Triangle Trip

Tag: jfk

Delta’s JFK staff continues to provide bad customer service in 2010

by Captain G on Jan.28, 2010, under Airlines, Business Travel, Vacation

Furthering my previous post from last year about Delta’s horrible customer service, I really think New York’s JFK Delta customer service (gate agents, check in agents, ticketing agents, etc.) agents give New Yorkers a real bad name. This excludes Delta’s New York-based flight attendants of course as I have not experienced consistent rudeness on flights.

Apparently Delta’s call center isn’t that much better (see Terminal D’s previous post).

In my attempt to help Delta address its customer service issues at JFK, I just sent the letter to Delta’s Customer Service Department. Let’s see what I get for a response.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I want to first commend Margie Z. at JFK’s Terminal 2 Medallion customer service department. Margie showed compassion and provided excellent customer service by booking me on a later flight because I barely missed the baggage check in time requirement (one hour at JFK vs the norm of 45 minutes at other airports or airlines). Margie is a diamond in the rough in Delta’s customer service department at JFK.

I was booked on yesterday’s (January 27, 2010) 7AM flight from JFK to SFO - Delta flight 717 - and arrived at JFK at 6:05AM. Unfortunately for me, I had to check in baggage - a snowboard for my weekend in Tahoe that I have been greatly looking forward to. When I arrived at the baggage drop off area, the baggage agent told me I was FIVE minutes too late to check in the bag. The agent then directed me to a customer service agent post next to her. The baggage drop off agent told me to stand in line and wait for a customer service representative to assist me. That line consisted solely of one person, me. There is never a line at 6:05am at JFK on a Wednesday.

While standing in “line” for about two minutes, I observed the FOUR customer service representatives each typing away on their computers almost purposely ignoring me - they were probably checking emails for all I know but they were certainly not doing anything that appeared job related. One male employee finally acknowledged I needed help and began to assist me. I told him that I couldn’t print a bag check ticket because I was five minutes late and asked if there was anything he could do. He explained to me that I had somehow missed my flight, the one that wasn’t scheduled to leave for another 55 minutes! To say I was shocked and dismayed is a severe understatement. There was no line at security. I could have easily made it to the gate, grabbed some breakfast and written a short story to boot.

After slowly comprehending the expression on my face, the customer service representative then corrected himself and said that I hadn’t missed the flight, rather I could not go on to the 7AM flight if I had to check in any baggage. He also added that I was 13 minutes late and not just a few minutes late as if to antagonize me further. Perhaps if any one of the four customer representatives had performed the most basic part of their job description I could have explained my situation sooner. To add even further insult, the customer service agent then tried to charge me an additional $50 for booking me on the 9AM flight and checking my bag despite the fact that I explained I am a Gold Medallion member and the change fees should be waived.

Upon hearing that I am a Gold Medallion member the customer service representative refused to help me any further and suggested that I see the Medallion agents around the corner.

I understand that the US airports and airlines are at a heighten security alert level and all checked bags need to travel with the passenger. However, I firmly believe the Delta agents at JFK could have easily put me on the flight and gotten my bag on the same flight if they had just tried to provide some level of real customer service. The one hour prior to departure bag check rule is there to provide the airlines and baggage handlers with enough time to get the bags onto the planes - it’s certainly not a hard and steadfast rule. I have had bags checked 35 minutes prior to departure at Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco International on United without any issues. Perhaps they are running a better and smoother operation?

In addition, the customer service representative did not need to say I was 13 minutes late which was clearly unprofessional and rude. Given the high level of service I received from Delta flight attendants and other agents like Margie Z. at JFK, I expected Delta to better train all of its agents at JFK. I am sure this is not the first time you have heard complaints about JFK’s customer service staff. I have written a similar letter to you last year about a different incident.

As a loyal Delta customer, I really wish that you would pass this letter along to the appropriate JFK manager and address your customer service issues. I would hate to give my business to another airline given the long relationship I have with Delta and the otherwise excellent service you provide. I appreciate your attention into this matter and expect a response from you soon. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions regarding this incident as I am eager to help you improve your service and retain your loyal customers.

Sincerely,

Captain G - provided in my real name of course ;-)

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How United uses airline change fees to take advantage of customers

by Captain G on May.10, 2009, under Airlines

All major airlines except Southwest are using domestic change fees to make up for lost revenue. United is notorious for imposing strict penalties on changes to your airline ticket. Below is an example of how they are doing it.

I will not be able to depart on my scheduled return flight from JFK to LAX on March 11, 2009. I went to United.com to modify my itinerary to change my return date from JFK to LAX to next Sunday, March 17, 2009. I noticed United has repriced my ticket to: $319 plus a $150 change fee making the new ticket $469. United then subtracted my original ticket of $279 and tells me I will need to pay $190 for the change. Below is a print screen directly from united.com.

I then went to Kayak to see how much the one-way JFK to LAX ticket for the same flight with the exact same date and time is worth. The result (below) is $200.

United is basically telling its customers that they are getting a $10 discount for making a change on a return flight vs buying a new one way ticket. United and other airlines should reward their customers for booking round trips with them. Booking a round trip used to be cheaper and customers were rewarded for being loyal. Under this circumstance, I do not see why I should be booking round trips with United or any airlines that charges a hefty change fee. I recalled back in 2005 when United would only charge you their change fee ($50 or so) and put you on the next available flight.

Based on my current finding, I will cancel my United return flight on the very last minute to make sure United cannot sell my seat to another person. As long as you cancel before the flight takes off, United must issue you a credit. In the meantime, I will monitor Kayak and other sites for a cheaper return - I noticed American has a 9AM return on the same date for $180 which is a $10 saving.

Taking advantage of customers through change fees should be reviewed by our Justice Department. Here’s a link to my previous post regarding airline change fees making your ticket under $200 worthless.

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(Fly) Clear no longer launching at LAX?

by Captain G on Apr.07, 2009, under Business Travel, Travel Partners

Furthering my previous post highlighting issues with (Fly) Clear, below are two more missteps:

According (Fly) Clear, they would have Clear service at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by winter 2009. To me, winter 2009 has come and gone. December 21, 2009 is not winter 2009, it is actually winter 2010 (just look at all the winter Olympics schedules if you do not agree). Here we are, spring 2009 and I do not see any signs of (Fly) Clear at LAX. I visited the Clear website today and noticed LAX is now off the map (not even a “coming soon” city). How can (Fly) Clear stay in business when they cannot service the second most populated city in the US.

picture-4

(Fly) Clear also announced that they have launched Clear services at JFK’s terminal 4. I am a frequent flier out of JFK’s terminal 4 and only realized last week that I could use the Clear service. I have been standing on the regular line all this time because I don’t see any Clear signage. How I found out that Clear actually launched in terminal 4 was when someone cut my line last week. There is a Clear station after you pass the initial ID screening. I thought Clear was supposed to help you bypass the ID screening process as most airports have a Clear agent standing right next to the ID screening TSA agent.

If Clear executives read all my post regarding (Fly) Clear to date, their service would grow in leaps and bounces. I should send them an invoice for my consulting services.

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