My husband and I were passengers on August 12th, 2006 on a flight to BOI, originating in PHX with a plane change in SLC. The flight from PHX to SLC was delayed due to mechanical problems. We understand this happens from time to time and waited patiently for our plane to depart. However, we were concerned that we would miss our connection in SLC. The gate agents assured us (and the other six passengers that were headed to BOI) that we would make it in time and that "this flight is always late." The departure time was pushed back further and further until we were an hour late and it became clear that unless the plane in SLC bound for BOI was held for a few minutes we would not make it. The gate agents happily assured us that if we did not make it that accommodations would be made for us for the night as this was the last flight out of SLC to BOI until the next morning.
We arrived in Salt Lake City just ten minutes after the scheduled departure time of the flight from SLC to BOI. The plane had already left. The gate agent in Salt Lake City---perhaps the happiest man in the city---handed out hotel, shuttle, and food vouchers to the eight of us stranded in SLC. He cheerfully informed us that the airport restaurants were now closed, but we could have some vouchers anyway. I guess if we got hungry enough we could just eat the vouchers, a good source of fiber.
The other passengers took the gate agent's word for it, but we looked around and found a restaurant open. Upon opening the menu, however, we discovered that our $7 a piece food voucher wouldn't even cover an appetizer. We used three of our vouchers to cover our scant meal leaving one voucher left for breakfast.
When we headed downstairs to get our baggage, we were met by our fellow passengers who had been waiting for their own bags. It seemed that a ball was dropped somewhere along the line and our bags were not brought out. The very apologetic baggage counter worker gave us each a complimentary hygiene bag. "There is a free t-shirt inside!" she exclaimed with a smile and sent us on our way. My husband and I asked her to check once more for our bags as I had medications in my bag that were very important for me to take that evening (I understand that medication should be carried on, but this was the time of the new regulations for no liquids to be carried aboard and my medications were not in containers labeled with my name.) Luckily for us, our bags were found. Unluckily for our six fellow passengers, theirs were not.
After being packed like sardines in a shuttle van, we were driven 15 minutes away from the airport to a one-star hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 11pm. For the next 45 minutes, my husband called shuttles and cab companies searching for someone to pick us up at 5:30 the next morning. We called Delta and tried to get some help and found none. We were told to keep trying. We were lucky to finally find a cab driver available and willing to pick us up. Five hours of sleep later, we arrived back at SLC airport.
We found the airport just as vacant as we left it the evening before with only one place open for breakfast. Our one remaining food voucher wasn't enough to cover the two of us.
While we recognize that our experience could have been much worse and while we are grateful for happy and polite Delta employees, we feel Delta has room for much improvement. While looking back and thinking about our experience, I have some suggestions for you:
*Perhaps a flight that is "always late" should be rescheduled to a time that will be easier to achieve.
*Holding a flight for 15 minutes so that eight passengers can catch their connecting flight home just might be more cost effective than providing meals, transportation, and hotels for those individuals.
*When it does become necessary to strand passengers, a system should be implemented which allows their baggage to be stranded with them. The free t-shirt is a nice thing, but hardly replaces ones own luggage.
*Some assistance with finding transportation for tired and frustrated passengers would be appreciated.
As I am reminded on almost every flight I take, I have a choice when I fly, and Delta will no longer be among my top choices.