Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to South Africa - No Thanks to Delta

Oh, Delta Airline – is there no way you won’t abuse and screw over your passengers? The Atlanta to Joburg flight last night was delayed multiple times totaling nearly six hours. Throughout the communication was dubious, but once we finally we prepared to get off the ground Delta officials insisted that we would all be taken care of upon arrival, an important factor since just about anyone with a connecting flight was certain to miss it.

Fast forward to a few hours ago. We land at a quiet O.R. Tambo Airport at nearly midnight. Now keep in mind that every element of the delay has to do with issues in the United States and not in South Africa, yet the South African staff was left to deal with dozens of customers who had been made promises. Instead, we find out that only those with connect owns booked directly through Delta would be addressed. And given that Delta has almost no partnerships with South African carriers, that effectively took them off the hook in their mind not only for addressing those connections but for providing lodging. Keep in mind also that many of those stranded in Joburg are not especially familiar with either e country or the city and yet are essentially being told that on their own they have to book a room on their own aft midnight in a strange (and sprawling) city.

I advocated for Delta at least minimally helping people arrange for hotels that we would have to pay for on our own and an understanding agent did do that after 1:00 this morning. I got into a guest house in Edendale at nearly 2 and of course am now having trouble sleeping. And I have no idea what to expect when I get to South African Airways tomorrow to ask them to rebook me for my missed flight to Durban tonight. I expect that there will be a few headaches. But (and take note, Delta) ultimately SAA is aware that you don’t abuse your customer base and I suspect that at some point tomorrow I’ll be in Durban, enjoying far more temperate climes than those here in Joburg. I’ll arrive at the South African Historical Society conference really late, but better late than never.

(Cross posted at the FPA Africa Blog)

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