The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Customer Service

Tomorrow morning, I'm flying to Washington on the Delta Shuttle. I had booked a 10:30 a.m. flight on line a couple of weeks ago without realizing that OYS will be returning to Israel that same morning. Last night, I tried to change the reservation to the 11:30 flight (my first meeting in Washington isn't until 2:30 p.m.)

I tried to change the flight on line but that didn't work so I called the number on the website.

Not surprisingly, I was greeted with a lovely voice that asked me a bunch of questions. New reservation or existing? Domestic or international? Record Locator code? I was then transferred to a real human being (probably someone in India judging from the accent) who then started from scratch, leading to the conclusion that none of the information I had given to the lovely voice had actually been captured and that that whole exercise was some sort of Kabuki dance.

Nevertheless, I was happy to be speaking to a real live human and, once I gave her the record locator, she was able to easily change my reservation. As I was about to sign off, she said, "The change in the reservation will cost $492."

Inasmuch as the original round trip fare was about $280, to change one leg of the reservation would have cost more than 3 times the original fare. I said "no thank you", confirmed that my original reservation was still intact, hung up, and then arranged for a car service to take OYS to JFK tomorrow morning since I would not be around and MHW will be caring for TT (and, anyway, does not have the stomach for any more children-leaving-to-Israel-airport-scenes).

(A digression. Back in the day, one could simply show up for the shuttle without a reservation and they guaranteed you a seat, to the extent that they would role out a new plane if they couldn't seat you on the first plane. When did that go the way of the do do bird?)

Two questions for Delta:

Why make me go through the voice-recognition Kabuki dance if you won't use the information? It's annoying.

Why didn't the "customer service rep" tell me immediately that it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to change the reservation? We could both have saved a lot of time.

(A third question. Why does it cost three and a half times more than the original fare to change the reservation?)

Enquiring minds want to know.



  • At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You could always cancel your reservation and take Amtrak. It's 3.5 hours door-to-door, probably just as quick as flying, all told, and less uncertain, and about 100 bucks (more if you take the express Acela). And, if you purchase your ticket online, it's very easy to cancel, penalty-free. I think that if you haven't printed out your physcial ticket at the station yet by departure time, your trip is automatically canceled and the money refunded.


  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I often use the accella when I leave from Manhattan. Since I'm coming from home, it's actually more like 5 hours because I need to take the train into penn station (and leave time to switch trains).

    And, although the Accella is very comfortable and I get a lot of work done, it's not exactly the most reliable service either.


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