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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.