The Delta Experience

I took Delta airlines for the first time recently and the experience wasn’t the most pleasant. Singaporeans seem to take Delta a lot due to its low price as compared with many other decently reputed airlines, which is a fair reason, although I’ve never thought of giving that airline a try.

During this recent trip I flew together with Ms. D, we actually bought our tickets separately. I didn’t have plans to fly initially, so she had already had her ticket before I decided to fly as well. Since we’re gonna be on the same flight, it would be good if we sat next to each other and so, I checked the available seats online.

Turns out, almost all the regular economy class seats were filled, including the one next to hers. The only remaining window-side seats were the Preferred seats, which would cost another SGD$40+ (almost 4,000 yen). I asked her if she would be willing to fork out that additional amount to guarantee a pleasant passenger have me next to her, and she very nicely agreed. So, both of us paid the extra fare and selected the Preferred seats side-by-side.

On the day of the flight, as we checked in together, we were given completely different seats very far apart from each other because the aircraft changed. Which wasn’t exactly ridiculous because since we got our tickets separately, there was no reason the airline could have known we knew each other and wanted to be seated together. But here comes the problem: I was given another Preferred seat while Ms. D was assigned to another regular seat despite having paid for the Preferred seat.

We asked the staff to check for us and they said they couldn’t put us together on any Preferred seat because all the Preferred seats are filled. The staff checked the system for us and said there are no records of us having paid for the Preferred seats. Now, that got me annoyed, but I’ve been in the service line before, so I know to be nice to the front-line staff (also since it wasn’t their fault that shit like that happened). Both of us whipped out our phones to show the payment receipt for the Preferred seats and the ground staff decided to make a call to the protected ones back office who verified that we did pay for our Preferred seats. So all is good right?

Not really.

Since the ground staff told us there weren’t anymore Preferred seats available for us, we told them we were fine with any seat as long as we were seated next to each other and requested for them to refund the amount for the Preferred seats to us. The back office staff said, “No.” They said they can put us together at available regular seats but they will not refund the money because the change of aircraft is not their fault.

Oh fuck. Well done, US airlines.

Of course, we’re not backing down on this one. If it’s not their fault, then is it ours? We insisted that we paid additional fees for, and chose the Preferred seats. Now that your aircraft has changed and you decide to put us at regular seats, how can you charge us for it?

Listening to the conversation the young ground staff was having with the person at the back office, the other two senior ground staff members were shaking their heads but while remaining calm and very helpful to us, trying to explain to the back office why it is only fair to refund our monies. All this while the older ground staff member had already printed out our boarding passes on the available regular seats.

Eventually, after a few lengthy phone calls, some many talks and help by the ground staff, the back office person decided we were right and said they would refund the amount to us. And of course, we got our regular seats together. While the experience was a little shitty, we were very grateful to the ground staff who assisted us and very calmly resolved the issue.

I didn’t get the names of the staff but I would like to use this entry to extend my gratitude to them. It was the DL166 flight on Nov. 12. We checked in at about 4am, and the two ground staff members at the counter were an Indian and a Chinese gentlemen who look to be in their 40s and 50s, as well as a young Chinese lady ground staff who appear to be in her early 20s.

Ground staff members are like the infantry division, who gets the bulk of nonsense from enemies customers even though the shit stemmed from back office. While I feel that I will not take Delta again (and also Scoot. Yes, I’m very unforgiving of airlines), I still feel that we should all try to be nice to front-line service staff. If you don’t like them taking an unruly attitude toward you, then likewise, they don’t appreciate you treating them badly.

Let’s all be nice to everybody, every day.

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