Delta Boeing 777 - Photo: Bernie Leighton

Delta Boeing 777 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

One of the “benefits” of running an airline website are all the emails that I receive from people complaining about their airline experience. Many have an expectation that we will run a BREAKING story about how a flight was delayed 30 minutes and the person should be compensated. Honestly, many of the emails are just that ridiculous. From time to time I get an email with a legitimate concern, but the way they go about it is all wrong.

BONUS: Breaking News: OMG, Flight Delayed One Hour ’“ Thoughts on the Airline Hate Mail I Receive

They will yell and scream at the airline and demanding things change and it just always rubs me the wrong way. Recently, I was sent an email by a concerned passenger who had contacted Delta, and I thought it was pretty right-on with the tone and explanation of what happened. I wanted to share it as a “how to” guide for writing an airline a letter.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 - Photo: Bernie Leighton

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Scott, who wrote the letter, is a big fan of Delta. He told me that he grew up on Republic, then Northwest, and then transitioned to Delta post-merger. He likes Delta and thinks that the merger has gone well. He has always felt taken care of as an elite mileage member and he never complains when he doesn’t get an upgrade; he just feels satisfied when one comes through. Seems to be a really down to earth, airline-loving kind of guy. So during a recent negative experience he was surprised. Here is the letter that was written to Delta Air Lines and cc’d to me:


I normally am not too irritated regarding moderately delayed flights.  However, the hassle I experienced today trying to get home to Orlando from Moline, IL was just unacceptable.  I am not oblivious to the plight of airline operations.  There has been a cataclysmic combination of events since January 1 that continued to snowball into one big mess, snow, deep freeze and new crew rest rules to name a few.  With that being said, yesterday I volunteered to surrender my seat because you needed 10 volunteers for my flight.  I actually had fairly flexible travel plans so leaving the next day (today) didn’t really phase me.  The person who got my seat was very thankful as they were trying to get somewhere for a family event and that was worth it for me.  It seems that ExpressJet had cancelled a flight or two out of Moline yesterday.  So this morning when I awoke I decided to check and see how the flights were doing.  As it turns out the first two MLI-ATL flights of the day eventually cancelled.

As the day trudged on, I eventually got the dreaded phone call from DL saying my flight was delayed.  I immediately checked the Fly Delta App on my phone to find it was epically useless.  It wanted me to search for alternate flights or accept the flights that had been chosen for me.  Of which each time I tried to do either it ended with some sort of error.  I didn’t want to burden the reservations line, but I had no choice.  My first concern was to find out realistically or not if the airframe that was assigned to my flight was actually even going to make it to ATL to come to MLI.  I eventually got enough information to find it was in Mobile, Alabama running at least 2 hours late.  The earlier cancellations in the day were listed as ’œweather’ related.  Researching other operating partners of Delta and overall airport operations it seems ExpressJet had the bulk of cancellations in your world today.  They can try to blame weather, but when you look at other operators flying from ATL, MOB and other southern areas they were all on time.

Eventually my aircraft made it out of MOB to ATL and I decided it was likely safe to head to MLI.  My parents, who are both 74 years old, were driving me the 2 hours back to MLI to catch the flight.  I really had written this all off until I was passing through security in MLI behind a pilot for Delta Connection.  We made some small talk due to the line at security.  I made mention it’s been an interesting day with weather and crew rest.  He told me it was indeed a mess insomuch he sat almost an hour on hold with his own company today trying to get some information and was unable to talk to anyone.

While I realize that DL, ExpressJet, Endeavour Air, or any other operator didn’t institute the crew rest rules, you are still accountable for applying them to your system(s).  For that, it would seem that the people at ExpressJet epically failed.  They failed not only Delta and your employees, but your passengers and most importantly, their own employees.  By painting the cancellations with a wide brush stroke of ’œweather related’ gets you out of compensation, it doesn’t slip past those who are smart enough to do some research.

I am not writing this to stomp my feet and say I will never fly you again, because I will.  But, if your partners can’t toe the line and manage to implement mandated changes, it gives me pause as to their capability to safely get me where I need to go.

Best wishes for 2014.

Scott A-Z

A Northwest Orient DC-10 - Photo: Bob Garrard

A Northwest Orient DC-10 – Photo: Bob Garrard

Scott was calm. Understanding. Acknowledging the complexities of air travel, but still able to communicate his frustration. Why can’t more complaint letters be like that?

After a while Delta responded:

Hello Scott,

Thanks so much for your email about your recent flight delay. It’s very upsetting when one of our Elite customers doesn’t receive the service they should’ve received.

I’m really sorry your ExpressJet Airlines flight to Atlanta was delayed due to late arrival of our aircraft. We know you’re eager to get to where you are going, and it’s difficult when you have to wait. I understand you were disappointed with the delay.

We Hear You!

I’ve passed your comments directly to the Moline Airport Customer Service leadership team, so they can consider your experience when making needed changes to improve our service. We thank you for taking the time to write.

We thank you again for your business as a Medallion member and look forward to your future flights with us….that operate on schedule.

Anthony XXX
You Share, We Care

Was that enough for Scott? He told me, “I feel that their reply to this one missed the point.  The employees at MLI were not the problem.   Had their email simply said, ’œwe will pass your comments and concerns to our partners at ExpressJet’¦’ it would have made me feel they really paid attention.”

This experience won’t deter him from flying on Delta. “At the end of the day, I got home safely, which is all I ask, but their partner’s terrible management of several events likely left a black eye for many a would-be loyal travelers of Delta. I’ll close with this, even though I inherited Delta kicking and screaming as a NWA WorldPerks Elite I’ve grown to love them more than NWA.  I intend to stay loyal, even with all the recent changes that are directly aimed at the true hard scrabble butt-in-the-seat-planning-ahead mid-revenue business flier like me.”

I think we can all learn a thing or two from Scott — how to write a proper airline letter and have a proper attitude about dealing with airlines. What do you think?

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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First, David I didn’t know you were at DFW during that hailstorm in 2011. I was there that night also. We were actually at the gate, inside an M80 waiting to leave, when the storm hit. I’m a weather geek and was watching the storm come on radar, and was watching the hook echo on the radar, thinking we should get the hell out of the plane.

The captain finally announced that we needed to go inside, but as he did, hail started pounding the plane, and I mean LOUD. It was like being in a drum. We then got out, and went to the center of the building as you did.

After the storm passed, I didn’t even bother to wait. I knew they were done – all those planes were beat all to hell, and there was no way normal ops would get back going that night. I have the advantage of living in the DFW area, and I simply went home, and waited for them to reschedule me. But if I was connecting, I would have immediately grabbed a hotel room.

With regard to this issue, as a frequent traveler I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard “I’ll never fly (insert name here) again!”. Except they will, because the other guy is no different. There’s not any real difference in service level between most airlines (ULCCs notwithstanding). So all of them can get messed up. And all of them now use really cheap partners, who screw up more. Plus, in the case of American, Eagle/Envoy and Expressjet are rivals, and they will often try to screw each other and point fingers, which also messes things up.

There was literally one night I knew that an Expressjet flight at DFW was cancelled before the flight crew did. I’m not making that up. The crew and the gate agent were saying we were waiting on an inbound flight from Abilene, but the computer showed that flight had been cancelled but they didn’t know it.

If I can offer some pointers for flying:

1) Travel as light as you possibly can. If you can POSSIBLY avoid it, don’t check a bag. I mean it…NEVER if you can help it. Not having a bag checked allows you much greater flexibility in the case of problems. If you have one, you are tied to that plane, period.

2) Always be aware of the weather, both where you are, where you’re going, and where you’re connecting. And know the weather at hubs of the airline you’re going on, even if you aren’t going there. If you’re flying Delta, pay attention to Atlanta weather even if you don’t go there.

3) Always keep a backup plan, or two or three, in your mind. My flight to Seattle is having problems on American…could I possibly get them to switch me to Alaska? No? How about flying on Delta and connecting? If the weather is iffy in Seattle, can I fly to Portland or even Spokane and rent a car? A lot of times you’ll find that you can make it home a lot sooner by figuring out better ways on your own.

Yes, that was a bad night at DFW and AA really messed up. We were one of few planes that actually flew in after the storm, but the crew had too many flight hours and they had to rest. They didn’t realize (or communicate) this until after the flight arrived and by that time all the hotel rooms and other connections were gone.

I was lucky to get a room that someone gave up.

But through it all, you have to take it in stride. I was annoyed, hot, frustrated, tired. Ended up missing the Virgin American inaugural ORD flight before of the delay.

But what can you do? In the end, some times things are just going to go wrong and you can either become angry or try to solve the problem.

Your tips are surely good ones, thanks for sharing!


Plane-Mad Joe

Hey Guys, I’ve had innumerable FLIGHTMARES on United! Just this past Monday, I snail-mailed a letter to their Customer Care Department ( now in Houston ). It detailed my three 2013 FLIGHTMARES. When I fly … it’s SOP for me to bring my small notebook onboard; so I can document the details relative to each of my FLIGHTMARES. The ” NEW ” is little more than the OLD United was! I have sent MANY such letters to United, over the years! Usually they respond by sending me a Travel Certificate – now termed e-Certificate. The Dollar amount varies depending on the severity of their SNAFUS / FIASCOES. So it’s been worth my time and efforts to send them my feedback about their so-called ” service “. These certificates and Channel 9 ATC on their IFE are the main reasons I tolerate United! However, my patience has worn thin …

I think for some people, it is just a way to vent and feel better. Others it is for compensation. Even others to actually try and improve the service. Some airlines have much more potential for improvement than others.


Kudos to Scott. He did it right. Too bad Delta didn’t get the message and aim vengeance at Express Jet. (Or maybe they did but didn’t say so in the letter.) I’m sure DL is more than aware of the antics of their regional partners. But they tolerate it as they can run to/from Moline cheaper than the mainline carriers. The occasional nasty-gram from a screwed passenger is just part of the cost of doing business.

Pays to have a plan B, especially when flying out of smaller airports. Verify inbound airframe is actually in the air before you leave your ride to the airport. No bags, plenty to keep you busy while waiting. Armed with the app and the 800# on speed dial. Be ready to rock and get there first when the dreaded PA announcement happens. The faster you are on the web/phone, the better your odds.

Fare thee well oh harried traveller! (Or learn to fly and buy your own plane!)

Being polite and understanding in the face of Fligtmares as named by Plane Mad Joe has netted me more than 100,000 sky miles and over $500. Airlines can’t fix the weather and can’t over rule the FAA, but their frontline people can and will help you out when they can. In the midst of any major airline upheaval there are usually employees who appear to be unable to do anything or cope, and those that are trying hard. Note the names of those who are trying hard and pass on to the airline that even though we had no plane and no crew the gate agent Plane Mad Joe was working the phones to get us news etc. You do really get more bees with honey instead of vinegar

Plane-Mad Joe

Greg, I mainly detail to United the SNAFUS / FIASCOES I endure on each itinerary when I write to them. I may question or challenge them if they can do any BETTER than whatever their LATEST offense was. I point out to them that United has had 70>80 YEARS to develop a mature product! At this point in their history, UA SHOULD have learned from their mistakes and CORRECTED them!?

I have written many such Feedback Letters, over the years! However, similar or WORSE SNAFUS continue – year after year after year!? This indicates to me that UA DEFINITELY has incompetent ” managers ” who CANNOT ” fix ” the issues I detail in my letters!

I recently had an e-mail from a friend, who lives in the Seattle region, who wrote that he flew 500,000 miles on United; during his working career; during the 1970s to 90s. He reported to me, however, that he now REFUSES to fly UA because of their deteriorating ” service ” he experienced in recent years!

My Feedback Letters to United, as I reported above, have resulted in Travel / e-certificates totaling at LEAST $800>900 dollars! ( I’ve never tallied the total ). Last year, I used a single e-certificate valued at $300 for an itinerary.

One benefit as a UA Mileage Plus Member is that I’ve flown Star Alliance Partners! Last year, I flew LH from ATL-FRA-NRT. The FRA-NRT segment was on a A380 – my third flight on a 380. In early May 2014, I’ll fly back from NRT-ORD on a NH 773ER. I try to fly partners as often as I can!

Furthermore, I’ve flown four flights on Emirates! All were flights were full! Each flight was SUPERLATIVE! I highly recommend flying EK! No US air carrier I’ve ever flown comes CLOSE to EK’s service – and I flew in Y Class! It seems that US carriers are content with mediocrity!

I recently flew with Delta on January 7, 2016, returning to Atlanta from Pittsburg. The original flight had been delayed due to the weather. So I was rescheduled on another flight later in the same day. My experience on the flight which was completely full (every seat taken) was somewhat uncomfortable. The passenger sitting next to me had a dog. I was not aware that I had been assigned next a passenger with a dog. Unfortunately I am very uncomfortable around dogs and prefer not to be near them if possible. I feel that Delta should have made me aware that I was assigned a seat next to a customer with a dog. As I mentioned, this was a flight in which every seat was occupied. Delta should not assume that all customers are comfortable with sitting next to someone with a dog. I completed a survey online after returning from my trip expressing my feelings with sitting next to a customer with her dog. However I received no response from Delta Air Lines. The flight # was DL1495 departing from Pittsburg at 1:40 PM and arriving in Atlanta around 3:00 PM. or there about. I will continue to fly with Delta, however in the future I will make sure I mention that I prefer not sit near someone with their pet.
Thanks Juanita Curry at jc*****@ya***.com

Edith C. Christian

Hi my name is Edith I was going to saposed to fly home on flight 2351 from Orlando to Dallas . I was trying to make it to Wichita, Kansas to say good bye to my grandmother who was in a comma due to bleeding in her brain after her stroke from a blood cloth. i missed saying goodbye to her due to the delay that i had on July 1st 2017. my flight was supposed to leave . They never told us why the flight was late. so by the I got to Dallas I already missed my flight going home to my grandmother and she died before i got to her. It was very upsetting. I had to spend the in the airport for 8 in half hours. The next flight was for 8;45am on flight 5831 got to wichita at 10:am on Sunday Morning . It was a very upsetting time at Dallas because I found out my grandmother died I cried a lot an d I was alone for this trip because I couldn’t afford for my children to go with. I called American Airline and spoke to someone about this and they told me I had to Write to you. so this is what i have done. I have proof if you need that. I know it wasn’t due to any weather problems . we were delayed with the flight from Chicago going to Orlando. so I am asking for some kind of compensation because this delayed I wasn’t able to leave that night i had to spend the night on the chairs but i slept on the floor. holding on to my luggages and my purse so no one could take them. I was my Grandmother first grandchild and I loved her very dearly.
Thank You
Edith Christine Christian


Edith C. Christian

Now I have another complaint. I was trying to get through security in Wichita ,Kansas. I alr eady told you about the flight well. i as going trough security and they stopped me because of my bag. In t6he bad was a porsaline doll I got from my grandmother who had passed away. one angel and a water globe with an angel that played Amazing Grace. The lady that was going through my stuff the first thing that came out of her mouth was do you want me to brake it now or trow away it. I was so pissed I started crying. I told her no that was my grandmothers that you could never replaced. And told her we just had her funeral on Monday and for you to talk to me like that . HOW DARE YOU . DO YOU WANT TO SEE PROOF I TOOK PICTURE OF MY GRANDMOTHER IN HER CASKET. AND I HAVE HER FLYER. THEN THE LADY SAID WELL THEN CALL SOME TO PICK IT OR HAVE IT MAILED TO YOURSELF. She was so rude. so i had to go back through again and now a gentleman stops me because of my purse. witch they did not stop me the first time with it now so why are they looking through it now? The guy said we have to check your purse now because we don’t know what you have in there either you may have another globe. so i was very pissed hurt and crying .i have never been so upset . so they sent my musical angel globe and when my packaged got to my house in Jacksonville, Fl it was so broken . American Airlines I am not pleased with the security in Wichita at all. They were very mean , and ugly.

Thank You
Edith Christine Christian


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