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Delta Schedule Change
August 24, 2014 7:43 PM   Subscribe

So I've read a few posts about scheduling changes here and on other sites and I'd like to post my situation to see what y'all would think is reasonable to expect from Delta.

We bought tickets back in February for this trip:

2 September:
PDX -> AMS (We chose this specifically for the aircraft with the row of only two seats on the bulkhead and Economy Comfort for the extra legroom).

3 October:
Naples->AMS Depart 09:35 Arrive 12:40
AMS->SEA Depart 14:40 Arrive 16:07 (two seats on the bulkhead & Economy Comfort)
SEA->PDX Depart 18:30 Arrive 19:17

Delta has already changed our flights once. A couple of months ago they had to change the SEA->PDX leg so we'd have enough time to get through customs. Okay, fine. We spent a long time on the phone, though, since they didn't bother to rebook all my husband's flights on the first go round.

I got a voicemail today saying they'd changed the 3 October flights ENTIRELY. Now it's

3 October:
Naples to Rome Depart 07:25 Arrive 08:20
Rome to JFK Depart 12:45 Arrive 16:40
JFK to PDX Depart 18:34 Arrive 21:44

So we are now leaving two hours earlier and arrive three hours later. And they didn't even book seats together let alone Economy Comfort, although I think the supervisor said at one point she could put us on some EC seats for the Naples to Rome leg (that were showing as unavailable on their website). And the worst part of the whole deal is that they changed everything because the two-hour Naples to AMS flight was changed. Every other leg is the same but now sold out of course. They just gave our seats away without even trying to talk with us first.

I just don't understand why they bumped us all all the other flights. What other industry gets away with this? It's like going to a restaurant, ordering salad, steak and chocolate mousse and the server coming back and saying "we're out of salad so here's soup, lasagna and a fruit salad. And you have to sit at separate seats at the bar."

I spent a good hour on the phone this morning to try to get them to make this right. I wasn't rude. I didn't curse. I said "I recognize that this is not your fault." I did raise my voice towards the end when they just were completely unwilling to find anything better.

I just feel like what they changed our flights to aren't comparable to what we picked and paid for six months ago. They couldn't offer any explanation about why we were bumped off the existing flights and refused to even offer a discount on a better class. Pretty poor customer service. I told them we'd have to call back after we looked at our itinerary.

What's reasonable to tell them we want? We talked about changing our schedule some (e.g., Iceland Air, giving up a couple of days in Italy, and train travel from Naples to AMS) but everything is so expensive at this late date. They did offer to refund our money for the 3 October flights and we could put that towards a new plan but it will still be significant extra cost. I really don't want to give them my business but I'm not sure I'm $2000 worth of mad at them.

Thanks all!

Thanks for any help from the experienced travelers here.
posted by Beti to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This has happened to me on Delta as well. In our case, they rebooked our seats so that my husband and I (with a lap baby) were on opposite sides of the plane. I just kept calling, and calling, and calling until they fixed it. I emphasized the fact that I paid extra for three premium seats specifically so that we could all sit together and not disturb fellow passengers. If the first person said they couldn't help me, I didn't waste much time convincing them to change their minds; I just hung up and called again until I found someone willing to escalate.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:53 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


What's reasonable to tell them we want?

What do you want? It sounds like you'd like to leave Naples on the morning of 3 October, and arrive in PDX that evening, you'd like to sit together, and you'd like some kind of seat upgrade for the long leg.

You've already paid for all of that, so none of that, when put that way is unreasonable.

What may be problematic is insisting on not leaving Naples before 9am, and/or arriving in PDX before 8pm. If they don't have the seats on the planes to make that schedule work, then they just can't do it...and insisting on the impossible probably won't help your case.

If I were trying to troubleshoot this situation for myself, I'd look at that Naples to X leg very carefully. Naples isn't a Delta hub, and it's probably using a partner airline to get you from there to Rome, Amsterdam or EU hub. You can try asking the Delta reps if they can get you home via Prague or Paris. Or you could try asking for a partial refund and planning to get to Rome via train or other ground transport.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:33 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Are you asking to speak to a supervisor? Not just the first person's supervisor, but the front line supervisor's supervisor. I've had good CS results doing that.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 8:37 PM on August 24


I would say that you're much more likely to succeed if you have a concrete proposal based on possibilities. I've planned pretty complicated itineraries involving rental car to train to airplane in Europe and with the wall of text and options, I'm having a hard time keeping everything straight. So try to come to the person on the phone with specific flights so that the easiest thing for them is give you what you want. Even if they're not currently showing seats in Economy Comfort, like the supervisor said, you can probably get them if you calmly, even kindly ask for them.

You might also consider going for a different West Coast hub. For instance, Delta or partners fly nonstop from LAX to Rome (Alitalia), London (Delta and Virgin), Amsterdam (KLM), and Paris (Air France). So see if those routes are available at all. While in theory Delta is close partners with KLM, you probably will get the most flexibility if you are asking for accommodation on the Delta flight out of London, as they have the most control and access over that flight. Find the carrier operating the flight and check their seat availability on carrier's site.

The other likely option is to train to Rome and try for the Alitalia flights. There are two trains an hour for €19pp, so that would possibly give you some schedule flexiblity, though it is 32km from the downtown station to the airport.

They are not going to be interested in the whole two seats on the bulkhead thing. Nor the relatively slight scheduling changes. I know it's infuriating that they charge for a seat assignment there and then it doesn't mean anything. The agents in the call center are human beings with a limited capacity and adding to a laundry list is likely to cause them to tune you out. You've got to stick to your main complaint which is getting the transatlantic leg in the Economy Comfort you booked. I got jerked around by a last minute equipment change and lost a truly choice seat assignment that we had gone to the airport in advance to beg for, and the amount of sympathy, let alone interest in fixing the situation was zero. And this was on my honeymoon!

Basically, I would aim to be made whole as best you can, which will probably happen by identifying the leg you really want the leg room for and asking for that. I agree that it's unbelievably frustrating. We booked (with miles, but still) SJC-LAX-CDG and our flights were moved by more than a day, we had to leave our paid-for apartment the night before and book a room at a CDG airport hotel at our own expense. If we had changed the flights ourselves, it would have been $250 a person in change fees, but they can do it and not only pay nothing, but leave you in a worse position, even if they refund the original fare. The thing is, you still need the agent to do what you want, and that means choosing the calmest available person, not ever raising your voice, and politely but firmly requesting that they help fix the situation. Good luck.
posted by wnissen at 9:22 PM on August 24


Delta doesn't fly to Naples, so it looks like this schedule changed was forced by their codeshare partner, Transavia.com, which is a subsidiary of Air France-KLM. It sounds to me like Delta is accommodating you as well as it can to work around a flight that someone else canceled.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:56 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Seconding that you consider taking a train to Rome. Ask if that would make it easier and indicate that you are willing to do that, if necessary, to make the rest of the flights easier to arrange.
posted by soelo at 7:37 AM on August 25


Your best bet it to call with an alternate route identified and request it specifically. Phone agents are too frazzled to suss out your decision variables and help you in the way a travel agent would. Going in with your plan is the way to win! If you're set on departing from Naples and landing in PDX, then I would request this route:

7:25a 8:20a 55m
Naples (NAP) to Rome (FCO)
Alitalia 1268

10:15a 2:20p 13h 5m
Rome (FCO) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Alitalia 620

4:55p 7:12p 2h 17m
Los Angeles (LAX) to Portland (PDX)
Alaska Airlines 561

Advantages:
That route is about 3 hours shorter than the one they selected.
It puts you on a full sized plane for the route to PDX instead of a little Delta regional jet.

Now here are my caveats:
It puts you on Delta on the overwater leg. KLM is much, much nicer.
You have 2 hours in LA to clear customs and hop back on a flight.
posted by 26.2 at 11:16 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


Here's what I'd do. Figure out what the deal is with the Naples flight and have a suggestion for a flight that would work better for you.

Call Delta ask for a supervisor and explain that you want THIS itinerary and you want your EC seats and you don't want to pay extra.

Once everything is set, and after you go on your trip, write a letter, explain how unhappy you were with the multiple changes on your itinerary, and that it required multiple phone calls to resolve. Put in a kind word for the person who rescheduled you correctly.

ASK for a partial refund, or travel vouchers or a free upgrade on your next flight for all the mishegoss you had to endure in dealing with this. Say, "I believe that the extra hassle I had to deal with regarding these changes accounts for 15% of the total flight costs." Or whatever you think.

If they do have issues, and you end up having to deal with what you have now, ask for more. More upgrades, more vouchers, more money.

Even if you have no luck with the supervisor, You'd be amazed at how being kind when checking in and asking, "Can you help me, the airline really messed up our arrangements. We'd like to sit together in EC as we had originally arranged on our reservation. Is there anyway you can arrange this for us?"

Also, try social media. Twitter may help!

I've got everything crossed for you!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:27 PM on August 25


Thank you to everyone who took time to reply and offer suggestions and look up flights. You really helped alleviate my anxiety and stress.

I think we are all sorted now. As several of you suggested, they don't really have any incentive to find different routes but appear to be amenable to rebooking if travelers find something that works better. My husband called back with a new itinerary and was ultra-polite and got them to change it.

We ended up changing the second part of our last week. We originally planned to spend the last ten days on a brief tour of Italy (Florence to Rome to Sorrento and flying home from Naples).

We elected to abandon Sorrento and Naples and are now taking the train from Rome to Zurich, spending a couple of days in Zurich, flying Zurich to Amsterdam, overnight in Amsterdam, then back on our original flights from Amsterdam to Seattle to Portland. We even almost got our original seats back but they were taken before the agent could complete the booking, dang it! But we got Economy Comfort and are once again sitting together - hurrah! (The agent said she'd keep checking to see if two seats on the bulkhead open up.) She gave us two vouchers for $100 each on future travel. I'm not sure I'm dying to book Delta again but it's something at least.

We had to eat the cost of the hotel in Naples (only one night at least) and I'm sorry we won't see Pompeii but the upside is that we are taking the Bernina Express as part of the Rome to Zurich route. It looks to be a low key day of sitting on trains looking a gorgeous scenery which will be welcomed at the end of a long vacation.

Thanks again!
posted by Beti at 6:03 PM on August 25


Hey, all right! I'm sure you will find Zurich worthwhile, that's one on my list. If the seats are important, definitely check back yourself, especially in the last few days before a flight. When the upgrade window opens, usually 48 or 24 hours out, the folks who are moving up to business are almost certainly already in the premium economy section, so better seats can appear. Enjoy your trip!
posted by wnissen at 10:18 PM on August 25


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