we were all told the same thing: Return to the airport the next morning to board the flight to Atlanta via New York and pay a $250 change fee per ticket. For me, this was totally unacceptable.

After 30 minutes waiting in line, Jane Sowah, (your agent’s name) gave me the same spiel. I approached her window with my 3 small children in tow, the eldest being only 5. She told me I would have to go to New York the next morning. I informed her I could not. Have you been through New York on a Delta flight, Mr. CEO? The combination of a disgruntled populace and your airline’s attitude toward service make going through New York akin to a journey through the bowels of Hell. Asking me to make that journey with 3 small children is like asking me to make that trek legless. Sensing that something was amiss and that we were not going to make the flight my daughter began to cry. I had already spent $800 to change our return date and cut our visit short by a month because she missed her father and brother terribly (they remained in Atlanta), and it had affected her eating. As she heaved and sobbed, I watched helplessly as enormous tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Please ma’am,” I begged. “I already have my boarding pass that was printed from the sales office. I’m willing to leave my luggage and just go with my carry on bags. Is there nothing we can do? My daughter is crying!”

“And why shouldn’t she cry?” Jane snarled. “Her mother did not get to the airport in time for check in.”

I was amazed.

“You have no compassion, do you?”

“No, I don’t,” she replied.

Now, I could understand her attitude if I were the only passenger in the airport who had shown up “late” that evening and was making an uncompromising fuss. But as I said earlier, there were 9 of us in the queue. As I told Jane, my experience and expectation at any other airport in the world is that one is able to check in within 2 hours of flight time at a Delta desk, to be served by a Delta rep, to get on a Delta plane! It is only in Accra that passengers are asked to show up 4-6 hours before the plane’s take off time and then punished with a change fee when there is so obviously plenty of time to go through security. I was informed that early check in was required to allow the plane to take off ON TIME and was forced to wait until Wednesday to get the next direct flight to Atlanta.

On the surface, this looks like a simple gripe, but there are things beneath the service that perhaps you have not considered:

  1. Ghanaians have a strong hatred for Delta Airlines – I was warned by no less that 15 people within my circle NOT to take Delta to Accra for any reason. Having had 2 previous horrible experiences myself, I unwisely returned and gave Delta another try, like a battered woman foolishly expecting kindness from her abuser. Following the pomp and pageantry at your gala in Atlanta, I succumbed the urging of Mr. Aye Addo the president of Ghanaian Association, who said via email that Delta would “soon become the clear and only choice for the discerning traveler to Ghana”. Instinctively, I knew I should have flown United to Accra, but I chose to believe in Delta, to my detriment. How does closing your check in counter 2 hours early translate to amazing customer service?
  2. In closing the check in counter 2 hours early and demanding early check in, you force/allow passengers to exit the airport minus their checked luggage. Do you not see the security breach in this? Who is to say that these passengers will not leave and return with contraband on their person? Who is to say that there are no dangerous substances in the bags that have been checked, and now being separated by their owners will not detonate on the plane? It is a well known fact that the scanners at KIA don’t work! How does this plan of action assist in the fight against terrorism? This lax attitude toward security are the reasons that the smuggling and sale of cocaine are so rampant in this country.
  3. In my case in particular, Jane Sowah (your employee) typed in that I attempted to check in at 8:45 pm. This is inaccurate. She took longer than necessary to assist each customer in an effort to cover her back and make it seem as though we were collectively late when in fact we were all there in ample time and could have boarded he flight if your crew was inclined to provide us with a modicum of service.

After being denied access to our flight, I went home to feed my exhausted children. As I stood at the sink, I heard the 9:30 Delta flight take off and fly over my home at 10:10 pm. This was merely adding insult to injury. In light of all that transpired, I must recommend the following:

  1. Empower your employees to do everything in their power and within the TSA guidelines to get your paying passengers on the flight. If you do not, you will loose your market share in Ghana very rapidly. Lufthansa continuously exceeds customer’s expectations, and remains the legacy airline of choice. I myself will never fly Delta to Accra again, as this experience has been the third and final slap.
  2. If your check in staff must go upstairs to serve in boarding the passengers, you would do well to leave at least one of them downstairs to assist customers until the plane takes off; that, or hire extra staff who serves that function alone.
  3. After being subjected to unnecessary rebuke, inconvenience and fiscal loss, I believe that a refund of the money I paid for the change fee is in order. I think you will agree that this fee is not only unfair, but cruel as well. Your staff clearly had every opportunity to get my family on that plane, particularly since I was willing to leave my checked baggage AND already had a boarding pass/assigned seat
  4. Is your purpose for coming to Africa to nickel and dime the customer base to make up for your budget short-fall? Recognize that your passengers are people, with emotions, and needs. We are not just dollar signs to make up and pad your bottom line, nor mere numbers on a flight manifest.

I eagerly await your response so that I may inform my public.

Respectfully,

Malaka Grant

cc: The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA)

cc: Delta sales management (Accra/Atlanta)

cc: The Ghana Association (Atlanta)

Attachments: Boarding passes for Oct 17th and receipts.


  • nana ama

    How awful! Your experience will definitely do great wonders for tourism in Ghana. On the other hand, you have probably uncovered a scam. The staff are religious in collecting the ‘change fee’ because its likely that they share it among themselves, subject to some creative accounting! Otherwise where does it go? Lufthansa, Virgin and KLM are the best airlines ever! BA has slipped but never this bad!

    • You see ooo. This is probably some ‘legal’ sakawa they are doing. Everyone has to get their cut from somewhere, don’t they? Let’s hope some good will come of it in the end, and that Delta will do the right thing instead of coming out with some legal PR BS spin like all these corporations provide when such matters arise. Whatever the response (or non-response), I shall post it here!

  • Delta sucks! They messed over my niece like this and I’ve had nothing but problems with them . Whatever happened to integrity and good customer service?

  • A-dub

    I hope you are sending this to them. If you don’t I certainly will!!! This is America dammit!

  • You think I wrote this for my health?? Of course I’m sending it to them! Bleeding wankers. I should have listened to everybody and never flown them in the first place.

  • When I hear anyone complain about Delta, I don ‘t blame them, I blame the people in Gh government (past and present) who have made Ghana Airways defunct.
    On a serious note, why don’t we send a petition maybe they would pay attention.

  • Odette

    …..plus they have no special meals/package ( toys and coloring materials) for children or cots for babies. My daughter had to make do with the regular adult meal package after paying for her seat. Delta is crap and I am never traveling by it again!

    • Odette, too true! As soon as the girls were settled on our in-coming flight, they looked around and asked me when they were going to bring out the toys. Can you imagine? The last time they flew, it was on KLM at ages 3 and 2, and 2 years later, they STILL remember that they should be receiving toys/coloring books and a meal suited to a child! These people have NO CLUE about how to go about giving customer care. They have already alienated 2 future customers. Do you think Nadjah will soon forget that Jane from Delta Airlines was happy to see her cry?

  • Marshall Grant

    I sent it to them via twitter @DeltaAssist and they sent me a DM saying they read your blog post and will be escalated to Corporate Customer Care. We’ll see the response.

  • MissCrys

    Idiots. If you were prepared to leave your luggage and had your boarding pass, you should have been on that flight.
    Also, I believe that if a flight is LATE, they MUST check in any passengers who arrive LATE, but before the flight has departed. Let me know what the morons say.

  • Shouldn’t we boycott? I’m all for it. Since their customer service is so sick worldwide, then they need to know it and we need to do something about it.
    Anyone with me on this??

  • I understand the need to boycott on a massive scale, but such calls, sadly, are usually ineffective. I personally will never fly Delta again, but I’m not going to add that decision to my list of causes. Incidentally, I came across this article today on Yahoo that ranks Delta as the WORST of all the large carriers: http://travel.yahoo.com/p-interests-36360593 Coincidence? I think not. It’s merely proof of what I and your niece experienced. These guys are jokers, and a “discerning” consumer would do well to advise themselves and never fly Delta unless they have a monopoly on a particular flight route…which they don’t.

  • Okay, maybe I jumped the gun with my thoughts or whatever, but Delta shall never get my money AGAIN!! (I probably had too much Dr. Pepper that morning when I wrote that.)

    • LOLOL!! Too much Dr Pepper. *cackle*! Yeah, you did seem pretty hyped!

  • Peter B Hard

    FYI, Continental, is about a million times worse than Delta and the customer service people at Continental intentionally shaft the flying public. There were many complaint pages up on the web site, with literally hundreds or thousands of travellers complaining about Continental burning them, it looked like enough to get a class action suit going. Somehow the Continental honchos got these web pages taken down, eradicated from the net, I presume they threatened whomever was hosting the web site. Then to add insult to injury Continental paid for some very bogus survey of the flying public , that put Continental passengers as the most satisfied of all passengers flying major airlines, and the survey listed a number of categories that had been previously up on the complaint blog, but instead of showing the actual level of frustration of the flying public at getting ripped off again and again and abused again and again, the Continental paid for “survey” had Continental with the least amount of complaints in the various categories, such as, ease of flight changes, change fees, etc. etc. And yahoo actually posted this survey as “news” on their web site, without bothering to find check who conducted the survey…Continental or their proxies. Very duplicitous….

  • Well I’ve never flown Continental, but I HAVE flown Delta on SEVERAL occasions. With exception of one time, I’ve been dicked by Delta and dicked hard. All the airlines suck, but Delta blows the worst, in my humble opinion. Hey, if Yahoo News! has them rated as the industry’s worst, then I can’t be far off.

    #ihatedelta