Delta’s Nightmare Week Has Been Made Worse By Their Own Greed

I’m currently on a United flight to Vancouver for Pesach.

Over the past few days I’ve had several friends reach out to me for help dealing with Delta cancellations while trying to fly for Pesach as well.

The last week has been a nightmare for Delta with thousands of cancelled flights. Last week’s operations issues have even spilled over into today as well. The monitors I saw in the airport confirmed that Delta flights were still a mess.

2 years ago Delta executives realized that their operational performance was much better than American’s and United’s performance. Delta had several years head start in the merger wars by swallowing Northwest earlier than United merged with Continental and American merged with USAirways.

American and United were experiencing merger pains and were increasingly reliant on Delta to accommodate their customers during irregular operations. So Delta gave American and United an ultimatum. Pay a much higher rate to take care of their customers or they would rip up their interline agreement that allows airlines to accommodate their passengers on other airlines.

United agreed to the significant rate hike, but American refused. Since then American and Delta will generally not accommodate passengers for each other. And with only 3 major network carriers left in the US, that is bad news when American or Delta have operational issues.

It meant that American refused to accommodate us on a Delta flight to London during our fiasco in November 2015.

It’s actually a nice unadvertised perk when flying United that they are able to accommodate on American or Delta. American or Delta won’t accommodate passengers on each other, meaning there are fewer alternate flight options available during irregular operations.

It wasn’t the end of the world that we didn’t make it to London. London clearly just doesn’t want me there as I’ve run into airline operations issues all 3 times I’ve booked flights there. Though to be fair, all 3 times were on OneWorld’s American or British Airways. Perhaps I’ll use another alliance if I try again.

One of the many reasons I avoid ultra-low cost carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit is their lack of interline agreements with any other airlines. When issues arise, it can be days before they can reaccommodate you.

Southwest and JetBlue typically have more frequent flights and better operations. The major network carriers also have more interline options.

While Delta normally does run a tight ship, the past week has proven that no airline is immune to systemwide problems.

And their own greed which led to their lack of an interline agreement with American has meant that it has been harder for them to get their passengers going where they need to be.

It’s something to think about the next time you need to get somewhere and can’t afford not to make it to your destination.

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19 Responses to “Delta’s Nightmare Week Has Been Made Worse By Their Own Greed”

  1. Mendel Says:

    I thought this would be about higher award rates in the last week

  2. Ejb Says:

    This article is pretty timely 🙂

  3. Shaul Says:

    Aren’t airlines generally more stingy with Interlining when it comes to weather-related operations, since they’re not on the hook for DoT compensation in the first place?

    I will say that though Delta seems to be the best in regular operations, they’ve had 2 or 3 major outages in the last few months alone. UA seems to be the winner right now (except their NY operations being out of EWR).

  4. ML Says:

    Has anyone successfully been compensated for a cancelled flight to Florida from NYC from Delta for today? So far we have only gotten $200 each from Delta after we were told our flight was cancelled due to ‘weather’ issues. That seems like nonsense to me, because it is sunny in Florida and NYC.

  5. Dan Says:

    That’s great unless you actually need to get somewhere…

    At this point it’s hard to make the claim that it’s still weather.
    Plus many agents will rebook you on another airline even due to weather, just about being nice and polite and finding the right agent.

    File a DoT complaint.

  6. R Says:

    Are airlines required to give additional compensation for cancellations (even if weather related), or only a refund of the fare?

  7. a Says:

    @ML , send your grievances to the CEO, he should hear about it.

  8. High end hobo Says:

    Maybe also talk about their major no notice devaluation that happened during all this??

  9. Mark Says:

    It may be greed, but I have to assume it’s also regular business. If Delta found that they were providing a service to American that was worth $20M/year to American, and receiving a service in return that was worth $10M/year to Delta, then they are fully within their rights to request an additional $10M from American to even the scales.

  10. ExGingi Says:

    Not sure Delta is more greedy than any of the others. It’s a case of arrogance IMHO.

    My question is how far after weather issues can they anchor themselves on that to avoid paying adequate compensation? Question is especially relevant in cases where flights involve mandatory compensation, such as EU or TLV.

  11. Dan Says:

    Definitely within their rights, but my argument is that it’s short-sighted money grab and that it hurts their own operation at the end of the day.

    It’s both.

    That would be up to the DoT. I’d say they will have a hard time justifying poor operations several days after a weather event on the weather, so hopefully people running into issues today will file complaints.

  12. Sam Says:

    Thanks for posting Dan. My parents had a terrible experience with Delta this week. Thursday night they spent three hours on the tarmac waiting for pilots who were not over their hours and could fly. Delta kept piling on excuses and not even using the weather as an excuse. After an hour, even the flight attendants left the plane, leaving the flyers with no food or drink. Close to the 3rd hour, the flight was cancelled.
    They were put on a Sunday morning flight with a in stopover North Carolina making the trip much longer than needed. Not to mention a downgrade in seats . During their delays and flight cancellation me and my siblings called Delta maybe 50 or so times to try to figure things out (before my parents were rebooked). The phone wouldn’t even connect to their line. I tried contacting them via twitter and facebook, and only received a reply on facebook 24+ hours later.

    When their Flight was subsequently canceled, no one would release their bags to them. Friday morning they sent one bag back to Miami airport, and left the other behind. My parents spent four hours in JFK before Shabbat trying to find a missing bag. No one was there to help them, and the line was out the door. Right after shabbat there was no updates so they had to go to JFK to see what’s going on themselves. After three hours they found the bag in terminal 4 and not terminal 2 where it should’ve been. Thankfully they have just arrived today with no issues.

    My family has spent hundreds of dollars on cabs, airport parking, rental cars, and lost money from not using the apartment rental. Not to mention the bag that was found at JFK was damaged quite a bit. My family and I understand problems occur especially when it comes to weather. BUT, Delta has been experiencing problems since Tuesday . We don’t understand how they were not able to provide customer service for over four days to loyal customers. Having a 13 hour call with time is really unexcusable. My family and I will think twice before Using Delta next time and most likely cancel our Delta AMEX cards as we won’t need them anymore.

    As soon as the vacation is over we will take all the expense receipts and follow up with Delta in terms of compensation. We will go to the DOT, and even small claims court if necessary. We aren’t the type of people do constantly seek compensation, but this incident was beyond us.

  13. Dan Says:

    Delta’s arrogance here is beyond the pale. They’re going to lose a lot of customers this week.

  14. reb yid Says:

    “Definitely within their rights, but my argument is that it’s short-sighted money grab and that it hurts their own operation at the end of the day.”

    So far being stingy with customers has worked out well for them, like with many big businesses. AA net income down 65% in 2016, Delta down only 3%.

  15. Dan Says:

    @reb yid:
    AA has been even stingier than Delta with saver awards. Though at least they’re honest about being horrible.

    Either way, I’m talking 5 years down the line. It takes time for consumers to realize they’re being hosed.

  16. Avi Says:

  17. A Guy Says:

    Now with United’s​ violence is there any good airline?

  18. Joe Setton Says:

    I will never fly from LGA again! Delta was totally unprepared for this and it was a disaster

    Some impulse and my family and I booked a minivan and drove from LGA to Orlando

    Let’s see if we get compensated for anything other than the value of the tickets once we get home.

    Chag sameach everyone!

  19. Vostie Says:

    The correct email address is :


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