Delta Love

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.50.59 PMEver since I began traveling for Sports Illustrated in the mid-1990s, I’ve disliked Delta Airlines.

It’s nothing personal—the airline simply sucks. Stuff always goes wrong, from lost luggage to lengthy delays to standoffish employees. Perhaps it’s just my own luck of the draw; perhaps Delta and I are the tuna and Merlot of flying. Not meant to go together.

That being said, this has been a particularly awful day for our relationship.

It began seven hours ago, when I arrived at the airport in St. Louis and went to check in. I booked my flight quite a while ago, yet the computer informed me that I didn’t have a seat. Uh-oh. An ensuing message stated that the flight was probably full, and would I consider being bumped to the next plane to New York. It was made clear—in italicized letters at the bottom of the screen—that offering said consideration WOULD NOT impact my status for this flight.


I get to the gate, and wait … wait … wait for the agent to call my name. She does, and as I approach I hear he say into the phone, “I’m putting him on the flight to Atlanta.” Um, Atlanta? No, no, no. “There’s a flight to Atlanta at 6:30, and then you’ll connect to New York-Laguardia. You said you’d agree to being bumped.”

I shook my head. Not loudly, but with a hint of agitation. The plane was scheduled to land in Atlanta approximately 20 minutes before the flight to Laguardia would leave. This didn’t sound good. “I didn’t say I agreed to be bumped,” I said. “I said I’d consider it. But it clearly stated that consideration didn’t equal agreement. Plus, I booked this flight to New York long ago. How can you say I have a place on the flight—then take it away?”

“We oversell flights,” she said. “Usually it’s not a problem.”

The woman was being polite. She also was, by Delta standards, a grunt. She had no real power or authority, and screaming would make no difference. That being said, this was absolute bullshit. “So you’re bumping me because I was nice enough to say I’d consider another flight?”

She sorta nodded.

“But I’m giving you a $400 voucher,” she said

I have no desire to be one of those crazy people who bark at gate attendants. But I wanted to bark. I DON’T WANT A $400 VOUCHER FOR YOUR DOGSHIT AIRLINE! I WANT TO GO HOME! MY WIFE FUCKING NEEDS ME TOMORROW MORNING TO TAKE THE KIDS TO SCHOOL. THIS IS ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.

I took the voucher, and walked to the Atlanta gate.

And here I am. Of course, we arrived late. Of course, the flight to Laguardia is gone. I was told by other passengers to make sure and snag the $50 food voucher. “We don’t do that any longer,” a grumpy Delta employee told me.

Now here I am, in a Sheraton in Georgia. Thanks to Delta’s kindness, I’ll be buying dinner tonight I wouldn’t have bought, I’ll be paying an extra 12 hours of airport parking ($30) and I’ll be sleeping for about four hours before waking up for a 6 am flight. This had nothing to do with weather. It was an airline selling more tickets than seats, then being v-e-r-y misleading about the words CONSIDER BEING BUMPED, then putting me on a flight to connect with another flight that—the gate agent certainly realized—had about a 4 percent chance of actually happening.

I value my time, I value my money.

To say I hate Delta is to delve into great understatement.

I loathe it.

2 thoughts on “Delta Love”

  1. Jeff you do realize that EVERY airline “oversells” every single flight. it is not just delta. as someone who works for an airline, I will say that i do understand your frustration. i see it just about every day. Hope you get home to your wife and kids, as soon as possible.

  2. I’ve heard a number of Delta complaints over the years, most of which are of similar nature to yours. As Jon notes, airlines oversell flights because people will cancel or not show up. I have flown Delta for years and never had a single problem with them, but that is because I check in and get my seat assignment online. Usually I do it the night before so I have nothing to worry about. Not sure when you arrived at the airport, but if you didn’t get there seriously early and did not check in ahead of time, then you are at risk of getting bumped.

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