How to handle cancellations / delays: my Delta experience

In August I went to Hawaii from Los Angeles with my family, who were flying from NYC. On the outbound, originally my family was ticketed via Delta JFK – LAX – OGG (Maui). I was ticketed 5pm departure LAX – OGG on the same flight.

Guess what? The night before at midnight, a whole 17 hours before flight departure, Delta sends me a text message saying my flight is delayed 4 hr and 15 mins, so I wouldn’t arrive into Hawaii until after 1 am. Uh oh. This created a few problems, first my family’s connection in LA would be over 6 hrs with nothing to do but to sit at the airport, plus we would lose the whole day in Hawaii, and the car rental company would be closed upon arrival. Certainly not idea, needed to fix this ASAP and see what my options were.

flight delays

My thought was my family will still take the JFK – LAX flight and we’ll take another airline’s flight from LAX to OGG…not major problem right? Wrong. I called Delta, and after a lengthy 40 min finally spoke to someone. I asked to be placed on another airline, UA or AA who both had same routings around the same time. This is known as Rule 240 on Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines where they will place you on another carrier to get you to your destination. First response, Delta won’t place customers on AA….ok that sucks. So UA was my only choice. Despite seeing plenty of seats to purchase online, the agent said she couldn’t access anymore seats from LAX to OGG on UA. What to do now?

The agent was very helpful, poked around, and came up with a JFK – SFO Delta flight for my family, and SFO – OGG leg on United. This was decent, and arrived earlier than the original routing. For me from LAX, she could only place me on the earlier Delta flight from LAX at 8:35am. She was not able to fly me LAX – SFO – OGG so I can catch the same UA flight. I wanted this so I could fly with my family and it was later in the day so I wouldn’t have to get to the airport so early. I understood why she couldn’t do this routing, even though she didn’t tell me…Delta isn’t going to pay for me to be placed on another airline if they don’t have to, and since I was originating in LAX which is a route they fly and had seats on the early flight they’ll just put me on that.

So ultimately I flew earlier to Maui from LA and met my family hours later when they travelled via SFO. The morning flight of course was way-overbooked due to the evening flight’s delay. They offered first class passengers $1,000 USD AMEX gift card and routing via Honolulu and economy passengers $800 voucher and first-class on the night flight to Maui (which they didn’t mention was delayed 4 hrs to the unknowing people who gave up their seats, lol.) I didn’t give up my seat.

Alls well that ends well you’d think….except my family upon changing terminals in SFO and checking in for the UA flight, the Delta agent didn’t actually issue the ticket for the UA flight. She had only reserved the seats so United couldn’t issue the boarding pass. Yikes. So another episode at the airport, United agents kindly calling Delta to issue the ticket via the phone which took a bit of holding time. Ultimately it worked out, but make sure your ticket is issued if you’re booked on another airline.

Kudos to Delta to letting me know way ahead of time on the delay. My guess the equipment was being held up in some faraway land, and it wouldn’t get to LA until late…or maybe there was some malfunction and they had to wait to pull one out of service. The Delta agent tried to get me to my destination and honor my requests, although I’m not sure why they couldn’t access the UA inventory from LA. Next time you encounter a delay or cancellation from your airline, check out your options and see what the airline can do for you, including putting you on another carrier.

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