Update to "A hate/love relationship - Delta Airlines customer service"

Update to "A hate/love relationship - Delta Airlines customer service"

Summary: I've got an update to the post A hate/love relationship - Delta Airlines customer service and thought you'd like to see it. A representative of Delta's customer service department responded to my Email.


I've got an update to the post A hate/love relationship - Delta Airlines customer service and thought you'd like to see it. A representative of Delta's customer service department responded to my Email. It appears that the company has decided to refund the $150/ticket change fee that it charged me when I had to change my flight plans due to a medical emergency. I'm very thankful.

Here's a snippet of that response:

Dear Mr. Kusnetzky,

RE: Case Number xxxxxx

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the change fee you were charged.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I want to extend our best wishes for your wife's good health.

I understand this must have been a most stressful time for you and appreciate the opportunity to review this matter with you.  Under the circumstances, we will certainly refund the change fee for you and your wife's ticket.  Hence, I will be asking our colleagues in Passenger Refunds to issue the appropriate refund for ticket number xxxxxxxxxx and yyyyyyyyyy.  The refund will be processed as follows.  Credit card refunds are electronically processed to the original form of payment approximately 7 business days after handling.  It may take up to two billing cycles for the credit to appear on your statement.

Please allow the time frame designated above for the refund to process. A refund status can be checked by calling 800-847-0578.  You may also write to Passenger Refunds at the following address.  We thank you for your patience while we process this request.

Delta Air Lines Passenger Refunds PO Box 20537 Atlanta, GA 30320-2537

Mr. Kusnetzky, I hope I have been able to resolve your concerns.  Your support as a Platinum Medallion member is important to Delta, our Connection Carriers, and SkyTeam partners.  We look forward to your continued patronage.

While I'm pleased with the outcome, I must admit that I'm not pleased with the process. One could most certainly ask why does Delta (and other major U.S. airlines) charge such ridiculous change fees and fees on everything but the air in the cabin. A $150/ticket change fee for a sub $300 ticket is clearly an abuse.

Business travelers I've chatted with are increasingly angry with the treatment they receive at the hands of the air carriers. Most haven't found a way find address the issue. They simply need to get from here to there to conduct business.

I know that I've stopped using the local airport and drive some distance to a larger hub. Why? I need to get certain places at certain times and no routing from my local airport works. Driving 1 1/2 hours rather than 20 minutes also allows me to trade my time and travel costs for a lower airfare.

I also have driven 5 hours to get to an appointment in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami rather than fly. In the end, it takes about the same amount of wall clock time, I don't have to deal with the indignities of TSA and I don't have to rent a car at the other end. Driving to Boston or New York, however, is out of the question - for now.

When are the airlines going to wake up to the fact that money-grubbing today is going to lead to customer losses tomorrow?

Topics: Travel Tech, Software


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • RE: Update to

    Glad to hear they refunded the money. You wouldn't see that with US Airways that is for sure. Sometimes it takes a little griping like you did, but in the end its a reasonable solution. Oh and I do agree about your statement of the airlines and money-grubbing.
    Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Update to

    It is nice to hear that a customer is getting compensated for bad service.

    As for "money grubbing" I have always been curious if it is true or not. What are the costs to run an airline? Do ticket prices cover the costs and the profit margin? Are fat bonuses and shareholder dividend payouts subtracted from gross profits to reflect unreal net profits? Are airlines using the same accounting practices that movie studios use where everyone makes money but the product is always non-profitable?
  • RE: Update to

    Years ago United changed my flight due to some issue on their end. The new flight time was inconvenient. So, I told the rep I was charging THEM a $75 change fee (the going rate at that time on passenger changes). Amazingly, she agreed and issued me a credit voucher for a future flight. I doubt this will work nowadays, but worth a try :-)
  • RE: Update to

    The only reason they refunded your money was because you wrote an article that has the potential to reach consumers. If you were Joe Blow off the street, you are SOL. So don't think they customer service realized their mistake. This is all just a PR ploy to avoid negative attention.
  • What about TRAINS?

    Folks need to consider using trains for their short to moderate length travel. No TSA, much better on-time service than in previous years, improving schedules, and in some places real improvements in travel. The time for Saint Louis to Chicago travel will soon be reduced by ninety minutes, making it a "dead heat" with airlines and additional ground transport for downtown-to-downtown times between the two cities. You can get up and go to the bathroom anytime you want, and refreshment service is always available.
  • RE: Update to

    As long as the airlines can continue to fill seats, they have no incentive to change. And if they don't fill seats, they cancel the flight or eventually drop the route. This is exactly what we asked for and got when we deregulated the airlines.

    In my opinion, we have two choices: re-regulate the airlines as a common carrier or essential resource, or provide government funding for the development of alternatives such as high-speed rail.
  • Agree with JakeRader

    WE got what we asked for and now don't like it. Airlines will always find someone at at computer ready to buy the $99.00 ticket to Lauderdale! They also have far to many people "gaming" the system to do away with the Change Fees. The old days are gone. We have to accept the new reality we created.
    I am glad to see Delta show compassion for and to your wife and hope she does well.
  • Thanks for Sharing... I Have a Much Bigger Issue

    Thanks for sharing your frustrations, and the poor judgement and service offered by Delta (and frankly most airlines), today. It has become a sad reality that the airlines are no longer in the business of servicing their customers - and instead focus all policies, decisions, (alleged) service internally, on themselves - like your own experience with the change fees.

    I am in the midsts of my own nightmare with Delta Airlines... briefly:

    I booked an int'l, business class ticket on Delta.com
    ... roundtrip to Sydney, Australia.

    I deliberately checked both the "Business Class" option in the drop-down menu, and checked the REFUNDABLE ticket box before proceeding with the rest of the reservation

    I chose my flight options (timing, stops, layovers, fares) based on the options that I was given from my selection criteria. I ASSUMED that all flights offered in this selection met ALL of my prior criteria. They certainly met the Business Class criteria based on the air fare and based on seating options.

    As I am NOT familiar with the plethora of "Class Codes" for Delta, I assumed that my ticket was refundable (hoping not to have to even worry about that).

    Well, as fate has it... my trip was cancelled.

    When I called Delta to inform them of this cancellation (to free up my seat, and to request a refund)... I was thanked by the Delta Representative (DR) and informed that my ticket was NOT refundable... and that I was on the hook for a $9,000 credit card charge.

    After many rounds of discussion, debate, disappointment, etc., the DR offered to call the refund department to see what she could do. After waiting on hold for about 20 minutes, she returned to the line - joyously announcing that half my ticket was, in fact, refundable. She was a little surprised at my disappointment with this news... "only HALF?".

    Well... I requested a refund via Delta's Refund Dept... now expecting to receive the same news (only half of my ticket would be refunded). After a full month of waiting, I did get a letter from Delta.

    To my astonishment, they simply said that they were sorry that they could not honor my request for a refund... BUT that the $9,000 could be used as travel credits against future travel... after change fees and fare differentials are applied... AND for only 1 year after the date on which I booked my cancelled trip.

    So NOW... they say NOTHING is refundable?

    The credit card company has been a good partner (up until now) holding the disputed $9,000. But now they have released this charge to my credit card.

    Consequently, as a small business owner, I now need to find a way to cover this astronomical fee... while I continue to try to appeal Delta's decision.

    It appears that the same level of "policy" was used to review both of our situations... and the same level of inconsideration for their own actions, systems, service, and lack of concern for their own long-term equity with travelers and customers was "invested" in the answers they provided.

    Good luck with you new choices of longer drives, alternate airports or alternate airlines. I have already begun to use the same practices... driving to almost any location less than 5 hours away (and not flying at all).

    Thanks for also sharing the positive resolution... congrats. Maybe I can hope for the same "change of heart" from Delta. But not holding my breath.

  • RE: Update to

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  • RE: Update to

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  • delta jfk is crap

    Delta is hands down the worst. I fly all the time, I am not world jetsetter but I have been to over 25 countries, and flew on countless domestic flights with all the major and regional airlines like Spirit and Jetblue. But Delta is by far the worst. And here's to the worst of the customer service in my experience and a salute to the worst agent at Delta Customer Service.
    Donald Lamonaca
    Performance Leader
    Department 125
    JFK International

    On my flight day, I checked in online through their website; website clearly said I checked in but said I need to get my assigned seat at the airport. When I got to the airport, agents at the ticket counter refused to ackowledge that I checked in. It was a full flight; they had people on standby. I arrived 50 minutes before my flight without luggage to check. This is close to the 45 minutes cutoff time for JFK international traveler, but still within the time allowed. First delta rep standing by the kiosk, Sabel P., tried to print the ticket for me, but couldn't so she went to the counter to ask. They know that the time is close but the other rep also couldn't print the ticket. At this point, they know the protocol, which is that the gate may have taken over so they could call the gate to try to get me on the flight, but even knowing this, they didn't. Sabel P. told me they couldn't print and to get in line and wait for an agent. This was the first "unhelpfulness" of delta. If you have a customer who arrived 50 minutes before takeoff; you know he has to get on the flight. Why aren't the agents helpful to try to get them on the flight? Sabel P. does the least she could do which was to talk to other agents at the desk. If she was helpful, she would have called the gate. She does the easitest thing, and the least helpful thing to a customer in a bind trying to get flight. She told me to get to the back of the line and wait for an agent. Sabel P. Thank you very little for being the 2nd worst delta agent.

    By the time I get to an agent, they told me again they couldn't print my ticket and then later said I hadn't checked in online, but I definitely did check in online as I do with all my travels. I check in online before I go to the airport each and every time. At this time, they finally call the gate. The gate said it was too late. When I arrived at the airport 50 minutes before my flight, there was barely enough time, but they did very little to help a customer slightly late but one that still was probable of getting on the flight, if they had helped. But Delta agents did nothing other than to ask me to get to the back of the line. So now I had missed my flight.

    So this got escalated to Donald Lamonaca, the customer supervisor at JFK. He offered no help. He said from their records, he could see that I tried to check in online twice earlier in the day. What does "tried to" even mean anyways? When a customer goes to delta.com on the day of the flight, 5 hours before departure and go to the checkin page. What purpose does the customer have other than to check in? I did exactly that. I did check in online, put in my reservation #, passport number and got to the final page where the website told me I was checked in. Delta.com clearly said I checked in but said I need to get my assigned seat at the airport. Only thing he could do was to change my itinerary for $2000 more. He could have offered to talk to ticketing or sales, considering he knows he checked in online. He didn't. He could have tried to help me on the next flight or the next day, but he didn't. He said either paid $2000 or talk to my travel agent. I asked to borrow their phone and then he said their phones don't dial out. That's a lie and total BS. The agent before just offered to let me use their phone. How unhelpful can Donald be? I couldn't even use their phone to talk to anyone at delta or my travel agent with a 800 number? I ended up going to a pay phone downstairs and after 1 hour, got a delta ticketing supervisor online. He offered that I pay $300 to rebook my flight for the next day but the reception was so bad that I couldn't complete the phone call.

    So I went back upstairs and talked to the delta agents again. Miraculously, another Delta agent said "Yes of course you can use our phone to talk to our sales agents calling the 800 number" So Donald Lamonaca flat out lied to me to say that the phones don't dial out. He could have helped, but he did everything he can to NOT HELP. His offer was pay $2000 to buy a new ticket or go away. I couldn't even borrow a phone from Delta. I was traveling and didn't have my cell phone. The least Donald could have done was to lend a phone. He didn't.

    Donald is the "Performance Leader" at JFK handling customer service for Delta. Imagine with that that of leadership (or lack thereof), what kind of customer service we can expect.
    Donald Lamonaca.
    Department 125
    T. 718-704 2615

    I am thoroughly disappointed at my experience today with Delta.

    An unhappy delta customer