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March 20, 2007

DELTA AND ME: Okay, my various cryptic references to Delta have people wanting the whole story. It is, sadly, typical.

I left Knoxville headed for Grand Cayman on Sunday morning a week ago. I was connecting in Atlanta to a flight scheduled to depart at 10:20 a.m. Just before boarding, the counter folks announced that the flight was overbooked (by 22 seats!) and started bumping people. I was one of them. There were no other available flights, and I wound up spending the night in Atlanta and taking the next day's flight at 10:20 a.m. That cost me a full day of time in Grand Cayman. Delta gave me $400 and three meal vouchers for $7 each. I did not feel adequately compensated for losing, effectively, one fourth of my stay.

Well, airlines overbook, and people get bumped. But this degree of overbooking on a flight at the crowded spring break season seems way excessive to me. And worst of all was the attitude of the Delta employees at the counter that morning. They gave the impression of actually enjoying the process of delivering the bad news -- including the supervisor whom I asked to speak with. I've been flying Delta since I was three years old, and my experiences with them have generally been good, but this experience makes me understand why they're doing so badly, and not care very much what happens to them. Airlines have a lot of problems to deal with that make flights late sometimes, like this past weekend's blizzards, and I have considerable sympathy with them when those come up. But after this I don't trust Delta to do its best, and I think it's important to trust people you're hiring to get you somewhere on time and in one piece.

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