Airline caused inconvenience

Dear Editor,
It was not my intention to complain in writing of my treatment by Delta Air Lines staff while on my way to Guyana for the Christmas holidays, but having heard of the similar experiences of some of my relatives and friends, I feel compelled to do so.

My granddaughter and I arrived at the Delta Air Lines terminal at the JFK International on the night of December 13, 2008, for a flight to Guyana, which was leaving early December 14, 2008. We were among the first at the airport for that purpose, and the flight # was DL 383. It was at the check-in of our hand luggage that our nightmare began. We, along with many other passengers, were directed to a special area, where we were told to place our hand luggage in a compartment-type enclosure to determine its suitability for classification as hand luggage. This we did, and our luggage conformed to the classification, since it fitted quite comfortably within the enclosure.

Despite this, however, the officer claimed that he was not seeing some “white line,” and he proceeded to instruct that items be taken out from the hand luggage until he could see this line. I found this course of action very strange, since in all my years of travel, never have I passed through this type of white-line check, even though I have been using the same hand luggage for quite some time.

This exercise proved to be one steeped in absurdity, since my granddaughter had to bring to the officer’s attention that even though articles had been removed from our hand luggage, the dimensions of the luggage remained the same and only the weight was altered. Regrettably, we were unable to bring those articles, many of which were for the Christmas season.

I have no problem with observing regulations, but surely if Delta has specific dimensions for their hand luggage, they must inform the travelling public in advance and not wait until passengers arrive at the terminal to subject themselves to this white-line fiasco. En passant, let me add that I later saw passengers on board, who had hand luggage (duffel bags) which were much larger than ours and appeared to be much heavier too.
Our drama continued when we presented our tickets for checking. The attendant officer stated that we could not sit together because our tickets were not booked together. This was not the case, since three  tickets, including one for my husband, were booked together and paid for before June 2008. Unfortunately, my husband died towards the end of June 2008. Ironically, while my granddaughter and myself were prevented from sitting together, the seat next to her and one in the same row across the aisle, remained empty throughout the journey.

Finally I wish to highlight two in-flight incidents of concern. The first was a flight attendant remarking to a passenger that he had paid for a seat, not the whole plane when he was simply seeking assistance from her to identify space in the overhead compartment for his hand luggage; and the other was an elderly man who requested some water to aid in taking his medication being bluntly told that he would have to wait until refreshments were being served, which would have been some time into the flight.

I will however say to Delta staff that they should take a page out of the book of their counterparts at their Georgetown (Guyana Office) and at the CJIA, Timehri, all of whom were quite polite and professional in their dealings with customers.

Yours faithfully,
E Austin (Ms)

Editor’s note
We sent a copy of this letter to General Manager of Delta Air Lines Inc, Mr Junior Horatio, for any comments he might have wished to make, and received the following response from Ms Raquel Chandleur, District Sales Manager Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and St Lucia, in response:
“We are very sorry for the inconveniences this incident may have caused to Ms Austin. At DELTA Air Lines we take great pride in our award-winning customer service. Sad events like the one she experienced are not common occurrences, nor a portrait of the excellent service for which we are known around the world. We welcome feedback to ensure constant improvements to the service we offer to our customers as we continue to be the airline of choice for travellers in all markets we serve.”

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