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Continental_Drifter Apr 27th, 2011 10:52 PM

Big D - Please get an emergency plan together.
I had until 11:00pm Eastern to book some award tickets tonight. At around 7:00pm, I started. The website errored out and would not let me confirm them, as I was booking more than four tickets at once. I was booking five from two different FF accounts. It instructed me to call.

So, I called. And called. And called.

I called and eventually had THREE phones on speaker on hold. One was to the FF line. One to the regular line and one to the internet support line. After 1:23, the power blinked out from the storms and I had to start two of the calls over. The one on the cell phone continued, someone answered and then immediately hung up.

I redialed all of the numbers. After 1:52 minutes, the phones all went dead and switched to a dial tone - at the same time. A phone system glitch or re-set?

So, I started again. This time, it took 2:48 minutes!! A rather surly city-dweller answered the phone with a big city attitude. I tried to be as sweet as possible, commiserate with her about all the storm cancellations, etc. She rather tersely told me that my tickets had cancelled on 4/27 - and I agreed. They cancelled/expired during the total of SIX HOURS on hold.

A mere six hours later, I was able to book my tickets, only to be told that I now owed $25 PER TICKET as a ticketing assist fee! WHAT? After six hours of trying to complete a simple transaction because their online system wouldn't book more than four tickets at a time together? She did waive it, but made sure I knew that she was doing ME a favor.

So, Big D - Please do something about controlling your call volume and hold times. Please also do something to carry over reservations so that they don't expire during high call/traffic times. Sure, this was an emergency and unusual for Big D, but come on.

You guys SURELY have the resources to do a better job than this!

NoFlyZone Apr 28th, 2011 03:40 AM

Major storms throughout a third of the country with over 150 dead so far and YOU are being inconvenienced when trying to get FREE tickets?

"Sorry for the inconvenience."
-- God

Continental_Drifter Apr 28th, 2011 07:45 AM

I'm not insensitive to the situation. We have a tree on the roof of the house. We were bunkered down in our basement along with the rest of Georgia the entire time I was on hold. I'm sure that you know that Big D has call centers in many, many locations including Salt Lake City and Dallas, among others. Not only that, but they are relied upon to operate world-wide, not just in the US and certainly not just in the southeast.

The point was not about the tickets, but the airline's inability to staff up during a high activity period. If I couldn't get through, neither could anyone else. It's poor management of their call volume or they are understaffed and ill prepared for this type of event. That's the issue.

There are solutions. Big D can increase staffing. This morning, they are providing an option in which their automated system will call you back within 22 to 38 minutes. I'll take that. Also, Big D could easily suspend the cancellation time when call volumes are this high. At the very least, there should have been no question as to whether the $25 fee per ticket would be applied.

Not only that, but this morning, I learned that she did not properly apply one of the tickets to the same record. That's what prompted me to call this morning.

Incidentally, those tickets were anything but FREE. They were earned over a VERY long time purchasing thousands and thousands of dollars while at the same time being a loyal consumer of this airline.

My point was, while my issue was not that pressing in light of what we NOW know (didn't know how bad it was going to be at 7:00pm last night, did we?) to be a horrific tragedy of storms last night, other airline customers were trying to get through to the airline for other and likely more pressing reasons.

Big D should be better prepared and staffed up during times requiring additional service. That's all.

Jeff_Costa_Rica Apr 28th, 2011 11:56 AM

Who in the world is this "Big D" that you're railing against? The city of Dallas? That's the only "Big D" I know.

rkkwan Apr 28th, 2011 02:37 PM

If you are so concerned about those other customers with "more pressing reasons", you wouldn't be holding up 3 of their lines for hours.

Next time, don't wait until last moment to do your all important business. Bad things can and usually happen, with the karma of yours.

gail Apr 28th, 2011 03:43 PM

There is no way any business can staff for an unexpected peak business time when thousands of people need to deal with weather-realated cancellations. Plus people who tie up 3 customer service lines because they waited until 4 hours before they needed to attention.

Really curious about the "city-dweller" comment. City and rural residents can be equally rude - and it is so irrelevant to your complaint that it has wondering what was going on.

Continental_Drifter Apr 28th, 2011 05:33 PM

Jeff - It's an airline forum.... It's an airline that starts with D.

rkkwan - There was nothing "last minute" about my request. I called at noon and they were holding the tickets until midnight while I transferred miles from one account to the other. When I got home from work, the miles had posted and I called to issue the ticket.

gail - I work in the insurance industry. Our offices are handling 700 times our normal call volume right now with the recent series of storms. Our call center wait times have increased from less than a minute to an average of 4.3 minutes. We have a catastrophe management plan for precisely this sort of situation. By tomorrow, we'll have the wait time down to 3.1 minutes. We handle the increase in volume without fail and address our customers' critical concerns. They're not just stranded at an airport somewhere. Everything they own is gone. There's no food, no water, no sanitary facilities. They don't even have a wallet and their calling with a single bar left on their cell phones. They haven't eaten since yesterday. Their neighbors are dead. They don't have homes, cars and are missing loved ones.

Just as other industries are prepared to staff up when there is an event, so can Big D. We knew days before the storms hit that they were forming and on their way based on plain old weather modeling. They need to check the weather and be prepared.

So, if Big D has offices in other areas than the southeast, they should be able to handle the increase in call volume in less time.

As to the city dweller comment, it refers to the accent, partial pronunciation of words, attitude and speech pattern of the representative on the phone. That's all. I was glad to get anyone on the phone at that point. And why was it all so important to get done without cancelling? Come on, you guys understand that.... car reservations, deposits on a villa and train tickets.

julia1 Apr 28th, 2011 05:46 PM

Well, stuff happens. And this time it happened to you. Too bad, but that's the way life is. You're looking to vent, I get that. But you won't find a lot of sympathy here when you come across as tone-deaf to the real problems others are facing. Speaking of attitude...

rkkwan Apr 28th, 2011 05:51 PM

The OP's criticism about DL has "some" merits - we can argue forever how much backup is enough, etc.

But tying up 3 phone lines all night, and wasting his own time staying up all night; plus working himself to a dizzy. Especially since he knew it was already past midnight anyways. That's really something. Wouldn't just go to bed and call back next day and explained that their phone system won't go through has the same results?


Continental_Drifter Apr 28th, 2011 06:19 PM

Fair question - We were up that late due to the tornado coming through our area and were watching the news reporting on the storms. It was easy enough to put the phone on speaker while we heard the tree crash onto the back porch. There was nothing else we could do.

CarolA Apr 28th, 2011 06:32 PM

Get over yourself. There is no airline out there that would have done any better.

CarolA Apr 28th, 2011 06:37 PM

Hit return to soon

Has it occurred to you that "Big D" employees were impacted too.

It is an airline. The ability to book your ticket is not a life or death matter that requires that type of turnaround. And, as has been pointed out, people like you tying up all the lines just made the situation worse. No airline staffs for their callers to use multiple phone lines.

Continental_Drifter Apr 28th, 2011 06:52 PM

One more thing... having three lines to different departments holding does not increase the burden on the reps handling the calls. Those calls on hold are ONLY in the queue for different departments.... Premium FF mile line, regular reservations line and internet support. It was highly likely that any one of those would refer me to one of the others and my wait time would increase also. When one answered and I dropped off the others, it did not relieve the burden of calls. It just moved the queue. No more labor required.

And no - I'm betting that the Bid D employees in Salt Lake City or one of those other offices were NOT directly impacted by the storms.

But to your point - it is an airline. Not an insurance company.

I actually don't even care if they answer the phone faster. I just want them to suspend the automatic cancellation of tickets on hold in their system if they encouter this kind of situation again.

madgicsh Apr 28th, 2011 06:57 PM

I'm also confused about "Big D" - you will probably be surprised to know that regular travellers come from many countries and are intimately familiar with their own airlines, NOT those of the USA. Could you enlighten me please so I can be sure NEVER to book with "Big D"?

mrwunrfl Apr 28th, 2011 07:29 PM

The Big D was revealed by rkkwan to be DL -- Deutsche Lufthansa.

No, seriously: DL = Delta Airlines.

lcuy Apr 28th, 2011 09:59 PM

Actually I'm laughing at myself. Yesterday, i needed to call Continental about an upcoming trip, and had no idea why it took 20 minutes on hold (on the elite line!) to get an agent.

I hadn't seen any news in the previous 24 hours, so had no idea!!

gail Apr 29th, 2011 03:43 AM

The difference between your insurance company and airline is that your insurance company is making huge profits (they all are) and therefore have the resources to staff for emergencies. (Still want someone to start my "Pay 20% more airline and get comfort and service" - but as long as people demand impossibly low airfares, this is the level of non-service we will get. One has the choice of multiple insurance companies - there is real competition - so customers would not put up with non-service. For most travels, there are 1-3 airlines, giving them essentially a monopoly.

While I still think your complaint is mostly unwarranted, I agree on a few points. First, airline customer service is staffed to encourage people to do everything on-line. But it seems to me that there are too many tasks that are not doable on-line (like changing flights when one is cancelled) and various FF tasks.

NoFlyZone Apr 29th, 2011 04:11 AM

C_D one other thing you fail to realize is that you seem to be placing most or all of the "blame" on Delta's failure to adequately staff.

Well, it was *you* who was more directly impacted by the storms, and in your area. I would think there was just as much trouble getting a call out of Georgia to wherever. The phone companies were contending with outages, physical failures, and call overloads so it is quite possible that your calls never even reached Delta.

Rather, never reached a Delta facility which could actually answer. Very probably you reached Delta in ATL, got a hello message and then the equipment tried to transfer you to, say, SLC. But there was no way to move the call. So airline staffing, in this example, is irrelevant. Please don't cast aspersions on one company when it was an extreme event.

madgicsh May 1st, 2011 01:31 AM

Oh thanks! Delta huh? Never even crossed my mind. We use Hawaiian to get to the USA but once on the ground I am too curious to fly - I have to drive and see it all. We have flown once from Minneapolis on Northwest, that was OK except it took me to Calgary; a HUGE mistake, but that's for another forum.

CarolA May 1st, 2011 07:12 AM

For those of you who are curious I fly out of Atlanta weekly and have NEVER heard this "Big D" before.

Please don't use it because unless you unfortuante enough to meet the OP, no one at the airline, airport etc will have CLUE what you are talking about.

Honestly, for those of you with TRUE travel emergencies I feel sorry for you, your wait time in the queue was increased because of people like OP tying up THREE lines (And despite his lecture on how it works, he's actualy not right. When DL goes to emergency procedures the queues do get intermingled to try to get folks helped ASAP! )

And now he's Staffing up and helping folks out. (Really, looks to me like he's still fighting with Delta LOL!)

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