Delta Customer Care called to ARGUE with me!

 
Old Jul 12, 06, 6:20 pm
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by Giovanni
...I encountered the most unaccomodating gate agent I've ever seen.

Not even remotely apologetic - or even interested in helping me resolve my situation. I had to practically pry the location of the nearest "missed connections" desk out of him with a crowbar.

Upon arriving at the missed connections desk, a Delta employee took one look at my itinerary and told me, "This was a missed connection waiting to happen, and should have never been booked".

I'm merely commenting to Delta that their own employees agree with me that this itinerary is barely feasible given the frequency of delays into ATL - and that I as a passenger shouldn't be required to know the layout of an airport, how far I should be expected to walk, and what constitutes a reasonable amount of time for a connection at an airport that I've never been to.

I as a passenger should expect to be able to purchase a ticket from an air carrier, and feel confident that they can accomodate the itinerary that they sold me. Showing up at a gate 10 minutes prior to arrival (and running the length of ATL in about 15 mins) and not being able to board a flight isn't really acceptable customer service as far as I am concerned.
I still don't understand how Delta could possibly satisfy you unless they move the flight times for your particular flight. I don't think that they should routinely hold the flight for anyone that's late. (I feel different about this when it is the last flight of the day.)

I think that 40 minutes is a perfectly acceptable connection time at ATL, though it comes with an increased risk if your inbound plane is late. The longer the connection time, the less risk. This is true of any airline at any airport.

If you deplaned at ATL with 30 minutes until your next flight's departure time, then you had 20 minutes to get from one gate to the next. Most people can travel between any two gates in ATL within 20 minutes. I can hurry between any two gates in ATL within 10 minutes. (On very rare occassions, I've encountered slight delays with the trains, but I usually find them pretty dependable. And walking the tunnel is always an option.)

In CLT, I think that it would take more time to get from the end of Concourse B to the end of Concourse E than it takes to get between many gates in ATL. However, you happened to find that your own flight needs work out with a longer scheduled connection time -- therefore less risk during flight delays. But if the scheduled connection time there were 40 minutes, you'd be facing increased risk in a delay just like at ATL.

It doesn't sound to me that Delta's schedule has a problem. It does sound as if you would be better served by using a travel agent or travel advisor than booking by yourself online. All of the major airlines have tried to remove the travel agents from the booking process for most travellers. (And to a large extent, I support this move.) But part of the job of travel agents/advisors is to help travellers make educated decisions about the level of risk in each factor within an itinerary.

Where I think that you DO have a valid complaint is that you claim to have received poor customer service from the gate agent following your missed connection. My feeling about the agent at the missed connections desk is that the agent was perhaps trying to empathize with you and to alleviate some of the anger and frustration that often gets directed at the staff members in that department. Maybe what that agent should have said is that a flight with a 40 minute connection had an increased risk of misconnection if there were any delays. (But that would probably tick off most people.) If there were no delays, it was fine. If it was prohibited from being booking, then the alternative was a mandatory long layover.

The issue that seems to have gotten a lot of attention in this thread is one that I don't think seemed to be one of your main concerns when I read your OP. The agent that phoned you said that they can't compensate you, and I think that was an appropriate thing to say. It's so often the next question that comes out of people, and this agent told you up front that they considered it. Why should the agent play a game to wait and see if you are one of the relatively few that don't ask?

The fact is that you DO want compensation. Your desired compensation just isn't in the form of money or points or Delta Cash. You want SOMETHING, but Delta can't or won't give it to you. And some of us probably agree with Delta that whatever you want from them is not something that should be given to you. What is it that you really want?

If your desired compensation is a letter or phone call with a certain statement or promise, what do you want them to say? If it's that a 40 minute connection time should be prohibited in ATL, I don't think that they should say that. If it's just an apology for a rude gate agent, then I think that they should apologize. If it's an explanation about whether or not they think that 40 minutes should be adequate, I think that they already addressed that.

Perhaps the compensation that you seek is the addition of an extra warning on their website (and all 3rd party websites and booking agents?) that short connections have increased risk of missed connections. Is this the subject of your letter that the agent on the phone refused to address? If not, what subject did she refuse to address?

As I see it, Delta called you because they care. If they didn't care, they wouldn't have responded at all. If they cared less, they probably would have sent a form letter. In your case, a form letter probably would have been a better approach for them.
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Old Jul 12, 06, 6:45 pm
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by sc flier
Most people can travel between any two gates in ATL within 20 minutes. I can hurry between any two gates in ATL within 10 minutes.
10 minutes?

When I last connected between E32 to A6, it took me over 22 minutes (and that's with fast walking combined with occasional sprints depending on how crowded the concourse corridor was....as well as taking the train).....and I luckily got to the gate 17 minutes prior to departure.

In a case when a delay reduced my connection time to 30 minutes, I also had to run from Exx to Axx and ended up missing my flight by 5 minutes (FYI, the flight was "closed", but had not yet pushed back).

The GA for that flight simply rebooked me onto the next flight.

FWIW, whenever I'm connecting in ATL, I always try to book a minimum connection time of at least 50 minutes..........and prefer a connection of 60-90 minutes (possibly even 120 if there are very few flights or its the last flight of the day to my destination).

A.J.

Last edited by Bulldog King; Jul 12, 06 at 6:58 pm
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Old Jul 12, 06, 6:59 pm
  #48  
 
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The issue seems to me the attitude, not the content, of the call. It is hard to know the full picture from the OPs post but compensation probably did not need to be brought up and an apology for the delay was in order. This apology should have been followed by a suggestion to book longer connections....

Ice...I am very glad DL, AA, and all my airlines allow me to decide how short a connection I want to accept (within the rules). I would hate it if DL no longer allowed 40 min connections at ATL or AA 40 min connections at MIA. If I misconnect, I would not blame the airline. However, I would also expect the airline not to say it was my fault; I should not have booked it. I took a risk that they would be on time, they were not on time, so now they need to do their best to accommodate me, not blame me for the result of their lack of on-time performance.
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Old Jul 12, 06, 7:21 pm
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Bulldog King
10 minutes?

When I last connected between E32 to A6, it took me over 22 minutes (and that's with fast walking combined with occasional sprints depending on how crowded the concourse corridor was....as well as taking the train).....and I luckily got to the gate 17 minutes prior to departure.
E Concourse messes things up a little bit. The international connection times are slightly longer but I do realize that not all flights at E are international. I agree that 10 minutes is a pretty tight time frame but 20 is usually more than enough. Most domestic mainline connections will be A-A A-B B-A B-B. Of course, I know there is the ASA mess at C and some RJs and mainline at D & T and the occassional domestic flight at E but 80% or mine are in A or B.
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Old Jul 12, 06, 7:38 pm
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Originally Posted by indufan
E Concourse messes things up a little bit. The international connection times are slightly longer but I do realize that not all flights at E are international.
FWIW, all of my flights in/out of E this year have been domestic.

This issue of "distant" connections was most evident in the beginning of the year when the 6am departure from LGA was always scheduled to arrive at a gate in the 30s on E concourse (not to mention was usually late) and as such, I frequently had to run to catch my connecting flight out of T, A or B.

The funny thing is that when I last connected in ATL (to DL171....ATL-LAX 777 which departs out of E), my 6am LGA flight was sent to a gate in B concourse.

Go figure....

A.J.
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Old Jul 12, 06, 7:41 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by Bulldog King
10 minutes?
Yes, 10 minutes from the time I get out of the jetway.

From the end of Concourse A to the center is just shy of 1/4 mile. Same from center of Concourse E to it's end. There are 4 stops on the train that will travel 3/4 mile. And you could optionally get off the train when it stops at D to walk/run to E and beat the rest of the folks on the train.

Someone want to time the train today from A to E? I'm curious too about how long some of those long escalators actually take if there's a crowd preventing you from climbing up/down them.

Subtract that train and escalator time from 22 minutes, and we'll know how quickly Bulldog King can fast walk with occasional sprints.

I'm pleased that most of my connections don't require 4 - 5 train stops. However, it does seem that a disproportionate number of them are at the end of a terminal when I would most prefer that they weren't.

And I've had many times that the usually-empty tunnel between B29 and C30 has come in quite handy for a quick connection.
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Old Jul 12, 06, 10:03 pm
  #52  
 
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Originally Posted by sc flier
Yes, 10 minutes from the time I get out of the jetway.

From the end of Concourse A to the center is just shy of 1/4 mile. Same from center of Concourse E to it's end. There are 4 stops on the train that will travel 3/4 mile. And you could optionally get off the train when it stops at D to walk/run to E and beat the rest of the folks on the train.

Someone want to time the train today from A to E? I'm curious too about how long some of those long escalators actually take if there's a crowd preventing you from climbing up/down them.

Subtract that train and escalator time from 22 minutes, and we'll know how quickly Bulldog King can fast walk with occasional sprints.
To be fair, let's not forget time spent waiting for a train if one pulls away right in front of you.


My point is that NOBODY should be expected to rush between flights at any airport.

What happens if someone gets "hurt" while running to catch a plane?

Who is liable?

The airline for "forcing" someone to run in order to catch their flight?

Or the person for being stupid by trying to make such a tight connection?

I guess someone needs to slip and fall down the escalator at E concourse because they were rushing down it to catch the train.....before anyone deals with such situations.


If an accurate minimum recommended time for making a connection at ATL is to be determined, then it should be made up of:

1) someone "strolling" (i.e. not a fast-paced walk) down the longest half of a concourse x2

2) riding the tallest escalator without any climbing x2

3) wait time between trains

4) time it takes for the train to go from E to T

That total + 20% should be the MINIMUM recommended connection time at ATL.

As far as delayed flights are concerned.....

Once a delayed flight arrives, the GA meeting the plane should contact the GAs of any flights that have connecting passengers onboard the delayed flight to let them know that the passengers are on their way....as well as instruct those passengers to go directly to their flights.

If it's apparent that there's not enough time for a passenger to make it without delaying the connecting flight too much (i.e. less than 15 minutes before departure), then the passengers should be rebooked by the GAs meeting the delayed flight......instead of having the passengers make a futile attempt at rushing to catch their flight and miss it by less than 5 minutes.

FWIW, if a person wants to book a shorter connection.....they should have to acknowledge it (in such a way as when someone selects an exit row seat online and acknowledges that they meet the criteria)......and if they miss their connecting flight even though their inbound was on-time, be forced to fly standby on the next available flight to their destination.

A.J.
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Old Jul 13, 06, 12:37 am
  #53  
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Originally Posted by Bulldog King

The airline for "forcing" someone to run in order to catch their flight?
I do NOT run, period end of sentence. It will either be there when I get there or not. Now, I can walk fast. I also very rarely walk up or down a escalator. I will walk on a moving sidewalk.
[QUOTE=Bulldog King]

Originally Posted by Bulldog King
I guess someone needs to slip and fall down the escalator at E concourse because they were rushing down it to catch the train.....before anyone deals with such situations.
I am sure MANY people have slipped and fallen down the escalator at E.
Originally Posted by Bulldog King
That total + 20% should be the MINIMUM recommended connection time at ATL.
I would say it's pretty close to this. I really think you can do this in about 25 minutes +5 for 20%.
Originally Posted by Bulldog King
Once a delayed flight arrives, the GA meeting the plane should contact the GAs of any flights that have connecting passengers onboard the delayed flight to let them know that the passengers are on their way....as well as instruct those passengers to go directly to their flights.
This wouldn't work. A gate agent at the receiving gate would never get off the phone. They can check those connections anytime they want via the computer. And even more difficult question is when to hold and when to go. I think we all agree that they should wait 5 minutes on connecting passengers. What about 10? 15? Where is the line. I mean if you waited 5 it's only 5 minutes more for 10.
Originally Posted by Bulldog King
If it's apparent that there's not enough time for a passenger to make it without delaying the connecting flight too much (i.e. less than 15 minutes before departure), then the passengers should be rebooked by the GAs meeting the delayed flight......instead of having the passengers make a futile attempt at rushing to catch their flight and miss it by less than 5 minutes.
Several times, I have had a computer rebook me automatically on a later flight AND I still made the original one. I never even notice this until it is still on my iten page when I get to my destination. When I do miss a flight, usually, I don't call anyone is there is a machine nearby that will print me a boarding pass. By the way, Delta is a little misleading. Not any gate reader that is on will print a boarding pass only some of them will.
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Old Jul 13, 06, 12:55 am
  #54  
 
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Originally Posted by Bulldog King
That total + 20% should be the MINIMUM recommended connection time at ATL.
I'm all in favor of much of what you have said, but I strongly think that it should be kept strictly as a recommendation. If I want to override that recommendation time, then I should have the option to gamble for that. And I think that warning should only be given in very tight schedules such as 30 - 45 minutes.

In most cases, the flights do not require travelling more than three concourses away and I think that it would be foolish for Delta to warn everyone that would most likely be connecting from A to B that the recommended connection time is based on having to connect from T to E.

Nonetheless, according to Northwest's website, NWA's reservation system mandates a 55 minute minimum connect time in ATL.

I would say that the reality of connecting in ATL is that the MCT should vary depending on time of day. The MCT late in the day should be longer than in the morning. The MCT on storm-prone June afternoons should be longer than on afternoons in late March. But I don't think that Delta should have to point out these variations to everyone. That's what travel agents/advisors should do.
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Old Jul 13, 06, 1:01 am
  #55  
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Originally Posted by sc flier

I would say that the reality of connecting in ATL is that the MCT should vary depending on time of day. The MCT late in the day should be longer than in the morning. The MCT on storm-prone June afternoons should be longer than on afternoons in late March. But I don't think that Delta should have to point out these variations to everyone. That's what travel agents/advisors should do.
I guess there is your answer is to make dynamic MCTs...based upon time of day, day of the week, gates and concourses likely to be used etc. It sounds complicated and Delta has been things to spend money on now since most people will make their flight at the MCT if the inbound is on time.
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Old Jul 13, 06, 4:28 am
  #56  
 
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Another issue about minimum connections is that when you get to the next gate, the flight boarding is well under way or even in the final stages. Go try to find overhead space near your seat for your rollaboard!
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Old Jul 13, 06, 8:11 am
  #57  
 
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Let's make this even more complex!

It's what keeps me in business!

And flying Delta. (And NW and CO etc).
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Old Jul 20, 06, 11:30 am
  #58  
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The issue with the OP here is not unique to him. As much as people in this forum try to deny it (and I'm a former DL flyer), it's an ATL issue.

I travel weekly to a small airport (TRI) whose two main carriers are US via CLT and DL via ATL similar to the OP.

EVERYONE (with almost zero exceptions) that I have met there has horror stories about DL and ATL. People have spent nights in ATL airport hotels, hours and hours in the airport etc.

US has a fine operation at CLT (PHL is terrible - I'm not going to attempt to pretend to defend it) and it's gotten them great loyalty in this community. Everyone has US credit cards, and US is flying at capacity.

Perhaps instead of shrugging their shoulder, blaming ATC, and telling the OP that there's nothing they could do, they could actually step back, examine the TRI-ATL-XXX operation, and see what everyone in TRI is flying US?
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Old Jul 20, 06, 9:57 pm
  #59  
 
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Hmmm... You know, I've flown through ATL a LOT over the years (slogging back and forth between PHL and DAB). Between the disaster that is PHL ground, NE corridor ATC, winter storms, famous ATL summer weather, and the occasional hurricane and tropical depression/storm/what have you out of Florida, you'd think that I'd have a never-ending supply of ATL horror stories.

Oddly enough, I do not. I believe in over 20 years of travel in ATL, I've only ever been stuck overnighting there ONCE! Yeah, I've had some misconnections. Somehow, DL was always able to rebook me onto SOMETHING to get me to my destination (I've had to do JAX once or twice, and MCO more than a couple of times, and ABE once, but they always found something).

Bottom line: Air travel isn't an exact science. If you're a frequent traveler, you should know enough to accept that delays happen. I've had tight connections in ATL but, generally speaking, 40 minutes is sufficient to get me from one gate to another, and I don't run, and I don't walk up escalators.

It honestly sounds to me like the OP isn't a very frequent traveler and may not be aware of some of the issues around delays we tend to take for granted.
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Old Jul 21, 06, 5:32 pm
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For my own peace of mind, I decided long ago never to book an itinerary flying with any airline with a connection of less than 1 hour domestic, 2 hours international. If delta.com gives me one with an absurd connection, I move on to another itinerary (on DL or another airline) that gives me what I require. And in 6 years of relatively frequent business travel, I've never missed a connecting flight.

YMMV
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