How Delta Is Compensating Those Impacted By Their Operational Meltdown

Filed Under: Delta

Delta had quite a meltdown last week, following a big storm that hit their Atlanta hub. While there’s nothing they can do about weather, the degree to which it impacted their operations left a lot of people wondering just how operationally reliably they are. They had around 4,000 canceled flights, and their CEO admitted that they let their customers down, and that they’re taking steps to prevent similar issues in the future.

Let’s keep in mind that Delta trademarked the term “on-time machine,” and they think they’re so good operationally that they don’t even have an industry standard interline agreement with other major carriers, which allows them to rebook passengers on competing airlines.

Delta got a big gift this past Sunday, in the form of the United incident involving Dr. Dao, as it took all of the attention off their operational problems.


Given what a disastrous week they had operationally, Delta will proactively be sending out compensation to certain passengers, with the offer to choose between a $200 travel voucher and 20,000 Delta SkyMiles. Per Point Me to the Plane, here are the terms associated with the offer:

Delta will provide a PROACTIVE $200 travel voucher or 20,000 SkyMiles to all customers who experienced an IROP (a delay of greater than three hours in getting to their final destination, or a canceled flight) on two or more flights during the course of the April 3-9 service. This includes travel scheduled on April 3-9, 2017.


  • Customer is on a cancelled flight and they opt not to travel and take the refund: Do not qualify
  • Customer is on a flight either canceled or delayed and they are rebooked on another flight that is delayed for less than three hours: Do not qualify
  • Customer is on a flight either canceled or delayed and they are rebooked on another flight that is also canceled or delayed for more than three hours: Qualify

On one hand I commend them for offering proactive compensation. On the other hand, it seems pretty cheap to only compensate passengers if they experienced two major delays or cancelations. So if your flight was canceled and then they could only rebook you on a flight a couple of days later, you’re apparently not entitled to compensation. It’s especially disappointing given how much pride Delta takes in their operational reliability.

Regardless, if you flew Delta in the past week or so, hopefully you have an email coming your way. And Delta has certainly done a better job handling overbooked flights this week than United has

Were you impacted by Delta’s operational problems last week?

  1. so if someone had to be somewhere for business or could not afford to pay for extra 2 nights at hotel so they decide to drive or take other options then Delta will not compensate them

    Well I have been a Delta Diamond member since they started level (also an AA EX Platinum since AD started level) so I have written an email to Delta about how I had to wait from Thursday to Sunday (no cancellation but flight delays over 5+ hours)

    I expect Delta to compensate me for rental cars, food, lodging, and new cost of AA flight which was more than 2x Delta original cost

    If I don’t get a good compensation I plan to put all my travel on AA unless I must fly Delta because of schedule or cost being to big

  2. Having been a Diamond since the beginning I have never seen such a broad systems failure at Delta. Weather happens and having a delay is par for the course but how it was handled was the problem. The phone App failed. I couldn’t rebook at Sky Club lines were out in the hall. Twitter was unresponsive. The Diamond line had a three hour hold time and then they disabled the call back feature. I was summoned six times to the departure gate only to find out that parts of the flight crew were not even in the State of Georgia at departure time. I held out for a 12:30 AM departure and at 12:15AM the gate agent went down the jetway to the plane and hadn’t returned 30 minutes later when I finally gave up.

    I got into a hotel at 2AM and realized I may not get home the following day and I had no way to communicate with Delta. I finally realized that Delta’s asian offices would be open and called Hong Kong and got an agent in two minutes who rebooked me on one of the few flights that went out on time the next day.

    There are a lot of lessons for Delta to learn from this episode and as it is costing them $125 million I suspect they will make some changes.

  3. I was going to Toronto for a 3 day weekend, and Delta canceled my flight on Friday and wasn’t going to be able to get me there at all (even from other nearby airports) this past weekend. I rebooked my flight for 3 weeks LATER, losing the two nights hotel I already paid for. I expect to get compensation for them, but they’ve been sketchy on details to begin with (blaming one day of storms for five days of cancellations) so I won’t be too surprised if they just offer an apology and wipe their hands of it.

    I bet American is pretty happy right now between Delta and United’s debacles!

  4. Wait a minute. AA was using “the on-time machine” in 1988 as part of its DC-10 ad campaign. See videos on YouTube.

  5. From what I understand, those that do not qualify for the proactive offer are not necessarily not getting any compensation, it just isn’t automatically given. Customer Relations will still evaluate each case if the customer writes in.

  6. Been stranded too many places, for way too long, to believe any of the Delta nonsense.

    This is just the latest of many “extraordinary” (their claim, not mine) calamities.
    It’s clear DL has inadequate contingency plans for ‘normal, bad weather’
    The load factors are too high, the slack capacity doesn’t exist and they fly older (think the DC9/MadDogs) aircraft with higher maintenance requirements.
    It all adds up to really bad experiences when there are slight ripples in the Delta network.

  7. This does not BEGIN to compensate folks like my husband who were essentially held against their will for three days while the airline continually said – “just another 15 minutes -” knowing to leave meant relinquishing their seats with no rental cars available. As the parents of a child with leukemia we have missed enough special events and family gathering to circumstances beyond our control. Delta was at fault and must pay. My husband documented every employee who was not where they were scheduled to be, and finally got home because he had as the First Officer on his flight called the missing Captain only to find he’d been released and was at home, even through he had hours left and was scheduled on the manifest. We are searching for a litigator and will pursue a class action civil suite if necessary.

  8. I had 2 DL delays last week, one 17 hours (not kidding) and the other 7 hrs. Both mechanical BEFORE the Wednesday ATL storms.

    Two things Delta needs to do: Quickly re-enter into the inter-line agreement with AA…and do not demand extra $$ from AA you arrogant Delta suits. Secondly, it’s becoming more obvious by the day that the tape & bailing wire repairs in DL’S 1980-1990 era aircraft is no longer working. I often board DL planes and wonder if I will EVER fly on a DL plane built in the 21st century. Modernize your fleet Delta.

  9. @RoloT

    Systemically, DL just has so many problems that it’s hard to see how anyone can accept their “we never cancel”, “we have the best ontime record”, “we are the most loved” proclamations at face value.

    They failed to get me where I was going on the correct day on three separate occasions in 2015… haven’t been back since. There’s only so many times you have to twiddle your thumbs for 9 hours over mechanical issues before you realize that Delta has the best PR Team in the business, but the worst fleet flying through the worst hubs.

  10. So many issues lately with other airlines only reaffirm my desire to fly Southwest every chance I get. They’ve surprised me on several occasions with being proactive about offering vouchers without even asking for them. First was just a simple mechanical delay that cost us less than two hours and they called everyone up to get a $100 voucher. Second time was when they had to divert us to FL since there was a runway issue in Charleston that needed to be cleaned up before and flights could land. Still only a two hour delay at max but I was surprised to find three $100 vouchers in my email when returning from from that trip. That last one wasn’t even remotely Sourhwest’s fault but they take care of their customers. I’m loyal to them every chance I get. Now if only they’d start flying to Europe and Hawaii!

  11. I had a canceled flight due to an engine problem and emailed delta. I had to spend the night in Hartford this January and fly out the next day. i am a Diamond and Delta gave me 20K miles and the cost of the hotel room.

  12. Out of the three legacy carriers, I wouldn’t say that Delta is the best, rather I’d say they suck the least. Overall, I’ve had decent luck with them, even with IRROPs. Now, I wasn’t part of the fluster-cluck of last week, but comparatively speaking, they get us where we need to be more reliably than the other two. Again, not ideal, but there aren’t a huge amount of options in the USA.

  13. I got caught on this on the 6th, and apparently then don’t qualify. First flight delayed 5h30m so they rebooked me on a second flight, which arrived 2h13m late.. and they had me change from LGA to JFK at my own expense ($55 taxi). They knew my first flight was delayed before I ever left for the airport, as the incoming flight was delayed 4h and hadn’t even left ATL by the time it was scheduled to leave LGA. They knew I was going to miss my connection and need to be rebooked.

    So I spent 9h at LGA and JFK, and spent $55 on a taxi to get home at 4:30am, but because we weren’t delayed an extra 45min, I get nothing. Ironically, this flight got me to silver medallion for 2018.. great.

    At least their “re-accommodation” just cost me time, money and sleep and no teeth or brain damage.

  14. Ben, Delta has an interline agreement with United, not American. Trust me, I used it in this mess! I had two flights cancelled and spend 3 extra days in NYC completely unplanned. I was furious. I expect much more compensation.

  15. I was stranded by Delta after they double cancelled on both April 6 and again 7th. There was virtually no communication by text or email, other than the rebooking notice on the 6th and the cancellation notice on the 7th. It actually took them 8 hours to call me back on the 6th, by which point I had been rebooked for the 7th and had already checked into a hotel for staying overnight. On the 7th they sent me a text and email cancelling, saying only that they would get back to me with options. That never happened. I gave up, rented a car, and drove 600 miles home. It wasn’t until I called to complain yesterday that they gave me the offer Lucky details above. They completely blew this at every level.

  16. I had two cancellation Friday the 7th. Just got my 20,000 miles a minute ago. There wasn’t $200 voucher. I guess because they put me on another airline to get home?

  17. I was delayed 4.5 hours MSP-DFW on Friday. Flight time kept getting pushed back in ~45 min chunks (turned out FAs timed out and new ones were being flown in). Tweeted @Delta and was instantly given a $200 voucher, then today got the unsolicited email apologizing and informing me that i would be getting 20k miles in the next few days. Not bad. colin

  18. Was flying from PHX (work) to FLL on Friday to go on a cruise on Saturday. Flight cancelled and nothing to get me in in time to get the cruise departure. Took a redeye on AA to EWR as I had a a jetblue flight Friday booked with my fiance that wasn’t worth cancelling when the work trip came up. Jetblue canceled a few hours before heading to the airport and there wasn’t a flight on the eastern seaboard on any carrier that would work. Ended up renting a POS car and driving 21 hours.

    Sunday will be spent contacting carriers and travel insurance companies to attempt to recoup something

  19. Without award charts, 20k proactive points feels a bit fishy. Can’t they just artificially inflate redemption costs to keep this cost neutral for themselves? There will be winners and losers, I suppose, but in the long run I bet this is a break even endeavor for the most part.

  20. I got the 20000 skymiles. My flight was delayed, I got off the plane and drove home. Delta refunded me and gave me the points with no action on my part.

  21. My girl friend was coming for the ten days visit from Peru (with limit English and limit money), more than 60 hours were spent in the Atlanta airport waiting for a series of planes that were delayed and then canceled, she then had to enter into 4 – 5 lines to get an other ticket, only for that plane to be delayed and canceled. In the end, I arrange a greyhound bus trip to take her from Atlanta to DC. A trip that should have taken about 13 hours took three full days. She and I were a wreck when she finally arrived. Lots and lots of extra money was spent, days spent worrying, and it was clear that Delta had melted down and each and every link in the system was broken. That is why it took then four days to recover from a single strom. Hey, Chicago will get three feet of snow and all flights will be running in 12 hours. The only extraordinary thinkg about this mishap was Delta’s complete mishandling of it.

  22. We flew into ATL from Amsterdam on Thur Apr 6–24 hours after the LAST STORM. Our 7:10 connection to Ft Myers was CANCELLED. After standing in lines, we were put on “standby” for an 11:40pm flight. We waited at the gate hoping to get ticketed but that flight was CANCELLED at 11:30. We had been up 26 straight hours by that time, and had to stand in line again for over an hour and were booked on a SUNDAY MORNING flight. Had to spend 3 nights in “captivity” in Atlanta, the first night way up near Marietta as all hotels were filled and no rental cars. A $50 cab and 28 hours without sleep and they refused to compensate. Our flights were NOT weather related–they were a Delta LOGISTICS problem. So on Saturday night we were able to book a room at the ATL Airport Hilton only to receive an email at 3:30am showing our 8:10 flight to Fort Myers was CANCELLED. That’s 3 cancellations, 3 nights in captivity in ATL. After that email, I went online and was able to book an auto, and we dressed and went to the airport before all the cars were once again “gone.” We drove 9 hours to Fort Myers. I sent a bill to Ed Bastian CEO at Delta requesting a full refund for our 3 days of expenses. Delta COULD HAVE
    A–Rebooked on ANY OTHER AIRLINE
    B–Paid for rental cars starting on Wed, the day of the storms
    C–Worked with rental car companies to move in more cars to help take the load off the airport
    D–Eliminated all lines (the most annoying part of any delay) and kept announcing all available agents were working on reticketing and passengers would be notified by email (which is what they did Saturday night when they cancelled our 3 day late Sun AM flight)
    E–Bussed passengers to other airports including Chattanooga, Macon, Charlotte, Greenville, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Jacksonville and even Orlando–none of them more thn 5 hours away and further dispersed the crowds.
    We have written to Ed Bastian requesting reimbursement for our expenses. Will report back.

  23. Booked a flight from RIC to TPA for a cruise for my wife 40th birthday on April 8th. . Our flights were cancelled right before takeoff. We missed our cruise departure. I drove 5 hours to Charlotte airport to catch a flight to Honduras to meet the cruise ship on day 3. I paid $1950 for 2 tickets to fly into Honduras the same day with American Airlines. Paid $235 for stay in Honduras. Spent $80 in gas and $49 for parking. The price for the cruise was $2000 for a seven day cruise in which we missed the first 2 days. We deserve some type of compensation for such a tough start to our vacation.

  24. My flight cancelled sat April 8, and only rebooking they offered was tues April 11, missed 3 days of a vacation costing $3400 I received 20,000 miles same as passengers who had a flight delay of 3 hours, not adequate in my mind. Any suggestions on channels to use to get reimbursed??? Thank u

  25. Our flight out of Buffalo, NY was cancelled on April 8th due to no pilot was a. We were rebooked for a flight on April 11, loosing 3 days of our vacatio and the associated hotel costs. I was told by customer care there was nothing they could do. I then wrote to CEO Bastian in hopes of gettig a better result. No reply as of today.

  26. I flew Milan to JFK on Thursday, April 6…..with conx to Tampa. Connections all cancelled but Delta agents lied repeatedly about flight just being delayed. Complete and utter chaos with no way to contact Delta and the “help desks” totally unable to assist. Pathetic how I had to actually suggest city codes to gate agents unfamiliar with other Florida cities. At 330am I was finally rebooked on a flt from LGA to Sarasota so made my way to LaGuardia. After numerous delays and a night without sleeping, I boarded and buckled in to my seat only to hear another passenger say Why does DL show this flight as cancelled? FA asked 1st Officer and that is how he learned the flt was cancelled! I was sent back to the 5th help desk and when DL agent did not know how to refund my tkt I gave up. Bought my own SW tkt on April 8 from Islip to Orlando and rented car to drive myself home. I spent 980.00 to get home in time for part of mothers 90th birthday. Sure planning to get more than a lousy 20k miles and was never offered a voucher. Interestingly I did learn that the 3rd flt DL rebooked me on was repeatedly delayed by over 12 hours, so had I waited on Delta I would have arrived home Monday at 1130pm. No excuse for that! You may want to read pilot blogs and forum re DL breakdown….the DL employee lounges were full of officers and FA but no one knew where to go! That is NOT weather!

  27. My daughter was taking her first trip as a young adult by herself. after her nonstop flight with Delta from Kansas City to New York was cancelled the rerouted her to Detroit where they then proceeded to cancel three more flights after giving her a blanket and a bag of chips to wait the overnight out they sent her on to Atlanta to catch a connecting flight to New York when asked at the counter if they could let her stay in the lounge in Atlanta they told her no they would not do that. Delta refused to refund any of her money even after taking a full day of her vacation in which they did not provide a hotel room because they said they were all booked up. Then after she asked if she could sit in the member lounge for an hour before her flight boarded from Atlanta they told her no

  28. My husband and myself were delayed 5 hours on a flight from Roatan to Atlanta on the 8th April and arrived in Atlanta around midnight only to be told that we could only be rebooked on a flight back to the UK , the next day at 5pm, 17 hours later. Left to book our own hotel room when everywhere was fully booked, tired and stressed we eventually found an available room 1 hour later at 1 o’clock in the morning, after phoning every hotel in Atlanta. Delta gave us 20.000 sky miles…did not want them as we are not intending to fly with Delta ever again, and after 4 months of complaining both directly with Delta and on Twitter, no response has been received and nothing has been done other than Delta saying (on Twitter) that they have forwarded and escalated the case (but no evidence of that). Will not fly with Delta ever again!!

  29. We scheduled and paid for a river boat cruise in Europe last summer and had to pay in full at that time. Our flight to Amsterdam was to leave 7:27pm on Sat. With a connecting flight to Budipest. Arrived at airport e hours early as told to. After5 hours of delays the flight was cancelked do to equipment failure. No attempt was made to accommodate us and flight rescheduled to 10am next day then to 5pm next day. Short story, delayed several times and again canceled due to equipment failure. We missed our lifetime dream cruise and not even a blink from Delta.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.