Delta is experiencing a very high call volume.
CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
They seem often to blame things that are beyond their control and never quite reveal the whole truth behind the chaos.
For almost a week, Delta Air Lines passengers have been stranded all over America because — at least officially — of severe storms that cruised across the south.
More than 3,200 flights have so far been canceled.
Delta has offered platitudes and even pizzas. Yet blaming storms after so many days seems a little odd for a company that prides itself on its on-time qualities.
You know things are suspiciously frustrating when the airline’s own staff begin to vent in public areas.
Hark here on FlyerTalk, where someone who says they’re a Delta flight attendant offered this painful view:
Ok, this is what’s happening. FAs can be reached at any time by the company/scheduling by using the sky pro icrew. Because of the melt down, the FAs have been ordered to stop calling in and only go by what their schedules say on the skypro. No one is updating the skypros. When they do get updated, it’s late or outdated. Flight crews showing up for canceled flts, scheduling looking for crews in the wrong cities i.e. LAX when the crew is in ATL.
But there was more:
Flight crews are being over worked. On duty for 30+ hours — no sleep. No place for the crews to sleep when they are on the ground. The company has given up on trying to find hotels for FAs. The crews are told, once in the air, to find their own accommodations when they get to their destination. The company will reimburse them later. The trouble is, many of the crew are junior and don’t have the money for a room even if they can find them. Lack of sleep and no showers.
This same frustrated human ended with: “While flight crews are easy targets, they aren’t being treated any better than the customers.”
You might think this is just one disgruntled airline employee (and on forums one can never be entirely sure who’s posting). But even this would be odd to hear, given how Delta’s employees are said to be among the more motivated in the industry.
But here’s a Delta pilot admitting his frustrations to CNN:
The crews don’t know what flight to do next, whether to go to the hotel, or fly to another city without the changes being made in the computer. And they can’t get through on the phones to find out, or even tell someone where they are.
And if you think this is an isolated pilot, please wander to AirlinePilotForums and see that it doesn’t seem to be. One even says the airline “threw in the towel.”
Here’s the caustic view of one contributor to the forum: “Why spend more money upgrading IT when you can buy back more shares or buy equity in more foreign partners?”
This is sounding dangerously like organizational, and, indeed, computational breakdown. Delta didn’t immediately respond to a request for enlightenment.
On its website, however, the airline insists that “operations are continuing to normalize.”
Another Delta employee told CNN that unlike last year’s complete computer failure at the airline, this time there was no reset. Without a total pause, the chaos was magnified.
Indeed, Delta’s COO Gil West gave a hint that the airline might just have been at fault here when he said: “We are grateful for your patience and want you to know that we, as always, learn from these experiences. While we can’t control the weather, we understand the resulting recovery has not been ideal and we apologize for that.”
Which doesn’t really help passengers all that much.
Indeed, one other aspect that might frustrate passengers is that Delta no longer has a reciprocal arrangement with, for example, American Airlines. This means it can’t transfer its passengers onto American flights that might actually be, well, flying.
Worse, look at the Delta Twitter feed and you’ll see a plethora of apologies and even an admission that the airline can’t cope with call volume. And that’s almost a week after the storms began.
One response on Sunday, though, indicates that what the anonymous staff have been revealing about the computer scheduling might, indeed, be true.
“I show DL #2395 is awaiting Flight Attendants which is the cause of delay. I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience,” admits Delta.
When asked by passenger George Reese where the flight attendants might be, the Delta Twitter feed replies: “My apologies, George. We don’t have further updates.”
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.