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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beware the Robots at Delta Airlines

So after a month at camp, my 12-year-old son is scheduled to return home tonight on Delta Airlines, flying out of JFK Airport in New York. Turns out the flight is cancelled, presumably due to poor weather. I certainly don't want him flying if the weather is a problem. But right now, he's at the airport with no flight to take.

But does Delta exhibit even an ounce of concern about a 12-year-old whose flight is cancelled? He's classified as an "unaccompanied minor" since he was brought to the airport by camp staff rather than my wife and myself. Our experience, after many frantic phone calls, is that Delta employs robots. All we're told, over and over again, is "we can't put him on another airline if the problem is due to weather." It feels very much as if the Delta staff, including supervisors, all read from prepared scripts and don't bother using their brains. Another flight on another airline is still scheduled for departure 90 minutes after my son's original flight. So is it a weather problem or not?

They did put him on another flight for tomorrow, but with no provision for how he'll be cared for this evening. We'll find someone to make sure he's safe and sound tonight, and find some way to get him back to the airport, but with absolutely no help from Delta. American Airlines said they would be happy to take my son on their flight this evening, but Delta is not cooperating in this transfer in the least. So if we want him on the American Airlines flight, it's over $800 out of our pocket.

Perhaps there is a reason my son should not be taking either his original flight or the American Airlines flight, but we will certainly avoid Delta Airlines any time we can. The absolute best in our experience? Southwest Airlines, without a doubt. They are the easiest airline to work with, by far.

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