I also had a story to tell, but figured it would be more appropriate to post as a Trip Report. I really should have posted this when it happened, but as I never got around to it, here it is, almost 2 years late.
I bought the ticket on CheapTickets.com (first mistake) and was routed FRA-EDI-ATL back in July of 2006 to go home from a business trip/vacation. I was working in Göttingen and visited friends in Dreieich, Erlangen, as well as in Austria in Salzburg and Linz. I had a birthday party to attend the night before going home, so I purposefully scheduled a late departure home to accommodate any unplanned excitement.
Sunday, 23 July 2006:
BMI 3480, operated by LH (forgot the flight number)
Dep. FRA: 11:40
Arr. EDI: 12:35
Drove from Dreieich to FRA at 09:00 via the deserted A661 and A3 Autobahns, dropped off the car at Sixt, and checked in at LH and received a boarding pass for the first leg of the trip only. I would have to pick up the onward leg’s pass at the Delta counter in Edinburgh. Not that bad though, since I was upgraded to Business Class on LH! Departed FRA on time and had a nice cold sandwich meal and Warsteiner beer in seat 1C. Arrived EDI bang on time in typical LH fashion and the 767 for DL97 was parked directly beside our A319 at the gate. I had approximately 75 minutes before departure of the onward flight home to Hot-Lanta, as it is known locally in the summertime.
Immediately after deplaning from the LH flight, I found an agent to ask about my connection to DL97. I was told that I had to clear immigration and customs first, as EDI was not equipped to handle such international connections from non-Schengen countries. Rushed to front of immigration line and then through customs since I had the claim stub to prove that my bags were checked through to ATL and through they would not appear on the belt anyway. Went directly to Delta's service desk (handled by a contracted ground services company, not DL) in the terminal and was told that I was about 20 minutes late for check in, as the counter closed 60 minutes prior to departure.
I explained to the agent that I had already been checked through to ATL and just needed my boarding pass, but was given the same explanation of EDI not handling international connections and that I was not checked in. Searched out the Delta check-in desk: same story, no boarding pass, no soup for you. Asked the Delta service desk agent as to how I was going to get home, and she basically said I'd have to stand by for the next Delta flight (once a day to ATL) or re-book on BA for approximately $10,000 on an EDI-LHR-JFK-LGA-ATL routing or something equally as obscene.
Upon her telling me that it was either that or spend the night and stand by for the next day’s DL97, I asked immediately for compensation vouchers. All she gave me was a food voucher for 5 GPB before shutting her desk for the day, as the flight had already departed. Well, that got me a coffee and a scone to nibble on while I sat down and made some phone calls home to my boss and family. My dad said it was cool that I was stranded in a city I’ve never been to. I agreed, half-heartedly. My boss gave me the run-around and basically grilled me with questions in an attempt to prove that I was trying to pull a fast one and continue my vacation on the company dime. Kind of a jerk thing to do, IMHO.
Anyway, the rest of the day was spent booking a room at a cheap but comfortable B&B in town (Rosebery Hotel, 20 min from EDI) through the VisitScotland tourism office at EDI, dropping off my luggage there, and exploring Edinburgh before retiring to the White Hart Inn pub on the Grassmarket. Good beer and a guy playing folk tunes and some covers on a guitar. I caught his name and remembered it- Graeme Pearson. Check him out- pretty good performer. I ended up meeting a pair of girls there who were on a backpacking trip and staying in a hostel somewhere. We decided to begin our own pub crawl with shots of Scotch and ended up at a dance club that was packed for a Sunday night. Fun?!
I don’t know how I managed to find my way home, but I walked 30 minutes back to the B&B-- quite drunk-- at about 2 in the morning and had no problem sleeping off the day’s twists and turns. I had actually almost forgotten about my predicament.
Monday, 24 July 2006:
Woke up late, a bit hung over, and generally got a later start to the day since DL97 departs at 13:45. Ate breakfast in the breakfast room and paid my 31 GBP to the family that runs the place before taking a the bus to EDI to get listed on the Delta flight 3 hours prior to departure, but it was overbooked and was told to wait and that I had a 1% chance of getting on board. Well, that translated into a 3 hour wait at the gate, culminating in me watching planes come and go, watching the daily Continental 757-200 from EWR arrive, and watch all pax board my desired flight and all standbys with higher status get the last seats. I think I had Non-Rev status- could that be? There was also one other guy who was obviously a backpacker trying to get home on the same flight. He had been stranded in EDI for 3 days.
Back to the drawing board here, which meant trying to get compensation for the room and/or sustenance. The lady at Delta knew me from yesterday and said they can’t give compensation for more than one day. I think it’s a load of crap, so I left and went out into the streets to begin begging and panhandling from passers-by.
Actually, I just visited the good-looking blonde girl at the tourist office again and had her book me the same room at the same B&B from the night before.
Rest of the day: same routine. A bit of touristy walking around (castle, shops, etc), spot of dinner (pizza and beer: about 15 GPB, or $30), and retiring to the White Hart for pints of local beer. This time, it was just a bunch of locals sitting by the fireplace playing traditional Gaelic folk tunes. I stayed for a bit and ended up heading back earlier than the day before in order to be there at the counter before they opened.
Tuesday, 25 July 2006:
Same routine as yesterday: packed up, ate, and bussed to EDI. I was first in line at check-in and was issued another STBY boarding pass as they checked my bag through to ATL again. I really had my fingers crossed this time, even though they said I should be getting home today, as there were some empty seats that were not spoken for yet.
After passing security and heading to the gate, I ended up picking up some gin and Walker's biscuits from Duty Free. If I wasn’t going to make this flight, at least I’d be well-provisioned for yet another day and night in EDI.
Boarding commenced at 12:30 and I sat in the lounge and watched everyone go ahead and board the flight. Lounge now empty, they called me up and gave me a boarding pass for 20A, which is an exit row. Unfortunately, Biz Elite was full of upgrades and Non-Revving Skymiles tourists, IIRC. Whatever, I happily accepted the offer and marched down the jetway.
Dep. EDI 13:45
Arr. ATL 17:40
Sat down in my exit row seat next to some drifter from Texas. Older guy, smelled like he hadn’t showered in days, and was quite jovial and chatty. Plus, being in the exit row, it was quite cold during the flight, so at least he didn’t sweat at all. We had a drink and I wanted to get some sleep, but the seat wouldn’t recline. So I sat upright and faked it with my eyes shut and blanket pulled over my head like a corpse. Anyway, it was a typical transatlantic Delta flight. The meal was forgettable, I got a free bottle of wine, and finished off with a vegetarian pizza before arrival. Routing took us over Greenland, landfall again over St. Johns or somewhere further north, followed by a due-south track over Detroit and Cincinnati, weaving through thunderstorms into ATL for on-time arrival.
By this time, I was pretty tired of dealing with people telling me what to do, so I got the hell out of ATL’s immigration and customs ASAP, which still took about an hour. International arrivals areas in ATL at 18:00 are a zoo with people arriving from all over Europe. But I was home, finally. And that whole delay in EDI cost me about $300 for two days’ layover caused by someone else.
1. Cheap Tickets sold the ticket with such a screwy routing from FRA to ATL via EDI. The airport was not equipped to make that connection possible. How did this get through the cracks? If anyone was to be faulted for this, it is CheapTickets. Of course, they have no customer service to speak of, and was basically told to sod off when I explained my situation in detail to them.
2. Don’t expect Delta’s contracted ground staff in foreign airports to be pleasant to deal with. If you get screwed in any way, you’re really left with nothing except being screwed (plus 5 GPB for a coffee and pastry).
3. Book a direct flight whenever possible, especially if services are limited (like Delta’s 1x daily to EDI being one of the 2 dailies to the USA).
4. If you are stranded, make the best use of your time if you’re in a cool city like Edinburgh. Recommend the White Hart Inn, which is actually the oldest pub in Edinburgh. The Rosebery Hotel was a basic, but cheap and comfortable guest house in a residential area. I didn’t pay for the castle tour, but saw plenty of it from the outside. Overall, I liked the city, and would like to visit it again (though by choice, not accident).
Maintain thine airspeed, lest the Earth rise up and smite thee.
Misbeehavin From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 914 posts, RR: 4 Reply 1, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6514 times:
Quoting Av8rDAL (Thread starter): I was told that I had to clear immigration and customs first, as EDI was not equipped to handle such international connections from non-Schengen countries... The airport was not equipped to make that connection possible. How did this get through the cracks?
Sorry to hear you had such a nightmare, but this doesn't quite make sense, because the UK is not part of the Schengen zone and has nothing to do with Schengen arrivals / connections / whatever. You were just connecting from one international flight to another... shouldn't have been an issue at all.
I've connected in EDI a couple of times... LCY-EDI-ATL on BA/DL and ATL-EDI-CDG on DL/AF. Though the first one was a domestic to international connection, it was basically the same deal for both: just go back upstairs after arrival. It was pretty painless. And each segment was on different reservations too. I'm not sure if they're designed to do international to international connections, because I just went through immigration since the line was really short.
I've used DUB a few times too and that airport definitely wasn't equipped to handle any international to international connections. I flew ATL-DUB-LCY and I just told the immigration agent that I was connecting to LCY... She just waved me through and told me I had to go past baggage claim, 'enter' Ireland and go back upstairs. Dublin Airport is a disastrous nightmare, but besides that, the actual "connection" was pretty easy.
DL Widget Head From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2062 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5795 times:
Quoting Av8rDAL (Thread starter): Cheap Tickets sold the ticket with such a screwy routing from FRA to ATL via EDI. The airport was not equipped to make that connection possible. How did this get through the cracks? If anyone was to be faulted for this, it is CheapTickets.
You're absolutely right. I don't see where DL should be blamed for any of this.
Quoting Av8rDAL (Thread starter): Don't expect Delta's contracted ground staff in foreign airports to be pleasant to deal with. If you get screwed in any way, you're really left with nothing except being screwed (plus 5 GPB for a coffee and pastry).
I think you were extremely fortunate and lucky to have gotten any compensation whatsoever from DL for something that was clearly not their fault.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 9 Reply 3, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5549 times:
I have to disagree with the poster about this not being Delta's fault.
yes, it is a ticket bought from cheapticket.com, but that does not relief Delta from the following responsibilities:
1. To notify the travel company or the passenger that there is no international to international connection or whatsoever, to prevent the company from booking an obscene routing like this one. Also Delta should not sell such a ticket if they do not input enough transit time into the EDI profile. All airports have minimum connecting times and if the minimum connecting time cannot be met, the itinerary is not bookable or that ticket cannot be issued.
2. It is a thru ticket (not two separate tickets), so Delta has its responsibility as well for not informing the travel company and the passenger about the lack of transit facilities at EDI. I don't care how cheap the ticket is. It is still a valid paid ticket.
It is just sad on how the airline industry fails so miserably, and sometimes you wonder how airlines find their third party handlers at foreign or domestic airports, and do these airlines audit these third party companies and provide the right training?
DL Widget Head From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2062 posts, RR: 5 Reply 4, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5412 times:
Quoting Carfield (Reply 3): 1. To notify the travel company or the passenger that there is no international to international connection or whatsoever, to prevent the company from booking an obscene routing like this
According to DL, the minimum connect time at EDI for INTL to INTL is 60 minutes. The poster's flight arrived at 1235 and the DL flight departed at 1345. This is a legal connection. Perhaps not the wisest connection considering that any delay could jepardize this legal connection.
Quoting Carfield (Reply 3): Also Delta should not sell such a ticket if they do not input enough transit time into the EDI profile.
DL did not sell the ticket...cheaptickets did.
Quoting Carfield (Reply 3): It is just sad on how the airline industry fails so miserably,
What's sad is when someone buys a ticket like this from some third party vendor instead of the airline itself with the bare minimum of connection time allowed and then when something goes wrong, wants to absolve themselves from making a bad decision and seek to blame the airline. All too common amongst passengers nowadays. This "obscene routing" although legal, but not advisable, was selected by the traveler. The onus is on him for making this decision.
Antdenatale From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 176 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (5 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5192 times:
Quoting DL Widget Head (Reply 4): What's sad is when someone buys a ticket like this from some third party vendor instead of the airline itself with the bare minimum of connection time allowed and then when something goes wrong, wants to absolve themselves from making a bad decision and seek to blame the airline. All too common amongst passengers nowadays. This "obscene routing" although legal, but not advisable, was selected by the traveler. The onus is on him for making this decision.
Sometimes we forget we have a little more knowledge than the average Joe on the street, to the average person, they do not care who they buy the ticket from, they are flying with LH or DL and that is the end of the matter as far as they are concerned. It is about time that airlines took responsibility for the actions of travel agents (on-line or face to face), far to often passengers are told that it is the fault with the booking source and go back to the travel agent. The airlines are quick enough to take the money and there should be some responsibility to help the passenger where ever possible.
Aswissinmad From Spain, joined Sep 2005, 148 posts, RR: 1 Reply 6, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4226 times:
I do not think it was Delta's fault. However, I believe LH had some sort of responsability, as they through-checked your bag, and they should normally have informed the next airline of you being checked-through. This is usually done by sending a telex to all the onward airlines so they can prepare the boarding pass for you to pick up and not give your seat away to some stanby's when they close the flight. When I worked for SR at the transit desk, this was done automaticlly by the system when the a/c got its chocks off. However not all airlines sent us that telex and when we had that kind of misconnex's we would send those pax to the originating carrier to deal with the problem.
Have you tried to speak to LH about it? DL was probably not even aware that you were coming from a connecting flight and so just (rightly) assumed you were a local noshow.
RP TPA From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 848 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 4171 times:
I also agree that what happened wasn't Delta's fault. The problem with the dot com travel companies is that they'll often sell you the lowest fare by booking 2 non-alligned carriers, but unknown to you the connections make it almost impossible to actually get from one flight to another. It's not uncommon to see 30-50 minute connections between 2 different airlines. For example, arriving at ORD on Air Canada, and then expecting to connect to AS in 35 minutes. I'm not sure what the exact time was, but it was a legal, albeit very tight connection. The problem is, AC might not be able to provide thru check in, so although the dot.com company gave you a "legal" connection, in reality you'd get to the AS tkt counter (or gate) perhaps 15 minutes before their flight and find it's closed for check in.
Ocracoke From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 662 posts, RR: 1 Reply 8, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4063 times:
The sad thing about the whole story is the way the DL contract people acted. It wasn't like the OP is a local, and is late for the flight. He is there. He is on time. His bags are probably alread in the hands of the DL people. Why not try to help him out?
Instead of being so tight about the time....oh, oh, it's under 60 minutes...too bad for you...can't fly....they should have tried their best to help him out. ESPECIALLY if the bags were already checked in.
They could have said: "Here's your boarding pass. But no guarantees. Run, Run, Run! I'll call the gate and let them know of your situation."
But instead, it sounded like a cold "tough luck, try again tomorrow." response.
In the USA, DL people would have bent the 'rules' to help this passenger out. That is what DL is famous for. Why are the contracted people around the world not able to bend those same rules, might I add again, ESPECIALLY since the bags were already in DL's hands?
Using such contract people is going to tarnish DL's image.
LH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 55 Reply 9, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3852 times:
I believe the limited airline responsibility would lie with the airline whose ticketing stock was used. Travel vendors like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, travel agents, etc sell the ticket but it's the airline who issues the ticket. So if your ticket number began with a 020 then it was on LH stock that the ticket was issued. If the first three numbers of your ticket began with 006 then it was on Delta stock. I'm not sure if IATA rules stipulate that the ticket number be shown on the e-ticket printout, but most companies do since it helps airlines find your e-ticket info in the case of rebookings etc.
While DL was under no obligation to accept you for the flight, I'd be kinda miffed that they made no effort whatsoever to help you on the flight. Chances are the flight was already full and they didn't want to deal with getting into a messy ordeal with a passenger (not say you're the demanding type but many are and things can get sticky, especially when you're in a grey area). Some people, even if they're clearly in the wrong, can get very difficult when it comes to those types of situations and things like full flights and denied boarding could come into play. Airlines can generally be accommodating, especially for check-in rules, unless it's not in their own interests and 1 hour in an airport like EDI (despite the heightened UK security procedures) is pretty generous. If it's not in their interests then the rules apply, no ifs, ands, or buts. So, I'd bet that's the reason they didn't even lift a finger to even TRY to let you on. And I know this because I used to work for an airline. We would do everything possible to get people on if we could, including re-opening the check-in to passengers on connecting flights as late as 20 mins before departure (for a long-haul, transatlantic flight).
Anyway, that's neither here nor there since it was two years ago almost. Nice part was you made the best of a bad situation and got to see a new city that, in my opinion, is one of the nicest in the world.
« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Av8rDAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 460 posts, RR: 2 Reply 11, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3625 times:
Quoting LH423 (Reply 9): While DL was under no obligation to accept you for the flight, I'd be kinda miffed that they made no effort whatsoever to help you on the flight.
Like I said before, this was a contracted ground services company handling the check-in and general customer service for DL. I think it was Servisair or something. I just think it was the lack of the agents' willingness to go the extra mile for helping a passenger make the flight. I was not belligerent like many people can be, and I understand there are rules. But since I was not the only one in this same situation, it obviously was a recurring problem, and it seemed as if they had no intention to solve it or even acknowledge it.
All I can say here is to make sure your connection times are at least 90 minutes unless you know you can make it (familiar with airport, airline, route, etc.).
Maintain thine airspeed, lest the Earth rise up and smite thee.
Av8rDAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 460 posts, RR: 2 Reply 12, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3615 times:
Quoting Ocracoke (Reply 8): In the USA, DL people would have bent the 'rules' to help this passenger out. That is what DL is famous for.
Maybe in the "Golden Days" of airline flying, but I would beg to differ today.
My family took a vacation to Hawaii last summer on SkyMiles. There were four of us, flying ATL-SLC-OGG, departing ATL on an 08:30 departure to SLC. Flight was overbooked, so DL automatically gave us "seat request" boarding passes to bring to the gate agent (even though we were checked in at 07:00. We were essentially told that unless other pax did not volunteer for the next flight, we would be automatically bumped off. Which would have made us miss the connex in SLC to Maui, thus screwing up our vacation. Long story short, we got seats, but were the last on the plane. The onward flight to OGG was packed 100%. Summer loads would probably have had us waiting in SLC for days to get to the beach, had we not been so lucky.
I am not familiar with the priority system here, but logic suggests that since we were essentially non-revving, would SkyMiles pax be the first to be cut? If so, what a way to treat your loyal customer.
If that's the service that is Delta's domestic product in addition to contracting to who-gives-a-sh*t ground service companies, then no wonder we are seeing drops in demand for airline seats during the vacation season. Many people see the whole experience as a mess. I still believe in Delta, but only a couple of bad experiences tarnish the whole image in my view.
Maintain thine airspeed, lest the Earth rise up and smite thee.
Widget1580 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 344 posts, RR: 15 Reply 13, posted (5 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3412 times:
Quoting Av8rDAL (Reply 12): My family took a vacation to Hawaii last summer on SkyMiles. There were four of us, flying ATL-SLC-OGG, departing ATL on an 08:30 departure to SLC. Flight was overbooked, so DL automatically gave us "seat request" boarding passes to bring to the gate agent (even though we were checked in at 07:00.
They did not AUTOMATICALLY give you seat request cards. You should have secured seat assignments when you booked the tickets - whether they were together or not. When the agent/kiosk checks you in they have to assign you a seat and if it can't then they do not have a choice you WILL get put on the list. The agent or kiosk cannot even assign blocked seats because the gate agent has control of them.
You were NOT nonrevving - you paid for your tickets with your miles. The priority list is in order of booking class. The agent will work with the upgrade list and standby list together - odds are ATL-SLC had a pretty big upgrade list so they will upgrade their PM/GM/FO's and then release their seats along with anyone else who has not checked in and then assign people on the standby list whatever is left over.
Quoting Av8rDAL (Reply 12): I still believe in Delta, but only a couple of bad experiences tarnish the whole image in my view.
Yeah okay - and last time I checked United still flew the DC-8. Especially after starting a thread like this - you clearly had no other point other than to trash Delta. Certainly not a perfect airline - give up looking for an excuse to hate them, sounds like you found plenty of reasons. This is as fake as they come.