The Delta Soup is Spoiled

The Delta Soup is Spoiled

Trent at The Simple Dollar asked, Does one bad experience spoil the soup? He is referring to our adverse reaction to certain brands or establishments as a result of one unpleasant experience that we pretty much boycott the product altogether.

That reminded me of all the whining I’ve been doing lately about the inconvenience of traveling nowadays. I whined about the higher prices, the luggage, the extra fees, I whined about the delays. But you know what, I think most of us expect that now. We don’t really expect first class treatment in coach anymore. Actually, I think even first class travelers will agree that the overall service of commercial flights have been declining every year. Even with all the things I complained about, they weren’t enough to make me stop flying altogether. It’s just too much of a necessity. I will still be flying commercial planes. I can’t afford to fly any other way.

However, I can avoid certain airlines. DELTA specifically. I don’t have to fly with them, they don’t offer anything more than what I can get from other airlines anyway. I am not going to fly with them anymore not because of high prices, luggage fees or delays. I’m not flying with them anymore because of one bad experience with one bad employee at one remote airport counter. It’s probably an isolated event, and maybe, I’m being a bit unfair but an experience with them still left a bad taste in my mouth and I can’t, in good conscience, keep giving them what little money I have to spend.

Here’s why…

This is the letter I sent in to the Delta Customer Service department, detailing our experience with their representative. I didn’t really expect any resolution to the event, I realize it is a matter of perception and is highly subjective and said that in my letter. They didn’t disappoint, they wrote back to say pretty much that they’ve investigated the matter and found nothing wrong, they apologized that we felt offended, but they found no evidence of racial profiling. Obviously, they did not read my letter thoroughly. My complaint was not about racial profiling, it was about the discourteous service we received from one of their agents.

Hello there, first off I’d like to say that even with the current security and baggage restrictions; we were overall pleased with the travel and service our children, who flew as unaccompanied minors, received from Delta Airlines. They reported that they were well taken care of during the flight and between flights even though they experienced some delay and had to wait a couple of extra hours for their connecting flight. They said that everyone was nice to them and made sure that they weren’t exposed to any discomfort or unpleasantness. A flight attendant even sat with them for part of the flight and my eldest daughter enjoyed interacting with her. So thank you for taking care of our girls and providing them with a good experience on their first unaccompanied flight.

The problem I would like to bring to your attention is the discourteous service we received from one of your customer service representatives at the RDU airport counter. Her name is Lisa C. according to her badge, and this incident happened on when we went to pick up our daughters at the airport on August 11, 2008 at 4:00 p.m. My husband and I went to the Delta counter to request a security pass to go and pick up our daughters at the gate. Lisa, after taking both mine and my husband’s IDs and looking at them, curtly returned my husband’s ID and said, “I can only allow you (speaking to me and not looking at my husband) to go up since only your name is on the responsible party list”. I explained to her that when we dropped off our daughters on their departure flight, we (my husband and I) were both given security passes to take them to the gate. Lisa then replied that it is the airport’s/TSA’s security regulation that only the person listed as the responsible person be allowed to go up. I tried reasoning with her that he was previously allowed to go up so why can he not go now when only three weeks prior we were both allowed to go up to the gate? She said,”This airport only allows one person to go up”.

I had no ready response for her so I simply looked at my husband helplessly. To which, he told me (not Lisa), “See what I mean? I get this all the time.” This is in reference to previous conversations that my husband and I have had regarding racial profiling. The term ‘racial profiling’ was never uttered during this conversation, however. It was simply implied in reference to a conversation that we, as a couple have had previously and was not addressed to Lisa C. She must be quite astute; however, because as soon as she heard my husband say that to me, she rudely shoved my ID back at me and said, “You can get someone else to help you” then turned her back. My husband then told her, “I was talking to my wife and not to you”. To this, she turned her back and walked away.

My husband and I were by this time quite upset and went to the next person on the counter, a Mr. Quentin M. We expressed our annoyance to him and told him how rude Lisa was to us. He did re-iterate that it is regulation to have only one person be issued a security pass to meet arriving unaccompanied minors. We told him that we were ready to accept that reason, but our complaint was how Lisa spoke to us and how rude she was. Quentin apologized on Lisa&’s behalf and then proceeded to issue two security passed for me and my husband to go and meet our daughters. We thanked him for making us feel a little better about the incident with Lisa, which could have been avoided if she had been just a little more cordial.

We do understand that the airline, TSA and the airport have regulations. We are also aware that exceptions can be made. For one, RDU is not a very big airport as you are aware, and two, we were at the airport during a slow time, 4 o’clock on a Monday afternoon. There were less people at the airport than during a rush. My main complaint is the rudeness shown to us by Delta employee Lisa C. For someone who was only ‘following the rules’ she sure was awfully defensive. She
sure marred what would have been an otherwise uneventful and pleasant experience with your airline. I must add that even with the flight delays and lost luggage, Lisa’s rudeness trumps all those inconveniences.

I thank you for your time reading my letter. I had debated whether to send this letter or not (I am not in the usual habit of writing complaints); but even after a week, the incident is nagging at me and I know it must be worst for my husband who is of African-American descent and is often mistaken for Middle Eastern ancestry, ergo the interchange between us.

I know there is no resolution to this incident, it is in the past. I just wanted to let you know and more or less vent. I must say though, that with employees like Lisa C. I would be discouraged to fly with your airline again. It is sad how one bad experience can overshadow all the other good experiences.

Thank you,

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