Delta’s Response to the Atlanta Airport Power Outage

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Delta's Response to the Atlanta Airport Power Outage

Delta’s Response to the Atlanta Airport Power Outage

I am sure most of you are aware of Atlanta airport losing power for around 24 hours in mid December.  My parents happened to be caught up in that mess.  They were visiting me in Michigan at the time and they were stranded here for an extra day because of the power outage.  I had booked them flights on Delta using Skymiles and I wanted to share with you Delta’s response to the situation.

Background Information

I had flown my parents from Atlanta to Detroit on Delta using 15,000 Skymiles a piece roundtrip.  They flew in for the weekend to celebrate Christmas with my family.  They were set to fly back to Atlanta in the afternoon of December 17th.  That is about when the power outage had hit.

We heard about it on the way to the airport and we were unaware at the time how widespread it was.  They started getting updates from a friend in Atlanta that managed a restaurant at the Atlanta airport…it wasn’t looking good at this point.  My parents decided to simply rebook their flight to the the first flight out in the morning rather than waiting hours to see if their flight got canceled or not.

They used their Marriott credit card free night certificate for Sunday night so they could get to the airport early without bothering anyone.

Flight Issues

They were scheduled to depart at 6:30AM.  That flight got bumped back a few hours during the night to around 9:30AM.  The flight was then delayed because the plane was not properly stocked so they had to bring a different/larger plane in.  This one was also not properly stocked but they boarded everyone anyway.

And then they waited and waited and waited.  They ended up being stuck on the plane for over 2 hours waiting on confirmation from Atlanta that they could land.  During this time there was no service offered and the flight attendants were snippy and rude.  The communication was not great.  After 2 hours they were all finally offered a small cup of water and some raisins.

They then offered the option to deplane and reschedule after a few hours but said that if you deplaned you would not be allowed back on.

They finally got to Atlanta around 3 or 4pm when they were supposed to arrive around 8:30am originally.

Delta's Response to the Atlanta Airport Power Outage

Complaint Filed

After hearing of all of the issues I decided to file a complaint with Delta on the 18th of December.  The power outage was not Delta’s fault in any way and I expressed my understanding of this in the complaint.

Their inability to adjust to the issue, lack of communication, and lack of professionalism on the front lines is what upset me.  They had all night to get this figured out.  There is no reason to have un-stocked planes.  There is no reason to board the plane before you even have confirmation you can land in Atlanta.  People would rather be in the terminal vs sitting on a plane for 2 plus hours.  And there is no reason to offer nothing to the passengers during that time frame.  They weren’t waiting to take off on the tarmac they were sitting at the gate.  And why not stock the plane properly while you are sitting there anyway?

I detailed this in a short paragraph on their website.  Since it wasn’t Deltas fault I didn’t expect much of a response and I expected it to take a while.  I was wrong on both fronts.

Delta’s Response

I received a call from Delta, yes an actual call, the following week about my complaint.  This took me by surprise.  She said that she had read my complaint and asked what kind of expenses had been incurred.

This is where I completely failed since I was shocked to be talking to someone and not responding over email.  Plus the fact that it had been second hand I was not aware of all of the details or at least they weren’t in the forefront of my mind.

I explained they had to stay in a hotel.  When she asked how much was the cost I said around $100, which is the normal rate for the off site hotels but it really cost them the $85 annual fee.  They had dinner in the Marriott lounge for free so I didn’t really go into food cost detail.  I didn’t consider breakfast, money spent at the airport, lost wages, and extra day of parking etc.  Partly because I was shocked and partly because I was thinking receipts would need to be produced at this point.

I was also expecting a mileage reimbursement compensation and I was ready to haggle a little bit on that.  But she quickly informed me they would send me a check for $100 and I should get it within the next 6-8 weeks.  The check came in the mail a week later.  Pretty impressive!

Conclusion

While I definitely didn’t get a level of compensation to match the cost that was incurred by my parents, that was my fault and not Delta’s.  I am pretty sure if I had asked for more I would have gotten it.  I was completely unprepared to receive that phone call because I have never been called in response to an airline complaint, email is usually the form of communication. We do not have any status with Delta either, myself or my parents.

Delta’s initial response to the power outage was lackluster.  They seemed unprepared for the turmoil even though they had all night to game plan.  Situations like this always surprises me since these type of things happen all the time with weather etc.  You would think they would have a plan of attack already in place for these types of situations.

I will say their response to the complaint was top notch.  I come away completely impressed with the speed in which they responded and their willingness to compensate passengers even when it wasn’t their fault.  Delta ia suing Georgia Power so I assume Georgia Power is footing the bill, which could play into their gracious response.  Regardless, I think Delta came out of this encounter looking good.

 

What do you think – did Delta do enough?  Should they have offered compensation to passengers directly on the plane without the need to file a complaint? Let me know in the comments.  Let me know your story if you were directly affected by this situation as well.

 


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15 COMMENTS

  1. Mark,
    With what credit card did you pay the taxes and fees on your parents’ award tickets? Depending on the card, your parents may be due some additional trip interruption or delay compensation from the credit card company.
    Although, they may rationalize that this force majeure incident may excuse them…the delays due to the change in aircraft required and then being held at the gate while sitting on a fully boarded aircraft may be ammunition for your argument.
    Just a thought…

    • I used the Delta Platinum card when working on the sign up bonus to get my $100 statement credit 🙁

      But good point to go that route as well if you use a card with good trip protection. It would have been interesting to see how they would have categorized it.

  2. Agree, calling you is like a funny mind control trick. It puts you in their debt immediately and off balance. So yea next time I’ll be more prepared for the call.

  3. A couple of years ago, two of us flew with LH on a United award ticket from FRA-PHL. Bad weather at PHL meant we were diverted to BWI. Again, our main issue was the lack of communication and poor logistics on the ground at BWI – with no LH ground crew, we had to rely on (less than completely engaged) UA staff. We ended up arriving at PHL by coach about 5 hours late.

    Anyway, after a quick web complaint to LH, they called within a week to apologize and offered to reimburse actual expenses (with receipts) or give us $100 on the spot. Given that our only expenses were a bagel and coffee and the BWI Dunkin, we gladly accepted the $100 check!

    Glad to hear Delta was similarly helpful in your parents’ case.

  4. “Situations like this always surprises me since these type of things happen all the time with weather etc. You would think they would have a plan of attack already in place for these types of situations.”
    While there are always contingencies for weather, a total power failure at their global hub(ATL) doesn’t exactly “happen all the time”. Though perhaps Delta SHOULD plan for that going forward.
    Quite frankly, there seems to be a lot blame to go around and, in your defense, Delta simply cannot allow themselves to be slave to Ga Power(or anyone), at least not in Atlanta.

    • Geoff I think you took my example too literal. I meant they have to deal with similar situations on a regular basis across the globe. They should have a crisis team that has a plan of attack. I am sure they do but they don’t seem to do the best job imo. There is no reason the planes shouldn’t have been stocked. There is no need to board people before you even get the ok from Atlanta. I am sure they weren’t told it would only be a few minutes. This is similar to AA delaying flights 15 min at a time when they know they won’t show up for hours. The ATL airport was shut down for a day or two just a few weeks before because it snowed. Similar parameters etc.

      When they had issues last Jan, I think computer issues, I was delayed for hours because we had no FA and the Pilots even said no one in Atlanta will pick up the phone so there isn’t much they can do. This was 2-3 days after the issue occurred. That is poor management imo.

      They did a great job of acting after the fact with the call and compensation etc. but they didn’t do much to prevent the issues once the turmoil started. Just my opinion on it.

  5. Well, Delta certainly didn’t learn from that experience. On Dec. 21 we were to fly Business from Buenos Aires to Atlanta. Another not their fault pilot got sick and the flight was delayed to the next morning. The problem was that staff in Buenos Aires had absolutely no idea to handle the 12 hour delay. They ran us all over the airport, the entire A330 passengers or at least those that could keep up. Back and forth and again, etc. trying to get us back into Argentina, to hotels, etc. No food, water or bathroom facilities for about 4 hours and if we didn’t keep up, noone to direct us where to go. Finally got to the hotel around midnight with a 4 AM departure back to the airport along with a promise of room service food but, nothing open and nobody answer the phone. Got to the airport and took 2 1/2 hours to get checked in, Immigration adn security was a breeze. And, no signs or help with checking in.

    The aircraft had been on the ground for almost 24 hours having been serviced the day before for the 9:15 PM departure, We finally departed around 9:30 AM after a scheduled 8 AM departure due to th extremely slow checkiin. $200 Delta Gift Card pp, $200 future flight certificate PP or a choice of gift cards to merchants. Tried to get cash but, she said Delta NEVER gives cash. A bald face lie per your story.. Talked more and finally got what she said was the maximum or $300 PP. Recommended the merchant gift card thinking a Visa would be one of the choices. Got the email for the card choice almost immediately and the choices were pitiful. Going to use the cards once I get hard copies hopefully in a few weeks but, proves that Delta has no contingency plans in place domestic or foreign and glad we took the cards as Delta miles or gift cards were unacceptable as Delta is now on our no fly list. Still almost 2 weeks later, the 2 hours sleep over 40 hours is still affecting us. NO DELTA ever again!!!!!

    • Sorry to hear about this. Sounds terrible. It sounds like most airlines (at least the US ones) struggle with any type of hiccups. It seems like it is every location for themselves instead working the problem as a company. Very reactive management instead of proactive too.

  6. I was also put on the spot by a Wyndham supervisor a fee months ago over the phone. I had been dealing with an ongoing issue with WRs being properly applied to my account, & I was ultimately asked what the amount of points was I owed. I gave a number that on later reflection I realized was under by quite a bit. I emailed c/s explaining my mistake, & they made me whole. Might be worth trying with Delta? Worst they can do is nothing.

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