Props for Delta's IRROPS vs. United's Implosion

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by jparker, Jan 31, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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    I feel a little like I've become an unabashed cheerleader for Delta. Not my intent but copied below my blog post from today about the difference in experience I had with United a few weeks ago during IRROPS versus my experience with Delta today. It is a stark difference..

    I'm sure others have had a different experience.

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    A few weeks ago, I talked briefly about the implosion that occurred with United Airlines when the “polar vortex” hit Chicago and the Midwest and what they did wrong or, at least, didn’t do right. This week, Delta’s hub in Atlanta and much of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic was hit with unusual winter weather that created significant Irregular Operations (IRROPS).

    There were several things that went wrong for United a few weeks ago. Of course, they cannot control the weather but they have operated out of Chicago for a long, long time and have signficant experience with cold weather and snow. Additionally, American Airlines, who also has a significant hub in Chicago, seemed to fare much better in regards to cancellations.

    The specific problems that went beyond the weather and actual flight cancellations were:

    • Lack of notice – I only learned about the cancellation of my flight upon going to United.com to check-in the night before. Of course, the sooner you know about the problem, the more options that are available for rebooking. I never received an email or call from United even though they had my info in the record. Had I not checked on-line, I could possibly have found out only a couple of hours before my original flight.
    • Inability to Reach United – Upon discovering the cancellation, I tried repeatedly to get in touch with United. I probably tried phoning them 20-25 times. In each case, after spending 10-15 minutes navigating phone trees and holding, I was disconnected with a message that either said “All agents are busy. Please call back.” or “We are experiencing technical difficulties. Goodbye.” In other words, one could not even get in the queue.
    • Website was Useless – While trying to reach them via phone, I also tried to use their website to book alternate flights. This function simply did not work. At all.
    • Email and Web Form Not Answered – Well, in fairness, they did respond – six days into my trip with a message that basically said, “We hope it worked out for you.”
    • United’s Twitter did Respond but No Help – I direct messaged United Twitter account before heading to bed and did get a response overnight. They offered to rebook me for the first two legs of my trip for five days later and told me that I needed to contact US Airways for the remaining legs (I was traveling on an award ticket issued by US Air). This response did not help and was inaccurate. Once the IRROPS begin, United owns the itinerary.
    Had it not been for the great work of a couple of local ticket agents, the two week international trip would have been completely scuttled.

    Now, let’s turn to Delta and their handling of IRROPS today. I was scheduled for an early flight out of PHX, connecting to DTW, and then into LEX. Upon rising, I discovered that my 7:05 a.m. departure was delayed until 10:30 a.m. and I would not make my connnection. While checking the web, I received an email and a phone call on my cell letting me know the same information. This was right at two hours before the originally scheduled departure.

    I went to Delta.com where the delay was noted and the proposed rebooking was already in my record for acceptance, if I was happy with it. The proposed rebooking was PHX-DTW-LGA-LEX and would get me in about six hours later than originally scheduled. The website allowed me to look for alternatives and showed a 6:00 a.m. departure through ATL that would get me in about 3 hours earlier than originally scheduled and that seats were still available.

    Since I was up a little early and staying by the airport, I figured I could make this earlier flight. I was not able to rebook the flight on the website – it gave me an error – but I called the Diamond Medallion line and, after 14 minutes of hold time, was able to book the flight. In addition, the phone agent called over to Operations to have an aisle seat unblocked for me and got me an aisle since it was close to a fully booked flight.

    A hotel shuttle ride to the airport, printing of the new boarding passes at a kiosk, a quick trip through the TSA PreCheck line with my shoes on and liquids in my bag, and I was at the gate. Then, I just got lucky and scored a first class upgrade when someone did not check-in for their confirmed seat.

    All the things that United got wrong, Delta got right. In fairness, I have the highest elite status with Delta and my experience might not reflect what others without status might have experienced. But, the key issue is that the systemsworked – the automated emails and phone calls, the rebooked flights available for review on the website, and the ability to connect with a phone agent.

    Will I give United another shot in the future? I’m sure that will happen based on schedules, routes, or price at some point in the future, but the real question is why would I not fly Delta? I don’t get paid by Delta. I don’t get promotional credit from Delta. Delta sometimes frustrates me or screws things up. But, credit needs to be given where credit is due.
     
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  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    UA was canceling flights and informing passengers up to two days in advance. Delta informed you at 2 hours prior to your flight when you went to check in, same as UA did. How is Delta better in this case?

    And, yes, having top tier status makes a huge difference in what is available. I got through to UA as a 1K to rebook my father-in-law multiple times with minimal wait and incredibly cooperative agents. The other stuff like precheck has nothing to do with DL or UA really.

    So, what exactly did DL do better, other than what your status got you?? :confused:
     
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  3. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing something good. (Pay no attention to the man in the overhead bin)
     
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  4. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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    Seth, your blog is one of my favorites and you obviously have a lot more experience with United in both good times and bad times than I do. What Delta did differnetly is just what I tried to outline.

    1. They notified me both via email and phone call. I never got notice from United of my cancel. Perhaps I was an anomoly but do not know what I might have done or have failed to do that would have made my experience different. The notication protocol with Delta is systemic and does not rely on status. My traveling colleagues, who have no status, received the same notifications as I did. I suspect the two hour time frame was simply because that is when the delay occurred. I have, on other occasions, received notifications a day before the flight.

    2. The complete inability to get hold of United during the IRROPS was the biggest failure, in my opinion. Granted, I doubt my colleagues could have gotten through in the same time that I did, but I have never heard of Delta flyers not even being allowed to get into the queue on the phone system. Long wait times? Sure. No contact at all? Haven't heard that. Maybe some of the others on the forum can weigh in if they have had that occur.

    You are correct about PreCheck and the smooth sailing at the airport today. That really doesn't accrue to Delta. My colleagues without status - all six of them - were rebooked by Delta on American and will arrive only 4 hours late tonight. Delta didn't have to do that.

    One other comment that I made a couple of weeks ago when I was blogging about my trip, my experience with the flight attendants and gate agents at United was great. I've read many of a forum and blog post about "surly" or unfriendly United agents, but I did not run across that at all. My complaint with United during IRROPS was really more about systems and support.
     
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  5. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Delta canceled my flight scheduled for this morning, with basically no notice. I got a notification from Google Now that the flight status had changed, and when I looked at the Delta app and website I noticed that the status had changed as well to canceled. This was around 8pm for this morning's 8am flight. I did not get the notification from the "Delta Messenger" until 2:30am.

    There was no response on twitter from @Delta or @DeltaAssist whatsoever, and the wait time on the phone was "more than 4 hours" -- I used the callback method and they called me back 9 hours later (no lie) only to tell me I had no options other than to take a flight tonight (which I refused).
     
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  6. jparker

    jparker Silver Member

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    Obviously, you had a very different experience that I did. Thanks for sharing. What kind of status do you have? I'm curious if that is the key difference on the phone wait time. Also, did Delta.com show you a rebook proposal for you to accept or reject when you checked it?
     
  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    There are some issues with UA's systems, to be certain. But they aren't really all that much different from the others'.
    Yes, it is.

    The call-back queue thing that AA has is nice, but I was still 2+ hours in the queue a few times during the first week of January. UA typically picked up my call in <5 minutes.

    I think that what you've identified here is that status matters in IRROPs. A lot. And I couldn't agree more. I just don't think that DL is all that much better than AA or UA once you get past that factor.
     
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  8. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Some thoughts on this topic as a United 1K and relatively new DL PM...

    Both carriers have been really accommodating in terms of IRROPS protection/accommodation. I've never, as a long-time 1K or as a recent DL PM, been refused reasonable or even somewhat unreasonable re-accomodation in case of IRROPS (note, my UA experience doesn't include any flights so far this year. So if someone tells me things have changed, I can't refute that).

    DL seems to have automated much more of their IRROPS process (note, I haven't had UA IRROPS since the new app deployment so they may have matched or beaten DL). In general I've been able to change flights/routing/even move to the next day with a few clicks on my phone during the recent weather events. UA I would have had to call. That's a small thing, but there are times when I'll encounter IRROPS and not be in a place to call, so it's helpful.

    DL seems to be much more aggressive about notification. I usually found out from UA that my flight was impacted, but DL will call and e-mail and have a pop-up notification on my phone all at the same time. I'm not going to miss that kind of blitz.

    UA was better at completing the full IRROPS transaction (perhaps because I was talking to a real person). When doing changes with the app or website on DL, my ticket has wound up out of sync every time and required human intervention to complete check-in. A small thing, perhaps, but a bit annoying especially if I'm trying to adapt quickly when making changes.
     
  9. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    I didn't fly on DL during recent vortex times. I did however fly 25k BIS on UA and partners during that time. I was fortunate not to be severely impacted, esp. at BOS and EWR in the first week of Jan. I did have a pending irop on UA, but I called it in the previous day, was rebooked onto a more direct and convenient ex-EWR schedule. An artifact that I did appreciate was the hike in booking class to a GPU-able one...I immediately applied my GPU online, within seconds of the transaction, and was waitlisted. Next day, gate UG into BF @ EWR..... so the irop worked in my favor big time. This is of course not possible with DL's mejor en su clase implementation - look at the number of threads on DL with the reverse situation, i.e. irops causing A - or worse, paid F - booked pax to be cast into the back of the next RJ. Also, DL SWU's are utterly notorious for failing to deliver published benefit, as a result of DL IT and booking system shenanigans that they simply don't want to fix or improve.

    Let me reiterate that. I literally applied three clicks on UA.COM to the reissued UA itin and flew in BF, at a more convenient time and a better routing to final. No shena. No hassle. No add'l collect. Now while I agree that UA has its CS issues, and there were plenty of vortexed pax affected worse than I - including numerous folks at the EWR PC the afternoon I was there waiting on my BF WL to clear - this particular event handling and outcome is hard to beat for any airline. Even DL's tame apologists and media scrubbers don't receive better than that from Jeff Robbo.
     
  10. DiverDave
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    DiverDave Gold Member

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    Actually, I don't see many complaints about issues using SWUs per published terms. There is the occasional complaint about incorrect coding of the SWU, but those are not frequent. Those are greatly outweighed by the complaints about the fare class restrictions, but those are published.

    I am not clear, was the itinerary reissued over the phone or at united.com? I am betting it was the former.

    Also, the UA board is full of complaints about united.com in general. Perhaps you are reliving an old memory, as of course you did not wait at the EWR PC as those are gone with the wind along with the tulip. :cool:

    David
     
  11. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    DL mobile app works pretty well for irrops domestically for me. But you have to act quickly as it democratizes the process whereas GA queues and phone wait times give elites an adv. and we get better options if we ask. Mobile self service doesn't bend the rules.
     
  12. USAF_Pride
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    USAF_Pride Gold Member

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    Also, when IROP happens, your electronic boarding pass flushes. Passbook or screenshot all boarding passes!!
     
  13. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Haha! Classic DL scrubbing...of anything and everything on electronic media.

    They can't scrub this, however.... I calll it.... mejor en su clase! Muahaha!
     
  14. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Call-back time for me from DL yesterday was 14 hours. Booked in paid F (mistake fare) but no status.

    Fortunately I used the Singapore call center to fix the problem well before that point hit.
     
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  15. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    And once again Delta lets me know that I should stop messing around and not fly with them anymore... seriously what's up with this?

    I have an SJC-LAX-JFK flight in a few weeks, and the Concur guys told my friend that the SJC-LAX leg was gone, so he could choose an alternative. I'm on the same flight, and I see the notice on the site that says "there was a change" on the flights, and not much else. No email, text, nothing.
     

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