Long story short... Here is my letter to Delta Airlines
To Whom It May Concern,
If this letter goes ignored by your company then we will alert every PR and Media resource available until proper action is taken.
On November 23rd, 2010 at 9:10am Melissa Disabato, Kyle Claiborne, Jared Spencer, Blair Andrews and I (Sydney Russell) arrived at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport accompanied by our internship supervisor Mrs. Teresa Shan for our scheduled flight that was to depart at 11:15am. This time was on the itinerary that we printed out directly from Delta Airlines email confirmation.
When we arrived at the Delta check in counter a Mr. Huang Ling Ji, stated that we missed our flight. We assumed that there was a communication error due to the Chinese-English language barrier and protested that we have not missed our flight, that our itineraries clearly have 11:15am on them and that we would like to check in for our flight.
He quickly collected our itineraries and said that there is was no flight at 11:15am, it is at 10:10am and security has closed. At this point we were very unhappy and insisted that there must be an urgent check in process that is available. Mr. Huang Ling Ji just repeated himself and stated that it is not his fault and we will have to wait until the next day for another flight. We then asked to speak to the Manager on duty and Mr. Huang Ling Ji first questioned why we wanted to speak to the manager and after 10 minutes he said that the manager will come after the plane takes off. This was unacceptable because we needed to be on that plane and talk with the manager as soon as possible. The manager never came.
Instead two of us talked to some man on Mr. Huang Ling Ji’s cell phone who claimed to be the manager, yet would not give us his name, and he simply repeated what Mr. Huang Ling Ji said and then hung up on us.
At this point it was now 9:50am, 30 minutes had passed, and a problem that started with a typo on the itinerary now became an issue of blatant disrespect. Our time was wasted. Mrs. Teresa Shan who is a Chinese citizen and who had been witnessing these events started to protest our poor treatment and Mr. Huang Ling Ji responded back to Mrs. Teresa Shan, “You are Chinese! You should be on our side not theirs”. We were all appalled. This now became an issue of deliberate nationalism and unequal treatment. Because we were young American Hospitality and Tourism Management students from Purdue University trying to fly home after living and working in Nanjing, China for the past five months at the Jinling Hotel we were not considered important? Did we not deserve proper customer service? This is what you train your employees to do?
At this point we started taking detailed notes of how we were being treated, took pictures of your staff not serving us instead many of them were scowling at us and we wrote down the names of the workers on duty at that time (some refused to give us their names). We stood at the desk while your employees sat around and had their “Daily Meeting.”
Your employee, Mr. Huang Ling Ji, gave us no options for ratifying your companies mistake, refused us entry on the plane that was not scheduled to leave for another 50 minutes (when we first arrived) and ignored us until 10:10am when the plane that we needed to get on already left the airport. It was not until 10:14am that a Ms. Ying Hu, who I believe was not even an employee of Delta came to our aid and got us on a later flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:00pm.
Your company did absolutely nothing to ratify this situation; your employees offended us personally and caused us to miss our connecting flights to our homes in America. One of the interns, Melissa, risked missing her grandfather’s memorial service because of your companies scheduling error and my father had to arrange a new way to get me home to Cleveland, Ohio from Indianapolis, Indiana (my original destination point scheduled to arrive at 4:35pm was changed to 9:35pm due to a new 6 hour layover in New York).
We were given 60 rmb for food by your company to eradicate the situation but it could only be used in the terminal and by the time your company was done checking us in and finding us new flights it was 11:40am and we were rushed to security and straight on to the plane so we could not use the 60 rmb for food. They knew that we would not have time to use the vouchers and really just passed us on as if these crimes were never committed.
We were put on a China Eastern flight #587 which was an outdated plane, our seats were by the bathroom and they were not the same level of accommodations that we initially reserved and paid for from Delta. A flight that was initially 10 hours was now 14 hours because we had to connect in New York when our original flight connected us in Detroit, MI.
All of this could have been avoided if your employee, Mr. Huang Ling Ji, did what Ms. Ying Hu did when we first arrived at the airport at 9:10am. It was possible for us to go on the 10:10am flight but he refused us entry, never ratified the situation and then committed unfair treatment.
All five of us will make sure that the heads of our Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Purdue University, the Dean of our school and the President of our university receives a full report of your company’s treatment of its customers and we will make sure that no study abroad program through Purdue University flies Delta Airlines again.
Thank you for this experience because as Hospitality majors we learned firsthand exactly how to not treat a customer. Your company’s actions will be used as real life case studies in our curriculum for now on.