I am no fan of airline delays, but as someone who spends about 60 percent of my time traveling, I have come to learn that not all delays are created equal. I had the unfortunate experience of being part of Delta Air Lines recent outage as I was attempting to travel from Austin, Texas to Jacksonville, Florida on Monday. I was awakened to the news of the outage, but figured it wouldn’t affect me. About two hours before I was schedule to leave for the airport, I received a notification from the travel agency that my flight was delayed by one hour. No problem. I head on to the airport. Less than one minute after the driver left me, I received a second notification informing me of another one-hour delay. By the time I got into the terminal to see the very long lines at Delta, it was obvious, my trip on Delta was not going to happen.
Despite the chaos at the counter, the Delta personnel could not have been nicer. They were deeply sincere in their concern for my situation. They explored several ways to try to help me get to Jacksonville on Delta. They then escorted me over to Southwest Airlines where there were no lines and a flight available. I should add that the Southwest employees, who experienced a similar outage just a week before, were also very sympathetic. So, after 6 hours in the Austin airport, I finally arrived in Jacksonville at 11 p.m., with a stop in Houston.
My takeaways from the experience:
- The power outage limited Delta’s ability to have direct communications with me. Thank goodness for travel agencies and apps.
- The Delta counter staff remained calm, cool, collected and most important, empathetic. As a result, the huge crowd at the counter was very understanding and patient.
- Delta’s CEO sent a heartfelt apology through multiple digital channels. The result: Travelers were coming to Delta’s defense.
- We still don’t know what caused the outage and what Delta will do to prevent it from happening again.
Just another day of travel, with many lessons learned.
Further evidence that Delta’s heartfelt apology made me feel like a valued member (8/12 Update):