12/17 Atlanta airport debacle - refund/compensation

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Dec 18, 2017
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#1
I was one of the many thousands of people affected by the ATL power outage yesterday and am hoping someone can offer some advice on how to get compensated.

My 12/17 trip on Delta from a smallish airport to ATL to DCA couldn't happen because of the power outage; my husband and I were told by a Delta agent at the gate that we could get transferred to a United flight; hours passed, and my husband went to the ticket counter, where the line was frozen; a United agent told my husband there were seats on a flight to ORD and seats on a flight from there to DCA; two Delta ticket agents told my husband those flights were full and refused to attempt to book us on those flights; I waited in line upstairs at our gate for 2 hours; 20 minutes before that United flight, my husband bought us new tickets from United and we had to board (a not-full plane) before I got to the front of my line to talk to a Delta agent; we flew home last night on 2 planes with available seats; Delta automatically rebooked us for a flight this morning. After a phone call today, we are hopeful we will (eventually) be refunded for our Delta return flight but someone should have just put us on United. Currently, we are out a lot of money for that last-minute purchase.

We completely understand it was a difficult situation but also recognize there were some major customer service shortcomings. Any advice on being compensated for the United ticket purchase? Or, at least, ensuring the refund comes through?

Thanks very much,
GG
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#2
@DC-travel-gal Some quick thoughts...
1. DL cancelled your flight so by DOT rules, they owe a refund for the flight. Be prepared for it to just be a portion of what you paid.
2. What happened really was outside DLs control. It effected the entire airport and, unlike weather, couldn't be reasonably anticipated or staffed. Be mad at ATL.
3. You chose to purchase the ticket instead of waiting for DL to interline you. You paid far in excess of what they would have paid. Its unlikely that they will refund you.

Having said all of that, start by writing the contacts on the contact page. Remember that they are getting flooded by angry letters with unreasonable demands right now. You want to be the calm, reasonable one in the storm. While I would ask for the refund (include a receipt), I would also tell them that you'd be willing to accept a DL credit for a future flight or miles for the amount of money (far more likely to occur). Keep your tone light and remember that the people reading on the other end are getting "yelled at" through email all day long. You want to be the exception that makes them want to help you.

Final note.. we normally recommend a week between letters as you work up the contact chain. Simply due to volume, I give the first note two weeks before moving on.

Good Luck
 
Dec 7, 2017
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#3
how do you prove you asked the Delta agent to put you on the United flight?

how do you prove that DL has an appropriate interline agreement with UA that would have covered your class of fare?

I would make a demand on DL refund your tickets - and todo so nicely, expecting the best you'll get is a refund of your fare and tax paid, and credit in vouchers for the rest. And thats the BEST - the worst is nothing except the refund on the DL ticket and taxes.

But first:
do you have a return flight on Delta? Make sure you call them so you are not marked no show and canceled. That would be bad. I know I know - but don't let that happen.

Then - compose a very night letter to DL explaining SIMPLY what happened - you don't need to say anything other than:

"Our flights were affected by the power outage in ATL on 17 Dec.

We were told by a DL ticket agent at the airport in xxx that s/he could re-route us interline on UA on the UA flight leaving a couple of hours later. This never happened. The DL agent at the airport was unable to access their computer to accomplish this.

We understand that DL had an extraordinary circumstance, but there was power at your reservations center and at the airport in XXX. We should have been interlined. We request a refund of our DL ticket for the XXX-ATL-DCA segment, and taxes, in the amount of $XXX.

We also request compensation in the amount of $xxxx for the United segment which DL agents had already commited to placing us on and were unable to do so. Thank you. "
 
Last edited:
Likes: DC-travel-gal
Dec 7, 2017
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#4
[this is my speculation - but it seems logicial]

I'm pretty sure that DL decided to not interline anyone except elites. The cost of doing so likely would have resulted in a significant financial hit this quarter - and they decided it would cost less to simply refund half of most tickets - this way they could save the value of the other half and likely just agree to give people vouchers for the balance of the ticket.

If this were me - I'd be going after this information - because if Delta did make this decision to take away the interline rights of the passengers by removing the ability of the gate agents to reaccommodate- that's a significant change of contract rights made unilaterally by DL. I'm sure that many many lawyers would interested in those facts - as would customer advocates both in government and out. DL may not like the consequences of their decision if I am in fact correct in my assumption here. Lawyers are out there waiting to pounce.

The other point here - the customer service plan requires the airlines to have disaster recovery plans - not just weather. A power outage at an airport is a logical possibility. Consider for a moment that there was a single point of failure for both primary and back up power- AND the generator system. That's pretty stupid - I simply cannot imagine that such is a best practice in the power industry.

Then you have possible claims against GPL. Having the primary and backup and generator all co-located in the same spot where a fire can cause them all to go out - that's incredibly stupid from a planning perspective. . . . GPL no doubt has significant liability for failing to have automatic fire suppression systems in this key vault . . . .
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
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#5
The other point here - the customer service plan requires the airlines to have disaster recovery plans - not just weather. A power outage at an airport is a logical possibility. Consider for a moment that there was a single point of failure for both primary and back up power- AND the generator system. That's pretty stupid - I simply cannot imagine that such is a best practice in the power industry.
I'm not trying to argue, but the fire affected the worst possible area - the link between the back up and regular system. You've got to have some way to link the back up to the main grid and unfortunately that's what got affected. The only way around that is a second backup. Arguably, an airport that size should at least have 12 hour battery banks as a secondary backup but with each redundancy comes a cost. I've worked in defense my entire career and we do have stuff like that for critical facilities but it's not cheap and there are only a handful of buildings, tops, at any given installation who have that capability. The cost to run an airport the size of Atlanta would be huge, but mission critical items such as the tower and airfield lights should have backup generators.

Fun fact - airfield lights are run on two separte circiuts. That way if one vault or system goes down you still have 1/2 the lights operational.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#7
The entire airport was affected not just Delta. I’m not sure why an agent would have said to fly United becaus nothing could take off.
They were flying XYZ-ATL-DCA. The DL agent who told them they could be interlined was at XYZ. Presumably, it would have been XYZ-ORD/EWR/DEN-DCA on UA.
 
Likes: DC-travel-gal
Dec 18, 2017
5
4
3
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#8
@DC-travel-gal Some quick thoughts...
1. DL cancelled your flight so by DOT rules, they owe a refund for the flight. Be prepared for it to just be a portion of what you paid.
2. What happened really was outside DLs control. It effected the entire airport and, unlike weather, couldn't be reasonably anticipated or staffed. Be mad at ATL.
3. You chose to purchase the ticket instead of waiting for DL to interline you. You paid far in excess of what they would have paid. Its unlikely that they will refund you.

Having said all of that, start by writing the contacts on the contact page. Remember that they are getting flooded by angry letters with unreasonable demands right now. You want to be the calm, reasonable one in the storm. While I would ask for the refund (include a receipt), I would also tell them that you'd be willing to accept a DL credit for a future flight or miles for the amount of money (far more likely to occur). Keep your tone light and remember that the people reading on the other end are getting "yelled at" through email all day long. You want to be the exception that makes them want to help you.

Final note.. we normally recommend a week between letters as you work up the contact chain. Simply due to volume, I give the first note two weeks before moving on.

Good Luck
Thank you so much for this suggestion! It makes sense to me. I appreciate it!
 
Likes: Paul W
Dec 18, 2017
5
4
3
41
#9
how do you prove you asked the Delta agent to put you on the United flight?

how do you prove that DL has an appropriate interline agreement with UA that would have covered your class of fare?

I would make a demand on DL refund your tickets - and todo so nicely, expecting the best you'll get is a refund of your fare and tax paid, and credit in vouchers for the rest. And thats the BEST - the worst is nothing except the refund on the DL ticket and taxes.

But first:
do you have a return flight on Delta? Make sure you call them so you are not marked no show and canceled. That would be bad. I know I know - but don't let that happen.

Then - compose a very night letter to DL explaining SIMPLY what happened - you don't need to say anything other than:

"Our flights were affected by the power outage in ATL on 17 Dec.

We were told by a DL ticket agent at the airport in xxx that s/he could re-route us interline on UA on the UA flight leaving a couple of hours later. This never happened. The DL agent at the airport was unable to access their computer to accomplish this.

We understand that DL had an extraordinary circumstance, but there was power at your reservations center and at the airport in XXX. We should have been interlined. We request a refund of our DL ticket for the XXX-ATL-DCA segment, and taxes, in the amount of $XXX.

We also request compensation in the amount of $xxxx for the United segment which DL agents had already commited to placing us on and were unable to do so. Thank you. "
Thank you so much for this suggestion! I really I appreciate the draft message. Luckily, this was our return trip (and we happened to fly with another airline on the way out), so it *should* be easy for Delta to see the refund would be 100%. Thanks again for your quick response.
 
Dec 18, 2017
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#10
They were flying XYZ-ATL-DCA. The DL agent who told them they could be interlined was at XYZ. Presumably, it would have been XYZ-ORD/EWR/DEN-DCA on UA.
Exactly. I saw some gate agents handing tickets to rerouted passengers. I know there is not an agreement with American but thought there was one with United. Hopefully, the mystery will be solved and we'll be compensated/refunded!
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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#13
If I were Delta I would be referring all requests for compensation to the airport or to the power company and it's certainly not unreasonable for you to ask whoever was responsible for the outage for some compensation, in my opinion. I just don't think it's Delta's fault.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,686
11,277
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
If I were Delta I would be referring all requests for compensation to the airport or to the power company and it's certainly not unreasonable for you to ask whoever was responsible for the outage for some compensation, in my opinion. I just don't think it's Delta's fault.
I agree and I don't think there has been enough time for any of the airlines to figure out how they are going to compensate anyone yet.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
10,686
11,277
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
This is on Deltas website:
ATLANTA POWER OUTAGE
Important Announcements Regarding Travel To/From/Through Atlanta
  • Unaccompanied Minors
    Delta has temporarily embargoed travel for unaccompanied minors traveling to, from or through Atlanta Monday due to the power outage. Unaccompanied minors who already began their travel Sunday may continue.
  • Baggage Information
    Delta has established a dedicated line to assist customers with checked luggage that was impacted by the disruption. Customers (including Air France-KLM customers) should call 888-977-1005 to arrange for baggage delivery. Due to congestion, customers are encouraged to call the dedicated line for assistance rather than going to an airport baggage service office.
  • See below for rebooking information.


Due to a power outage at the Atlanta airport, travel to/from/through the cities below may be impacted. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute info about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your mobile device or by email with One-Time Flight Notification.

Rescheduling Flights
If you wish to cancel your trip as a result of a flight cancellation or significant delay (90 minutes or more), you are entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your ticket. Even if your flight is not canceled, you may make a one-time change to your ticket without fee if you are scheduled to travel to, from, or through the following destination(s) on Delta, Delta Connection®, or Delta-coded flights during the specified time periods listed below.

You can now edit your itinerary on delta.com. Additional collection in fares may apply. See Conditions & Restrictions below.








Affected Cities (To / From / Through)



Impacted Travel Date(s)


Ticket must be Reissued On or Before


Rebooked Travel must begin no later than

Atlanta, GA (ATL)

December 17-19, 2017

December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

When rescheduled travel occurs beyond December 22, 2017, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue. If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity.

Conditions & Restrictions
Changes to origins and destinations may result in an increase in fare. Any difference in fare between your original ticket and the new ticket will be collected at the time of booking.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
I have a question re:interlining -- does the ticket have to be endorsed over to another carrier with the same fare basis code within the class? For instance on a W economy fare in Delta, would the ticket only be endorsed to a United flight with an available W fare?
 
Dec 7, 2017
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#18
I have a question re:interlining -- does the ticket have to be endorsed over to another carrier with the same fare basis code within the class? For instance on a W economy fare in Delta, would the ticket only be endorsed to a United flight with an available W fare?
Interlines work as such [as told to me by a TWA station chief in 1996]

The clearing house nets the interlines quarterly [this was 1996, can prob do it daily now] by mileage and class of service. Then there is a fixed price per mile that get paid to the 'net airline' after the true up.

Most interline agreements fall apart when airlines want to be trued up in dollars instead of miles - thus the $$$ causes the true up to be offset in favor of one company which results in cancellation of the agreement.

Interlines were intended to be a no cost safety valve - back in the day when everyone had spare capacity, it made sense to be able to use a competitors spare capacity to cover your mechanical, oversale or other problems - now - obviously, at 90% load factors there is no spare capacity. So the agreements domestically provide little help most times when there is a major issue like a power outage at a hub.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
773
747
93
#20
Likes: Just A Guy