I have been sitting on this one for a week. Finally decided to write in. Between the website issues, AF/KL upgrade to C with SWU and now this I am seriously disappointed with my "Carrier of Choice" and am re-evaluating to either move most of my flights to UA or AA.
Please let me know if you think my criticism is fair or am I being a DYKWIA whiner.
Sent to DL via web link 11-21-12
I have generally had positive experiences with Delta and have appreciated the airline and the service offered throughout my travels. Sometimes things can happen and I realize that not every trip can be perfect. With that understanding please accept that my critics of Delta Air Lines have been quite limited, until this flight.
Some experiences are singularly horrid. They cannot be explained as a one off, single bad day or similar explanation. This what I believe is the case with my experience on Delta 268 departing JFK to TLV on 13 Nov 2012.
I have intentionally allowed one week to pass before writing this letter to allow myself time to "cool off" and to give me time to mellow my opinions of the experience. Unfortunately, Neither has been the case and following this experience I am seriously beginning to question my flying options as they relate to Delta Air Lines.
The experience started off pleasantly my flight from GSP to ATL and ATL to JFK were smooth, pleasant and early. What more could I ask for. The first hints of trouble came with the gate change from Gate 6 to 17. I assumed correctly that a minor delay was inevitable.
Here is where the experience begins to degrade. Admittedly, Tel Aviv bound passengers tend not to be the easiest to deal with. I have made on average a trip a month to Israel on Skyteam Partners and other carriers for work reasons and have become familiar with some of the unique challenges that passengers on this route can bring. Admittedly, the New York to Tel Aviv market is renowned for having unique challenges and needs. I was actually looking forward to the nonstop B747-400 with the new entertainment system and configuration. I had avoided it previously due to the lack of IFE options instead flying via CDG, AMS and FCO.
It takes a confident and assertive gate agent who is well prepared to work a Tel Aviv flight. Unfortunately, this was clearly not the case. Having four and at some times five agents whom are meek, unprepared and not assertive can be an invitation for chaos. Chaos heard the call and arrived promptly for this flight.
The PA was not used for boarding. Instead the gate agents fanned out. Some announcing the boarding line was for Sky Priority passengers then adding Business class, Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion passengers and Zone 1.
Of course this was not what the gate agent manning the scanner planned and as one gate agent put everyone in the line the other blocked anyone other then business class. (Which is what I would expect). Sadly this created a mass of people blocking the line, some harsh words and a very tension filled boarding process. The regular line with zone 2 and 3 was far worse so I guess I should not complain, I boarded when SkyPriority was called and had no issues personally other then being jostled, stepped on and yelled at by other passengers whom thanks to a gate agents without a clue felt that they were being discriminated against.
On board I arrived at my assigned seat to find it occupied. I approached flight attendant Nicholas whom may have been the only person in the entire experience who attempted to assist a passenger on this flight. He approached the passenger in my seat and we soon discovered while she could not speak or understand english that the entire bulkhead row on Economy Comfort class had been arbitrarily taken by a women, her husband, her nanny and their children. Apparently, they were travelling together and were seated separately. It became apparent they had no intention of vacating the seats and it would degrade. I spoke with Nicolas and offered to take an alternative seat. This assisted temporarily as some other passengers including several other medallions were not nearly as accommodating. I took to my new seat and began to watch what would best be described as the worst boarding experience ever. Not even flights to Port au Prince or Lagos that I have been on devolved to this.
At one point during boarding two passengers had an altercation over the overhead bin space. The situation escalated until fists were thrown and a fight ensued. Did the FAs intervene? No. Was security or the police called? No. In fact nothing was done and it was left to the passengers seated around them to separate them and defuse this situation. Absolutely unacceptable but, a telling forecast of the upcoming flight.
Yet while this was not worthy of intervention I witnessed a flight attendant threatening an elderly woman with removal from the flight when she asked for assistance with her carry on baggage. When a gentlemen tried to intervene the flight attendant threatened him.
I would be happy to provide his name and details but he carefully removed his name tag and placed his badge inside his shirt threatening the gentleman who attempted to intervene when he asked for the FA name. I will describe him as older middle aged balding male flight attendant (OMABMF for short) as he is central to several incidents throughout the flight.
Once boarding was completed and the doors closed we began the 10+ hour trip running approximately 70 mins behind schedule. It also began an experience that I will refer to as 10+ hours of being incarcerated by Delta.
During the flight I observed the worst behavior by the in flight crew that I have ever observed on any airline flight. While I was fortunate enough not to be the direct object of these assaults on passengers by crew I left with a new and very unfavorable opinion of Delta.
Some of the events that I witnessed included the following...
When a passenger asked for her pre ordered Kosher meal OMABMF told her that he did not have it but she will eat the chicken. She apparently was religious and was reduced to tears.
The meal was edible the service and attitude provided was not tolerable. In fact with the exception of Nicholas, I have not encountered such contempt for passengers as what I experienced with this crew. They mocked, threatened, cajoled and intimidated the passengers without remorse.
In another example, my new seat was across from the galley. After meal service the crew joked about delaying in picking up the trays so the passengers could not clog the aisles and bother them. After nearly 45 mins with the tray on the tray table an elderly woman had to use the lavatory. I am assuming her seat mates assisted her in extracting herself from the seat and she made the mistake of bringing her tray with her when she approached the lavatory. She brought the tray to the galley and placed it on the counter. These actions resulted in a verbal assault and lecture on her rudeness and the unsanitary conditions she had created. (Really?) The FA then got on the PA and made an announcement that passengers were to remain in their seats until the trays were collected as it would create an unsanitary condition. This was a new one and in literally thousands of flights in my lifetime one that I had never heard before. After an additional 4-5 mins the FAs proceeded to begin collecting the trays apparently realizing a mutiny was approaching as now passengers were speaking loudly among themselves as to the situation.
Throughout the flight a serious tone of condensation, mocking and arrogance was present from the Flight attendants to the passengers. OMABMF was amongst the worst. Any attempt at sleep on this flight was interrupted by a series of regular nasty tones PA announcements that made it clear the passengers were nothing more then an inconvienence.
This behavior continued throughout the flight. Finally, almost mercifully the flight arrived in Tel Aviv.
As a final insult to injury....
After quickly clearing passport control I arrived at baggage claim. I would remain there for over 75 minutes. Why?
Because Delta's TLV ground crews had in their final gesture to the Delta Air Lines high value customers (Medallions, and Business Class) decided to off load all PRIORITY TAGS as the absolute LAST bags!
I left the baggage claim at almost 5pm local time. And swore this may be the last trip on Delta.
I have flown a mix of first class, business class and economy class tickets this year and will likely have flown around 160K MQMs this year. I may not fly full F and J as some but thought my business meant something to Delta. After flight DL268/13NOVJFK-TLV I am not sure.
If Delta Air Lines feels that my complaints warrant investigation I would be happy to work with them to identify offenders, incidents and victims of this flight. At minimum a letter of apology is warranted to the passengers who suffered the direct abuse and retraining or new career choices for the worst offenders are required.
Delta needs to investigate this flight and its crew further. Clearly, the crew felt enough autonomy that they could behave this way. It is likely something that has occurred before for the crew to behave so blatantly.
I look forward to your response and if needed I can be reached at +1 xxx xxx x619 or firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have further questions or require clarification. I will preface this with the following comment. I feel that Delta Air Lines does have a serious problem with the JFK-TLV crews and that investigations are warranted. I believe some form of compensation is warranted. In the past Delta has offered compensation to me on damaged bags, mis-connections and other items. I had never until this time requested it. Lastly, I believe an apology is warranted to all Economy/Economy Comfort passengers whom had to endure this crew.
xxxxxx Vitale - Delta Passenger DL268/13Nov JFK-TLV
DL Skymiles xxxxxxx287
xxx xxxxx xxxx Rd.
xxxxxxxx xx xxxxx
(xxx) xxx x619