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Here’s what Delta Airlines did after they smashed my lute

An update from the severely maltreated musician, Christopher Wilke:

wilke

 

 

Here I am at the Rochester NY airport the night of January 11th 2014 in the Baggage Services office of Delta Airlines immediately following my connecting flight from Detroit that destroyed my lute. Soon passersby began to stop, pointing and gasping at the broken instrument. When a real crowd started to gather, the Delta representative (who would only give her name as “Regina B.”) abruptly announced that she would be closing the office to attend to an unrelated baggage matter, telling us to leave immediately.

When my wife and I refused to go, she threatened to have us forceable removed by the police! We instead demanded to see a supervisor, who took more of our time, but apparently only pretended to file a damage report. As of today (Jan. 13th, 2014) Delta claims no such report was ever filed. Delta, I really would like someone at your organization to take this seriously!!!

 

 

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Comments

  1. Sanda Schuldmann says:

    Some one needs to send this report to Huffington Post , MSNBC, and all the other media outlets and get it to go viral; may be then they might respond.

  2. Ridiculous! It’s good the musician took pictures. Make sure you document these events in great detail!

  3. As far back as 1985, Delta dropped a Tuba from the aircraft hold to the Tarmac with total disaster for the instrument. They Denied it, tried to accuse the band I was with of fraud. Fortunately one of the musicians was videoing the loading from the departure lounge as he was concerned that the loaders were being reckless.

  4. Lisa Fogler says:

    What can be done? It seems like this had been a problem for a long time, and not just in the USA. Will musicians ever be able to travel with their instruments without having them ruined by accident or destroyed on purpose?

  5. You just can’t buy publicity like that. Ask Lynn Harrell what Delta did to him.

  6. A few years ago, when United smashed a guitar and stonewalled the owner, he composed a song ‘United Breaks Guitars’, put it on YouTube and it went viral. (look it up.) Quick response after that. Maybe you should give Delta a dose of the same medicine by writing and posting a nice ditty with lute accompaniment.

  7. I am a luthier and from what I see the lute has a warped top. That can only happen when the instrument is exposed to an immensely dry environment. An airplane has dry air in its pressurised cabin, we all know that. May be that is the cause. Rough handling usually leads to damages on the case as well as splintered timber. Not a warped top.

    All I am saying is, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the naming and shaming and have a qualified luthier examine the instrument close-up. Maybe, just maybe Delta isn’t to blame and is this issue a huge accident. A fluke.

    • Well, you may be a luthier but you obviously know nothing about the construction of a lute.

    • Orpheo – When I first opened the case, the top was smashed down into the lute, but still attached to the end. Obviously it was impact damage. As we were in the Baggage Services office speaking with this agent, the top cracked off completely, sending shards of wood flying across the room. I always take special care to make sure this instrument is kept humidified. In fact, if you look closely at the above photo, you can see a black disc still sitting on the top at the end of the fingerboard. That is a case humidifier, which I use when I’m on the road. Normally, the lute stays in a humidity-controlled room at home. When traveling, I re-wet the sponge every day. I was only away from home for three days at this point. This is of great concern for me and re-wetting the sponge was practically the last thing I did as I left my hotel room on the morning of this flight.

      • Also, the damage occurred on a short connecting flight of about 45 minutes. I was able to personally bring the instrument on board the plane with me for the previous flight, the major portion of the journey. The lute would only have been below decks for a short while, hardly enough to cause such damage and it still doesn’t explain how the soundboard was smashed into the instrument originally.

        Another suspicious thing… I valet-checked the lute and the handlers brought everyone else’s bags out before mine. I had to specifically ask them to fetch “the musical instrument case” and they took some time to go back in and find it.

        • If the lute was in a flight case taped several times around with duct tape and this does not happen. I travel often with stringed instruments with a flight case, never had a problem yet as long. Next time tape the case up after they inspect it at check in.

          • Weird, my post got mangled. Let’s try that again: If the lute was in a flight case taped several times around with duct tape, this would not happen. I travel often with stringed instruments with a flight case, never had a problem yet. Next time tape the case up after they inspect it at check in. :)

            REPLY

        • Maybe you should make a music video of this, like what Dave Carroll did when United broke his guitar and he didn’t get anywhere on getting any compensation or acknowledgement of the damage.

    • Buzz Scannella says:

      You are basing your so-called expert diagnosis on a photo. I would defer to the owner of the instrument for a more reliable account. Delta is no more or less indifferent to luggage and checked items than any other carrier. They are all dismissive and arrogant.

  8. What is the status of the new carry-on-board rules for musical instruments in the US?. Are they in place yet, or still waiting to be officially issued by the Transportation Department?

    • They are in place. Every once and a while I have to bring it up myself, but I’ve never had trouble with it. I’m curious as to why it worked to bring the flight on for one leg of the trip but not the other.

      • Karen Griebling says:

        Often it has to do with the size of the plane. Small commuter jets like Embraer don’t have much (sometimes, any) overhead storage. These days I find it prudent to check the type of plane that will be flown before booking the flight. Since I live in a city that must always connect through a hub and most of the planes flying in and out are Embraer commuter jets, I try to fly Southwest which flies only 737s to most domestic destinations. When I can’t, I ALWAYS check the type of plane and carry a copy of the AF/M agreement letter with the FAA in the case just in case….

    • Don’t those new rules apply only to instruments which may fit in the overhead bins or under the seat?

    • The new instrument rules apply only when the instrument can either fit under the seat, in the overhead or the owner has purchased a ticket for the instrument. Most of the Delta flights in/out of ROC now are smaller regional jets and it’s doubtful a lute case would fit in that overhead. In that even a gate check is required.

  9. Alan Penner says:

    I have no idea what kind of case that is, but if it’s ANYTHING less than a custom flight case you’ve brought it on yourself, mate. Especially with such a delicate instrument as a lute. That’s just asking for trouble.

    • you can clearly see in the photos that the case is undamaged. The damage could not have been sustained if the case was left latched…

      • So if someone falls and breaks a bone but their skin is unharmed then they’re faking it right? The case is there to protect the instrument, not to make it invincible. Impact damage can occur to an instrument even if the case is fine, it all depends on how it fell and what the angle was. Throw a Fender Telecaster across a stage and it’s usually fine, tip a Gibson off a guitar stand and it’s toast. It all comes to build construction, angles in the instrument, string tension, how it fell, etc. The point is that this man is getting no real help because he is money to them, not a person. That is the real problem. Companies need to take responsibility of their employees actions. End of story.

    • It is indeed a risk to check a musical instrument with the rest of the baggage, but even normal baggage is subject to damage or theft. The question is, why should this happen at all, to any passenger! One ought to have a reasonable expectation that the airline will deliver both passenger and luggage unscathed, if not always on time. I’m afraid that this shabby treatment will continue if we keep giving the airlines our business.

  10. You can always do what David Carroll of Canada did! See his video that he did when United broke his Taylor Guitar and gave him the run around: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  11. They need to be reported to the Better Business Bureau and the Atty. General’s office!

  12. Jacqueline says:

    Delta was just awful to us after we got stuck on Buffalo and spent $2,000 on two one-way tickets to get to our daughter’s wedding. Flight attendants were snippy as were the people in Atlanta when we were trying to find our next flight.

  13. Solunar Solutions says:

    Buy insurance on valuables before you travel.

  14. AC from the 315 says:

    So the airline gets to break people’s stuff, no recommendations or warnings from the airline on proper packaging/instrument protection, and no comment from whomever checked him in or accepted his instrument to be loaded? Well, if you hand me something of value, and I break it, it’s my fault.
    I fear the whole airline market is screwed up in this way.

    Consumers must realize the power they hold…but they owe is only in big numbers. If you roll your eyes at the idea of a boycott, you’re part of the problem.

    Italian_63@Hotmail.comB.M., ESM 2000.

  15. Delta is the worst airline in the US right now. I’ll never fly them again.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Indeed, as a cellist who travels constantly and almost exclusively with Delta and its partners, while I do feel for your loss, I’m afraid that as a touring musician you must take some responsibility. I always buy a seat for my instrument precisely because of the rough handling of baggage (hence my utter disbelief that someone like Alban Gerhardt could be so careless as to check a beautiful, old Italian cello and French bows!), and on the rare occasions when for reasons of fees, expensive itineraries, etc. this is not possible, I’ll fly without an instrument and arrange to borrow something suitable from a colleague at my destination. Surely an instrument like the lute, which is perhaps even more fragile than a cello, requires a custom-built flight case if it should ever be checked into the baggage hold.

    • anonymous says:

      You are spot on Anonymous. There are specific cases designed for the baggage hold. If not, have one custom made if you are traveling often. In hindsight, you take your own risk when checking any baggage. i know my instruments are NEVER placed in baggage and I save to purchase the extra seat.

    • LesArtistes says:

      You guys, he was carrying it on board with him and had to gate check it for his final flight. I don’t know what kind of case he had, but he certainly didn’t intend to check his instrument in.

      • All — this is precisely the point. When traveling with an instrument, whether we like it or not, it is incumbent upon us as touring, performing artists to know the rules and regulations as they apply to us. That means in the current situation that Mr. Wilke should have been aware that on a shorter route, Delta uses regional jets which can’t accommodate a large carry-on instrument and should thus have been prepared to check the instrument. The alternative is, as I mentioned, always buying a seat, as I and the majority of cellists do, or borrow/rent an instrument at the destination when necessary.

        Likewise, as a cellist, on those occasions when I must use other airlines, I have to take care to educate myself as to their policies. I flew to Hawaii once on Alaska Airlines, for example, which uses aircraft without hard bulkheads in economy class. The result was that I had to buy a first class upgrade for the cello. It was a lousy situation, but the only option at the time.

        This is all most unfortunate, as we all agree — and it certainly pains me to see a colleague’s instrument damaged. However, traveling by air is not an inalienable human right but rather a privilege, and so we are compelled as customers to know the rules and regulations. Most people understand, for example, not to place a valuable painting in checked luggage. So in this instance, if one purchases while traveling artwork which is too large to be taken aboard as hand luggage, the only option is to ship it home.

        Airlines state very clearly in their contracts of carriage that they are not liable for damage to rare, fragile, or valuable items stowed in checked luggage. Those of us traveling with instruments of all sizes then must adjust our plans accordingly.

        • Now it is a “privilege” to fly? The airlines sure have gotten you to swallow their line! (Or maybe you actually work for an airline?) No, the simple fact is that commercial carriers are for-profit companies in the business of exchanging services for payment. We musicians need to stop just accepting the current situation as the norm and demand that airlines handle our items with a modicum of professionalism. All passengers deserve to have their belongings treated with care, not because airlines are doing us a polite favor out of some sense of moral propriety, but for the fundamental reason that they are PAID to provide safe transport for both persons and accompanying property. For example, if an airline, due to negligence or willful malice on the part of employees, were to physically harm a passenger, who would be so callous as to say, “Well, you know how it is. Airlines are under no obligation to avoid maiming people. He should have put on a combat helmet and full body armor before getting on the plane.”? (A hard shell case should be armor enough, really. Not so long ago, this was the only option available to travelling musicians.)
          There have been so many incidents of damage lately that it is obvious the airlines are not even making a pretense of providing an appropriate level of professional baggage handling available to paying clients. Sure, those who can afford it can respond to the arms race by investing in commissioning ever-more-sophisticated fortifications around equipment or resigning to tolerate costly work-arounds (i.e. buying a seat). Ultimately, as paying customers to whom the conscientious transport of goods is a vital component of travel needs, we should be working together to actively prevent airlines from defining the terms of this issue.

          • Anonymous says:

            Believe me, as a colleague and frequent traveler nothing few things would make me happier than a return to the days when we could bring anything we liked aboard a plane and stash our belongings anyplace. As a student, I used to schlep my entire component stereo system by plane to summer camp, along with my cello, for which airlines didn’t always require a seat. Of course the roots of this issue which affects us all may be found in the simple economics of the airlines’ desire to squeeze revenue from a dwindling pot.

            This said though, whether we like it or not, Christopher, we represent the slim minority of travelers, by plane, train, or any other method, and as such we can’t expect that airlines will cater to us. One has a reasonable expectation that his checked luggage will survive intact because the baggage handling system in this fast-moving, global travel network is designed for the speedy and safe loading of suitcases and the like. If a person checks expensive camera equipment or fine china however, it’s logical to assume that these items may be damaged in transit.

            Our fragile musical instruments are another thing entirely since, even with the best handling (as when large orchestras go on tour and charter flights) damage may still occur due to the cold, dry, unpressurized cargo hold. These elements alone can and do affect wooden stringed instruments.

            In the end, we all do our part to confront the regulations which govern our own air travel — I, for one, have worked with several colleagues in support of the legislation which was recently passed — but the fact is that our instruments are special and require special handling which only we as their caretakers know how to provide — hence professional cellists, gamba players, and so on buy extra seats. Good luck!

  17. Tweet it – include the photo and tag their official twitter handle. Have all your musician friends retweet. Social Media is currency. I bet they’ll respond quickly to avoid a PR mess

  18. Years ago, Tom Paxton wrote “Thank you, Republic Airlines, for breaking the neck on my guitar.” http://www.amazon.com/One-Million-Lawyers-Other-Disasters/dp/B000000MIB

    Seems to cover the situation pretty clearly.

  19. Allan Murray says:

    I worked at a Canadian airport for two years about ten years ago. Fragile items like guitars were loaded last which seems wise unless you factor in full cargo bays. Where does that music instrument case go when the plane is close to departure. Quite often it is jammed into the space that remains between a wall of suitcases and the roof of the compartment. There is also the factor of a disgruntled low payed employee who is getting little or no respect from his employer and vents on fragiles. It happens most on the cheapest charter flights and also with some of the large airlines who do not pay well. I suspect the only thing a musician could do is have a strong rigid case with reliable catches. Sorry to hear about your experience don’t let Goliath off the hook. Keep track of names dates comments and use the internet to add leverage. best of luck

  20. Someone is a lyre.

  21. As a guitarist myself, I can tell you from personal experience that Delta is the worst possible airline to choose for musicians. Apparently now for musical instruments, baggage representatives claim that they are unable to file a claim number for musical instruments as the system will not allow one to be made, however, if you call the central baggage number they can create a file for you. This file number is vital, especially if you wish to claim for your own private insurance (I actually double check my instrument insurance is up to date before flying just in case a tragic event like this occurs.)

    One of the things that airlines need to realize is that these instruments are a musicians livelihood, and in most cases, irreplaceable. (Just ask anyone that owns a guitar from the late Humphries, or even my Smallman where I would will need to wait 5 years for a replacement). Unfortunately, there is so much emphasis on making sure that laptops and peoples garment bags are stowed these days, that musicians are forced to check their ‘lives’ below.

    Until the apparent new carry on rules come into effect, events like this are inevitable. I know usually if I am not allowed to take my instrument on board (of course the last time was with Delta), I usually yell out in the terminal “Hey, are two people willing to gate check their bags so I can take my instrument on board, and I’ll give you $20 each.” It works every time, except when the Delta desk calls security.

  22. I can tell you from personal experience that Delta is the worst possible airline to choose for ANYONE! Just back from a trip where they radically changed the times, and then even the cities right before I left. Huge hassle for me and no explanation from them. Nothing.

    Isn’t there a website somewhere where one can get ratings of these airlines? Many times we do have choices, and this could be helpful in deciding which airline to use and maybe even effective in getting them to care.

  23. Gareth Jones says:

    Sucks bro, I’m sorry for your loss. I play flamenco and the instruments are similarly delicate. Without paying for another seat (impossible financially!!!) we are at the mercy of the staff, and consequently what kind of mood they may happen to be in at the time they are handling baggage. I don’t know if it has had anything to do with the luck I’ve had with my instruments, but I tell each handler as I’m passing it to them, that my life is in this case, and I have made bumper stickers at kinkos that read “I heart baggage handlers”. Never had an issue…I’ll send you some stickers if you like…I want to make some in each language as well for international travel. It sucks that measures like this even exist….

  24. Very disgusted with the treatment Christopher Wilke got from Delta airlines .Saw this man play that Lute and I can imagine how horrible he feels . The man with the great work ethic gets mistreated by the ones with the bad work ethics .Very unjust!

    • Flight cases and tape will help with luggage handlers, but not with security inspections. TSA (in the US) can and will open and inspect luggage after it has been given up by the passenger. The passenger is not present. TSA officials do not know how to repack instruments. This is the way that Alban Gerhardt’s bow and cello were destroyed about a year ago.

  25. My tour-mate, Sparky (1999 Taylor 310) has suffered GREATLY at the hands of Delta! My last Western US Tour I flew Southwest. This time TSA REMOVED Sparky from the flight case and banged her butt on the floor (grime and dirt on the bough) and split the back. After 2 years of fighting and getting Senator Sherrod Brown involved they admitted that they DID damage my guitar but that they would NOT compensate me for the damage! Their reasoning? “It is not economically viable for the passenger to legally pursue this …” In other words, they KNEW that I couldn’t afford an attorney to recoup my loss! UGH!
    I DO make sure that my LOCAL 1000 – American Federation of Musicians, Union Sticker is quite prominent on my guitar case when traveling….

  26. Delta did the exact same thing to a 5-string banjo of mine, and offered the exact same “superb” service. In contrast, when my wife flew down to Australia to join me while I was working on a film project, Quantas misplaced her luggage. They immediately gave her an “emergency fund” of cash to buy anything she might need that had been in the suitcase. When the suitcase was delivered one day later, Quantas did not ask for the cash to be returned. THAT is how you treat customers (unless you live in a fascist state like the US).

  27. Ask for help on the Delta forums of MilePoint and Flyertalk. They are frequent flier boards that the airlines sometimes read for feedback. Also the people there are experts at dealing with airlines and may have some contacts or ideas for how to get compensated for your loss. Also post on their facebook page a lot.

  28. My family and I fly in and out of ROC quite often, and usually with instruments – guitars, fiddles, ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, etc. We are also huge fans of Delta and only fly other airlines if absolutely necessary. My favorite part about Delta is their customer service – not necessarily the specific people at the airport, but of the company. Try calling them, filing a complaint online, or as someone else said, tweet at them with pictures. I’ve had compensation from them for tiny things like lights being on during a red-eye to bigger things like sitting on the runway for 5 hours. If you bring it to the attention of the company rather than an individual at a small airport who doesn’t have much power, you’ll have a much better chance of recieving compensation. If I can recall correctly, once when I was younger baggage damaged my sister’s violin and they sent her a check for all the repairs. Just be friendly and state the facts and Delta should compensate you!! I believe that Delta as a whole is a good airline with great customer service, sometimes they just don’t have the greatest workers.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Mary says:
      January 14, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      “Try calling them”

      I did, just recently, when I had to rebook a flight urgently and at very short notice during the holidays and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find a seat on another flight the next day which would fit my at that point extremely tight schedule. I tried rebooking online, but the system couldn’t find my ticket number, so I called and the friendly automated voice on the phone told me that my call was very important to them and that my approximate wait time would be: 3 hours.
      So I just went ahead and bought another ticket to secure that flight for the next day.

      • LesArtistes says:

        Well now that the holidays are over, the wait time probably won’t be three hours anymore. Call again and ask them to refund the unused portion of your original ticket. People have to keep some important facts in mind when creating expectations. If it’s a holiday that a lot of people usually travel for or if there is a massive storm over an airline’s hub city, don’t expect your travel plans to be very smooth.

  29. You could try Ruth to the Rescue, from channel 4 in Detroit…. just an idea… i don’t know the number off hand but the website is http://www.clickondetroit.com

  30. From the trivial to traumatic…. (and I consider mangling a beloved instrument traumatic) http://www.hlparker.legalshieldassociate.com

  31. check this out… at least it’ll make you smile.. there’s a while story about how this video caused united to get off the dime and buy the guy a new guitar…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  32. My sister brought a hammer dulcimer to the US from Australia in a specially made wood case. Still, it got smashed. Fortunately, Quantus airlines quickly accepted responsibility and reimbursed her the full value.

  33. LesArtistes says:

    I would have threatened to have the police escort you out, too! You admit that there was a crowd swarming the office. Usually, crowds of people swarming airline baggage offices are loud and angry. If I’m the only person in an office in that situation and I’m trying to finish some “unrelated” work before I get to my next task, and this rowdy couple refuses to leave the office so I can close the door and do my job, one person at a time, then I’m calling the cops! I would like to hear HER side of the story!

    However, for the supervisor to not even file a report, that’s just wrong. Did you get a reference number? Have you checked to see if it works online on their website? You need to call them back and tweet Delta about your instrument!

    • There was no crowd of people “swarming the office.” They could see what was happening through the plate glass window and were gathered outside the office. They were just looking. Why would they be noisy and angry about someone else’s issue? They were thinking to themselves, “If they did this to this guy, what are they gonna do to my stuff?” There was, however, a line of 10 or so people from the latest incoming flight standing in line to speak with this representative with unrelated complaints (no doubt indicative of the overall quality of baggage service at Delta). The crowd of onlookers were making her and Delta look bad, so she cowardly tried to get me to move on by threatening to run away, unconcerned that she would be leaving me and the others high and dry. When I didn’t fall for this tactic, she cowardly threatened to have police escort me out. For what, exactly, requesting to have a valid baggage issue addressed by baggage services personnel?
      They provided no reference number, nor did I know was expected to have one until I tried to file online later as I was instructed to do.

  34. It looks like (to me, from the crappy photo) the strings just tightened in the colder air in the luggage compartment and the lute buckled under the stress. General rule of thumb is to loosen your strings when you have a fragile stringed instrument or guitar (like a lute or a gibson SG. Fenders are built like tanks and generally don’t need the extra care). Looks like the damage happened IN the case to me. Also, ALWAYS bring your guitar with you to the gate… worst case scenario is they gate check it if it doesn’t fit in the overhead or the flight is “too full”. Hey, I’m not a fan of the US based airline industry… they all stink and make a fuss about instruments almost always. I’m just saying’.

  35. This is reminiscent of United Breaks Guitars. A true story, in which the victim used his talents to become the victor, which you can “enjoy” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
    By the way a year and millions of hits later, United relented and paid for the guitar. And Martin, enjoying the publicity, gave him a guitar free!

  36. video cameras of employees loading & unloading luggage might fix some of this stupidity.

  37. When will Airlines understand!? Here’s a piece a wrote about my frustrating experiences flying with my guitar – http://guyvalarino.com/2013/05/12/inflight-guitar-smashings/
    Mr Lebrecht, I really do share in your frustration!

  38. Lawsuit. And pictures.

  39. Maybe iyou shold be informed in a better manner, for next time you take a flight.
    http://aristake.com/?post=87

  40. I am in Public Relations and a journalist. First construct a letter to the airlines to give the folks in the ivory tower a chance to respond, put them on notice, and create a “paper trail”. Place a call to the Customer Relations Division of the airlines and ask them how they plan to proceed. Then bombard every media outlet you can think of or identify that has a large audience. Also identify consumer groups that deal with such matters. Additionally, there is social media (I’m sure the airline has a page too). Leave comments there and ask others to do so. I would also tell your story with a You Tube video. This all puts pressure on the airline to respond and rectify the situation. You can also contact your local news Action Reporter and seek assistance there. Good Luck!

  41. K. Spears says:

    I’ve had the same thing happen when I flew Delta! I was performing in Anchorage Alaska and on my return flight back to Atlanta I picked up my bag from the carousel and noticed large black TIRE TRACKS across the length of my luggage. I then found a seat near the carousel and sat down to inspect the contents of my bag. Although I had packed it deep inside the bag, my prized Native Indian flute was split in 5 places! I immediately took it to the baggage claim office and discussed it with the person on duty and filed a report. Even though I showed her the obvious tire tracks and that my bag had obviously been run over by one of their vehicles, she had NO concern r/e what they had clearly done! I wrote a letter to DELTA and explained the matter but they never even had the decency to even respond.
    From that point to this day whether I fly domestically or internationally, I avoid DELTA Airlines. GO Southwest Airlines!

  42. What’s the latest on this?

  43. Whenever I travel I refuse to allow my instrument to be classed as baggage, if i cant take it as hand luggage then I pay for and extra seat. If i am not allowed to do this then I simply don`t think the gig is worth the risk.

    It is worth noting that baggage holds are not heated so everything goes below freezing when the plane is above the clouds.

    Also, as with a lot of internet posts they quickly descend into political abuse – how boring these posts are.

  44. Greg Lock says:

    Your an idiot! Who allows something this valuable to ride in the cargo compartment!?!?! Don’t be a tight ass next time and buy a seat for your valuable LUTE. I doubt [redacted]

  45. I have nearly a half million ff miles on Delta, flew them faithfully for years and the way they hide behind bureaucracy as a means of carrying out heartless and entirely profit motivated corporate policy finally disgusted me to the point that I stopped using them. AND for popular routes (to Paris, to Japan, etc)- trying to use the ff miles one has accumulated through loyalty (these programs are referred to by the airlines as loyalty programs when the airlines demonstrate no loyalty at all- just contempt- toward their customers) is impossible. They make only the worst of routings available (changing planes 3 times to get to Tokyo, etc) and then charge amazingly usurous amounts of miles for those nightmarish routings (235,000 miles to Japan as compared with 65,000 on United). The airlines make record profits and still do not provide adequate staff (is this called “customer service”??) to answer the phones when you call…and they now charge for the privilege of calling them and making a purchase…..this is a sign of contempt on their parts for their customers.

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