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Jun 18, 2017
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#1
This past April, 2017 my husband and I purchased @ $7,000 business class tickets from BWI-JFK-Charles DeGaulle-Amsterdam-Charles DeGaulle-Tel Aviv-Charles DeGaule-JFK-BWI. We are very frequent travelers, both together and separately, but generally opt for much lower fares. I have serious mobility issues and travel with a combination rollator/transport chair. My husband is a long-time dedicated Delta Silver Medallion member who has never before experienced such resoundingly and consistently horrible service from Delta, Air France and KLM, Delta's new partners. We purchased these high priced seats to insure my safety since this time I was still recuperating from extensive bone surgery. We had no doubt that the service we would receive would be of the highest caliber as all of our previous much less expensive trips had been, especially with Delat and KLM.
Instead, this trip became threatening and very dangerous for me. At every airport (BWI, JFK, Charles DeGaulle, Tel Aviv) both outbound and returning, wheelchair service was terribly delayed or totally absent. Our trip from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv was cancelled. Our preordered special meals were nowhere to be found....despite my husband's almost compulsive prechecking of our reservations both by phone and online for weeks before our departure. Once we were compelled to stay seated on the plane for more than 45 minutes because the flight attendent refused to leave us unattended onboard but she had no way to call for assistence. Eventually she allowed us to use my personal walker to get as far as the gate but insisted we stop there. The Captain saw us as he was deplaning and nearly an hour later, took us with him to the KLM lounge by jitney.
The main handicapped assistance personnel at Charles DeGaulle were unspeakably rude to the first wheelchair helper and my husband, who left to retrieve a suitcase checked at the left-luggage store. We arranged to meet at the gate. I waited there close to an hour ( with many other dejected looked travelers requiring assistance) having been told to "Sit down and Wait!" At the point where I feared missing my flight altogether, I started out hobbling on my own. Only after I passed through security, did the wheelchair arrive. When the assistant scanned my ticket and saw the medical equipment and medications I was carrying, she flatly refused to take me to the gate stating "Let her husband do it!". I was forced to hobble to the gate against doctor's orders...or miss the flight altogether.
Luckily boarding was delayed. But then my husband and I were denied access to the upper boarding ramp of our double-decker plane! Ease of boarding was the rationale for buying such expensive tickets! The boarding staff refused to open the upper walkway and told me and another handicapped passenger we would just have to pull ourselves up the interior steps to our business seats. In retrospect I should have created a sit-down strike and simply refused but by then I was completely worn out and just wanted to get to my seat. To add insult to injury our special diet meals were not provided ( nor did we get meals from Tel Aviv to Paris) so we had no food for 14 hours. The flight attendendent had reassured us that we had meals...but her superior contremanded that and lied to us stating that we had never ordered such meals. Interestingly, when one meal was "found" it was already marked with my husband's seat number.
My foot and leg swelled up to elephantine proportions each time I was denied wheelchair service. Being forced to keep my leg elevated and iced for days after each segment of the trip meant I was unable to participate in the travel, activities and romance we had purchased with $7000.00.
In addition, on the final leg of our journey, our suitcase arrived at BWI with the exterior zipper compartment open and empty of contents and my personal walker damaged between JFK-BWI. We reported this immediately and were promised immediate service and reimbursement. In spite of repeated phone calls and submitting detailed written reports on all of the above, no action has been taken.
My husband is a seasoned traveler and has been quite successful in negotiating the occasional travel hiccup with Delta. But not this time! We asked for a refund on our very expensive flight in the form of Delta gift cards.
Multiple emails from different Delta offices have promised to "resolve the issues within 30 days". Far more than 30 days have passed since we submitted our written complaints. Delta is playing "divide and conquor" with this multifaceted disaster. No one takes responsibility for our serious complaint. One department offered a few extra Skymiles. My Skymiles account was credited with $150.00 ostensibily to make up for no food, but nothing to my husband for the lack of kosher meals. We are hitting a brick wall!!!! I tried to Tweet the Delta Exectives but got redirected back to their main website.

Help!
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
This past April, 2017 my husband and I purchased @ $7,000 business class tickets from BWI-JFK-Charles DeGaulle-Amsterdam-Charles DeGaulle-Tel Aviv-Charles DeGaule-JFK-BWI. We are very frequent travelers, both together and separately, but generally opt for much lower fares. I have serious mobility issues and travel with a combination rollator/transport chair. My husband is a long-time dedicated Delta Silver Medallion member who has never before experienced such resoundingly and consistently horrible service from Delta, Air France and KLM, Delta's new partners. We purchased these high priced seats to insure my safety since this time I was still recuperating from extensive bone surgery. We had no doubt that the service we would receive would be of the highest caliber as all of our previous much less expensive trips had been, especially with Delat and KLM.
Instead, this trip became threatening and very dangerous for me. At every airport (BWI, JFK, Charles DeGaulle, Tel Aviv) both outbound and returning, wheelchair service was terribly delayed or totally absent. Our trip from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv was cancelled. Our preordered special meals were nowhere to be found....despite my husband's almost compulsive prechecking of our reservations both by phone and online for weeks before our departure. Once we were compelled to stay seated on the plane for more than 45 minutes because the flight attendent refused to leave us unattended onboard but she had no way to call for assistence. Eventually she allowed us to use my personal walker to get as far as the gate but insisted we stop there. The Captain saw us as he was deplaning and nearly an hour later, took us with him to the KLM lounge by jitney.
The main handicapped assistance personnel at Charles DeGaulle were unspeakably rude to the first wheelchair helper and my husband, who left to retrieve a suitcase checked at the left-luggage store. We arranged to meet at the gate. I waited there close to an hour ( with many other dejected looked travelers requiring assistance) having been told to "Sit down and Wait!" At the point where I feared missing my flight altogether, I started out hobbling on my own. Only after I passed through security, did the wheelchair arrive. When the assistant scanned my ticket and saw the medical equipment and medications I was carrying, she flatly refused to take me to the gate stating "Let her husband do it!". I was forced to hobble to the gate against doctor's orders...or miss the flight altogether.
Luckily boarding was delayed. But then my husband and I were denied access to the upper boarding ramp of our double-decker plane! Ease of boarding was the rationale for buying such expensive tickets! The boarding staff refused to open the upper walkway and told me and another handicapped passenger we would just have to pull ourselves up the interior steps to our business seats. In retrospect I should have created a sit-down strike and simply refused but by then I was completely worn out and just wanted to get to my seat. To add insult to injury our special diet meals were not provided ( nor did we get meals from Tel Aviv to Paris) so we had no food for 14 hours. The flight attendendent had reassured us that we had meals...but her superior contremanded that and lied to us stating that we had never ordered such meals. Interestingly, when one meal was "found" it was already marked with my husband's seat number.
My foot and leg swelled up to elephantine proportions each time I was denied wheelchair service. Being forced to keep my leg elevated and iced for days after each segment of the trip meant I was unable to participate in the travel, activities and romance we had purchased with $7000.00.
In addition, on the final leg of our journey, our suitcase arrived at BWI with the exterior zipper compartment open and empty of contents and my personal walker damaged between JFK-BWI. We reported this immediately and were promised immediate service and reimbursement. In spite of repeated phone calls and submitting detailed written reports on all of the above, no action has been taken.
My husband is a seasoned traveler and has been quite successful in negotiating the occasional travel hiccup with Delta. But not this time! We asked for a refund on our very expensive flight in the form of Delta gift cards.
Multiple emails from different Delta offices have promised to "resolve the issues within 30 days". Far more than 30 days have passed since we submitted our written complaints. Delta is playing "divide and conquor" with this multifaceted disaster. No one takes responsibility for our serious complaint. One department offered a few extra Skymiles. My Skymiles account was credited with $150.00 ostensibily to make up for no food, but nothing to my husband for the lack of kosher meals. We are hitting a brick wall!!!! I tried to Tweet the Delta Exectives but got redirected back to their main website.

Help!
Thank you for reaching out to us. If you could pare this down somewhat to just the highlights.
 
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Likes: Neil Maley
Feb 9, 2016
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#3
With the medical conditions you were suffering from while flying, I am genuinely surprised you decided to take on such a rigorous itinerary. Bravo.

One suggestion, your correspondence with Delta should be pleasant but direct. You have an incredibly long list of grievances. State the facts that occurred on each flight, and that is it.

For the whole debacle, have you decided what proper compensation would be and asked for it? A lot of times it is difficult for the company to know what would appease you, so hey make small offers that feel insulting to you. Ask for exactly what you want as a resolution.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
Examining your post, the relevant facts you have stated appear to be:
  • In April of 2017 we purchased business class tickets from BWI-JFK-Charles DeGaulle-Amsterdam-Charles DeGaulle-Tel Aviv-Charles DeGaulle-JFK-BWI in the amount of $7,000
  • I am recovering from extensive bone surgery, which was impacted by significant delays and total absence of wheelchair service at every airport. One delay was almost 2 hours, and for another I the wheelchair arrived only after I had "hobbled" through security to catch my flight. Each time I experienced severe swelling in my legs.
  • I was thus forced to keep my leg elevated and iced for days after each segment of the trip and was unable to participate in our scheduled activities.
  • Our trip from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv was cancelled (you did not make this portion of the trip?)
  • We were denied access to the upper boarding ramp at Charles DeGaulle (you do not say for which flight)
  • Our pre-ordered special meals were not provided at Tel-Aviv, and thus left us without food for a total of 14 hours
  • Our suitcase arrived at BWI with the exterior zipper compartment open and empty of contents and my personal walker was also damaged
  • More than 30 days have passed since we submitted our written complaints
Given the extent of your issues, and the contacts you have made on Twitter I suggest you appeal your case by using the Company Contacts link near the top of this page.
I recommend you start with the Primary Contact link.
....
- Present only the relevant facts in writing (so you have a record)
- Be polite and professional even if and especially when you feel you have been mistreated
- Always close by thanking them for their time and consideration
....
Wait 2 weeks for a reply before moving on to the higher level contacts.
....
Please keep us posted on your progress ...
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#5
I would like to add one suggestion to @sas80's post: be reasonable with your expectation for compensation. Some of the issues are the responsibility of the airline and some are not such as wheelchair assistance. That is usually handled by the airport. In the end, the airlines did get you to and from your destination, albeit uncomfortably! Full compensation is an unreasonable expectation in my book and most likely will be to the airline execs.
 
Likes: ADM and jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#8
For clarification see:


Under Delta Wheelchair Services

Delta has wheelchairs available for use at airport locations; request this service when making reservations. Upon arrival at the airport, simply notify a Delta representative that you require a wheelchair for transportation to the departure gate.​
Alas, the wheelchair procedure doesn't work very well. The only time we've needed one was at CDG, it was pre-ordered but took 45 minutes to arrive to transport my husband into the terminal. Thankfully, we were treated very well from then on.

Rebecca, we really need to see a list of the facts so we can help you sort this out. It's important to separate the small things like no special meal from the big things like being able to board the plane gracefully. Looks like VoR has made one for you ... please review and change/correct it so we know exactly what happened.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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#9
I'm not going to add to the answers above which are very helpful. I know how awful it is when kosher meals don't show up when you know you've ordered them. One point, as a fellow Jew that does this trip (from BWI to TLV) with Delta from time to time, would be to try to use Delta the whole way if you do this trip again. I did a few months ago and was very impressed with the service. There are non stop flights from JFK to TLV with Delta without having to use Air France or make connections.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
I'm not going to add to the answers above which are very helpful. I know how awful it is when kosher meals don't show up when you know you've ordered them. One point, as a fellow Jew that does this trip (from BWI to TLV) with Delta from time to time, would be to try to use Delta the whole way if you do this trip again. I did a few months ago and was very impressed with the service. There are non stop flights from JFK to TLV with Delta without having to use Air France or make connections.
The fewer stops the better, but it appears that the OP had a stop in Amsterdam, maybe in Paris also, a concise chronology would help on the days. Otherwise I am perplexed as to why there would be so many transfers, as that gives the airlines more opportunity to mess up and is so much more tiring.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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#11
The fewer stops the better, but it appears that the OP had a stop in Amsterdam, maybe in Paris also, a concise chronology would help on the days. Otherwise I am perplexed as to why there would be so many transfers, as that gives the airlines more opportunity to mess up and is so much more tiring.
My point this that usually it doesn't cost any less to go directly with Delta from JFK to TLV. I am puzzled why they took a connecting flight.
 
Likes: joycexyz
Jun 18, 2017
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#12
Thank you everyone for the thoughtful input. The suggested bullet point summary was most helpful in framing the response I sent out last night to the Primary Delta contact, VP C. Evans on the Elliot's contact list. Probably my email is still too verbose, but your suggestions helped me pare it down. Next task will be to send Tweets to the rest of the Execs. I will take out our personal info and post my responses here.

Feedback on the other comments:
YES YES YES...we most certainly did request wheelchair assistance...and kosher meals... when we made our initial reservations, again each of 3 times we checked in during the months before our flight, when we arrived at the airports, when we boarded and even on-board the airplanes to remind the flight attendants of our need for help. Being a disabled traveler I am an old hand at this. Never before have we had such a total breakdown of service and accomodation.

I believe that Delta has complete responsibility for putting my health at risk through the total breakdown of transportation we contracted for when we purchased our tickets. This was no minor glitch with a lackadasical wheelchair pusher.

`Not receiving a meal in very expensive Business Class seats for 14 hours is a major problem when one is diabetic. Since we also have a religious obligation to keep kosher, accepting substitute meals is not an option. Instead of our kosher meals, we were served scallop appetizers which was tantamount to telling a Vegan, Hindu or Muslim passenger to stop complaining and just "Eat the Pork Chop already!" The same would be true no matter what we paid for our seats.

The suggestions to take more direct flights made sense, but on this trip we had to combine work with pleasure and were not able to simply purchase a direct flight to Tel Aviv. But thanks for the ideas.
 
Jun 18, 2017
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#13
Pepkowitz letter to Ms. Clarrise Evans VP Customer Service, Delta Airlines
Dear Ms.Evans,
I am writing directly to you seeking assistance. Over the past month and a half we have followed every Delta reporting protocol requesting rectification and compensation for the "comedy of errors" we encountered on our Delta trip from April 5-19, 2017. But the truth is that there was absolutely nothing funny about what happened to us each leg of the journey. We reported each problem as it occurred to both in-flight and gate staff, filled out an on-board complaint form, submitted written narratives by email, filled out on-line complaint forms and made repeated followup phone calls to both Disability Services and general Customer Care seeking satisfaction. Delta's lack of appropriate response has been very surprising and most disappointing.
My husband, Gerry Gilstrop is a dedicated Silver Medallion Member Skymiles Account XXXXXXXX. My Skymiles account is XXXXXXXX. I have serious mobility impairments and always request Wheelchair Assistence when traveling independently or with my husband. With the exception of a few small glitches, this service has always been exceptional. But NOT during our most recent series of flights. In fact, the number of problems we encountered, lack of service, blatant disregard for the truth and lack of timely follow through was totally unlike the excellent service we have come to expect from Delta.
* In January, 2017, my husband purchased round trip Business Class tickets from BWI-JFK-Charles DeGaulle-Amsterdam-Charles DeGaulle-Tel Aviv for April 5-19 at a cost in excess of $7000.00, far more than we ordinarily spend for such a trip due to my medical condition.
* I was recovering from extensive bone surgery. It was imperative for me to be able to travel with my foot/leg elevated. My surgeon specified that I was not to walk but needed to use wheelchair transfers in every airport. I certainly did not anticipate this would be a problem, but in fact, we faced outrageous delays and/or total lack of wheelchair service at EVERY single Airport on our itinerary. We were even kept captive on board one flight and NOT allowed to disembark for nearly an hour. Then we were told to wait at the deserted boarding gate until help arrived. Deplaning staff walked right past us without offering to help. Only when the Captain deplaned did he move proactively to get us transport on a jitney. Nothing like this has never happened to us before on any of our travels.
*To make sure that I did not suffer from blot clots and the like, my husband bought extremely expensive tickets and made sure to schedule more than enough time between each flight to get me to the Lounges for showering, changing dressings and braces and resting with my foot elevated. His carefully laid plans were foiled by the consistent lack of wheelchair service and long delays at every single Airport. We ended up nearly missing every plane and having paid $7000.00 for tickets had to run to the gates and board the planes stressed and sweaty instead of relaxed and happy.
*Denied transport, I was forced to rush and hobble on my own through security and to far flung gates, especially in Charles deGaulle and Tel Aviv. The French Handicapped Service staff was extremely rude to my husband and me and I was ultimately denied service in Charles De Gaulle (both times) and in Tel Aviv. As a result, my foot and leg swelled up tremendously and in Amsterdam, Israel and back in the States I found myself incapacitated and had to spend days elevating and icing my foot. I was completely unable to participate in the romantic travel vacation my husband had so carefully planned and purchased.
* Our second flight from Charles DeGaulle to Amsterdam was cancelled and we were put on an El Al plane instead which caused us to miss our ground connections.
* On the return flight through Charles DeGaulle, another passenger with mobility impairments and I were refused access to the upper level skyway to get to our upper level Business Class seats. We were forced to pull ourselves up the interior stairs...only to later watch able-bodied passengers strolling onto the plane when the the upper-level skyway was opened after we were pre-boarded.
* My husband had double and triple checked our request for wheelchair service and kosher meals on-line and by telephone in the weeks before our flights. He also repeatedly confirmed our request for special meals. We are both diabetic and keep kosher so not having any food posed a huge danger to us. Because we were denied meals from Tel Aviv to Paris we checked with flight attendant once seated on the transatlantic flight. She reassured us and even showed us our meal requests on her tablet. Later when there we did not receive meals, her superior lied to our faces and stated that there we had no kosher meals on our 14 hour return flight because we "had failed to order them". When one 'extra' meal was somehow 'found' by this fellow, it was actually already marked with my husband's seat number....and we have photos of that.
* Our suitcase arrived at BWI with the exterior compartment zipper open and empty. My personal rollator/transport chair was severely damaged. All this happened on the return flight from JFK to BWI. The Disability desk assured me that my Rollator would be repaired or replaced, and we would be compensated for our lost possesions but this has never happened.
* Delta seems to be taking a "divide and conquor" approach to compensation. I received an email saying I was given a credit of $150.00 as compensation for being denied food on board. My husband was offered nothing. Both of us were credited with a small number of Skymiles....with no explanation why. We find this to be totally inadequate compensation. The supervisors we have spoken several times very politely asked us to allow them 30 days to make things right. We agreed to wait but now 30 days is long since past and nothing has been set right.
We have already submitted far more detailed narratives of this most difficult debacle to Delta. I am sending you just the bare bones, because I believe you will be able to access our whole record. But I will be glad to forward our more detailed narratives to you and supply any other information you should require. We request that you compensate us for the $7000.00 we spent in the form of Delta gift cards. We look forward to putting this experience behind us and being able to continue traveling with Delta. Please acknowlege receipt of this email.
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#14
For future travels, I'm going to highlight some of your statements from above:
  • "comedy of errors"
  • dedicated Silver Medallion Member Skymiles Account
  • blatant disregard for the truth
  • outrageous delays
  • extremely rude to my husband and me
  • Delta seems to be taking a "divide and conquor" approach
While your needs were valid and communicated in advance, such statements will not be well received by them I think, especially in the case of an executive. This is not to dismiss the impact of your experience or the emotional/physical distress it caused in any way.

But when seeking the attention of an executive, who is very busy with executive-level matters and is not normally one who deals with customers, brevity is paramount and disparaging remarks are quite risky. You want to win them over to your side.

I fully understand that your husband's airline status is important to you, but in terms of compensation it really is not relevant in this situation, and may infer to the executive a sense of entitlement on your part. That is detrimental to your case I think.

So, going forward, I suggest you focus on the facts when reaching out to service providers for assistance. Too much detail and/or emotion can actually be harmful to your efforts.

That said, I sincerely hope that you obtain a successful resolution. Given your experience, I certainly think you you have a strong case ...
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#15
For future travels, I'm going to highlight some of your statements from above:
  • "comedy of errors"
  • dedicated Silver Medallion Member Skymiles Account
  • blatant disregard for the truth
  • outrageous delays
  • extremely rude to my husband and me
  • Delta seems to be taking a "divide and conquor" approach
While your needs were valid and communicated in advance, such statements will not be well received by them I think, especially in the case of an executive. This is not to dismiss the impact of your experience or the emotional/physical distress it caused in any way.

But when seeking the attention of an executive, who is very busy with executive-level matters and is not normally one who deals with customers, brevity is paramount and disparaging remarks are quite risky. You want to win them over to your side.

I fully understand that your husband's airline status is important to you, but in terms of compensation it really is not relevant in this situation, and may infer to the executive a sense of entitlement on your part. That is detrimental to your case I think.

So, going forward, I suggest you focus on the facts when reaching out to service providers for assistance. Too much detail and/or emotion can actually be harmful to your efforts.

That said, I sincerely hope that you obtain a successful resolution. Given your experience, I certainly think you you have a strong case ...
I agree, a long letter like this, full of extraneous information, will likely go unread by an airline executive. If s/he does start to read it and encounters accusations of rudeness, delays, bad meals, s/he'll just set your letter aside.

And please drop the 'lack of proper food' claim, it just muddies the waters. People who have strict dietary needs cannot count on others to provide the correct food. Travellers have to take care of this themselves.

I agree with my colleagues that you seem to have a strong case. Your job is to get your case heard by a Delta executive. In order to do that, your email must be concise and list only the facts.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
773
747
93
#16
I certainly agree that going without meals is a big problem. Keeping kosher myself and having once missed a connection to London (through no fault of my own) and having to go the whole flight without food because they wouldn't get another kosher meal on the replacement flight, I know from experience how it feels. I am sorry that happened. Good luck with getting a satisfactory outcome from Delta.
 
Jun 18, 2017
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#19
Dear Team Elliot
I used your suggestions and posted the letter to Delta. I'm sure it was still too verbose. Nevertheless I received and answer for Air France a few days ago that was equally verbose.
I wrote to Delta and got a reply from Air France full of sympathies and apologies for all the problems we faced offering each of us a $500.00 Air France voucher good only for the next year. No mention was made of the domestic destruction of my combonation transport chair/rollator, the damage to our luggage during our Delta return from JFK-BWI.

Unfortunately, now my surgeon tells me I will have to undergo at least 2 more orthopedic procedures to repair the damage to my foot. Therefore we cannot be sure to be able to use these Air France vouchers before they would expire. Being able to travel as a couple is very important to me because my husband is my caretaker. We requested a refund in Delta gift cards instead of travel vouchers so we can make plans to travel abroad together...
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
5,915
6,005
113
San Francisco
#20
Dear Team Elliot
I used your suggestions and posted the letter to Delta. I'm sure it was still too verbose. Nevertheless I received and answer for Air France a few days ago that was equally verbose.
I wrote to Delta and got a reply from Air France full of sympathies and apologies for all the problems we faced offering each of us a $500.00 Air France voucher good only for the next year. No mention was made of the domestic destruction of my combonation transport chair/rollator, the damage to our luggage during our Delta return from JFK-BWI.

Unfortunately, now my surgeon tells me I will have to undergo at least 2 more orthopedic procedures to repair the damage to my foot. Therefore we cannot be sure to be able to use these Air France vouchers before they would expire. Being able to travel as a couple is very important to me because my husband is my caretaker. We requested a refund in Delta gift cards instead of travel vouchers so we can make plans to travel abroad together...
I'm sorry about the extra surgeries, that must be a disappointment. Ask the airlines to extend the vouchers for another 12 months. You never know.
 
Likes: Neil Maley