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PR Advice,Wine

Great PR Lesson… Delta Air Lines has learned that it’s far better to fix it fast than to let it fester

After expecting me to evaluate an otherwise excellent flight experience, Delta Air Lines was just asking for too many details, so I skipped to the end for the “comments” part. I wrote…

Additional Comments/suggestions for your experience at Ashville (AVL):

Yeah, yeah, yeah… everything was excellent, but… you need to hear/read this story. I will be using this comment on my wine blog (www.wine-blog.org), because I travel a good amount, and this is a good story…

My title: Great PR Lesson… Delta Air Lines has learned that it’s far better to fix it fast than to let it fester

[This is not a Delta plane. It was a plane that I photographed as we were also landing.]

My story that went bad… as it happened…

My final leg of my journey ended in San Francisco. As I walked off the Jetway, I heaved a huge sigh of relief, because everything had gone so well. I was caught by a fellow passenger. Knowing that I captured it for him, too, made us both chuckle. I walked to baggage pickup, knowing that when I got to that level, my driver would be waiting for me. There he was, holding a sign with my name on it. I was home free… almost. The last thing would be to get my bag and head north, where my cat would be waiting for me. As I got to the luggage carousel, my driver told me we were 20 minutes early. I didn’t know, I had been busy reading and sipping Wente’s Chardonnay. And, it seems that the carousel was also arriving early baggage.

My driver asked, “What does your bag look like?”

I said, “Oh that one’s going to be easy to spot. I have a box about this size,” and I made hand motions for a box that was about 18″ x 18.” I continued. “It’s indestructible. The airlines have destroyed so many of my bags, I decided to get one that they couldn’t break.”

So, we waited and waited and waited…. and no bag. finally, the next flight was announced. The carousel stopped for a few seconds, then started to get bags coming in from JFK,  versus my flight from AVL.

“Oh, poop,” I thought, “They’ve sent my bag elsewhere, and now I have to fill out one of those forms again.” In I went to the baggage office and patiently waited for the person with whom I would speak, as soon as she was free to talk to me. When she finished with the person in front of me, she looked at me and smiled, “May I help you?” I had just watched “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and was thankful that this wouldn’t be as complicated.

Yes, “I said, “I’ve just arrived, but my bag didn’t make it. It’s been sent somewhere else. I need your help.”

She pushed a form toward me, pointing to it. I said, “I can’t tell you which one of these is my bag, but my box doesn’t look like any of these bags. It’s just a box about, and I did the size visual again. she looked at me and said, “A box? A box? Does it look like this box?” I thought, “Isn’t that great. They decided that my box was so unusual that they sent it to the “unusual Box Room.” I’ve been there before to retrieve my cats and my dog. “Cool.”

She walked to my right, her left, to where luggage comes in… a corner. “Is this It?” she asked. I walked to the corner, so happy that it DID arrive, when what to my wondering eyes did appear, an indestructible smashed black box, and not tiny reindeer.”

What a laugh I had, because my driver was patiently waiting for me outside of this room as I filled out the necessary paperwork. He had no clue that I was inside having a great laugh.

Meanwhile, my Delta agent was waiting for me to say something that would be biting and perhaps even insulting… You know how Steve Martin reacted, right?

No “f” bombs… I was laughing at the irony and then beginning to wonder, what the heck was i going to do with all of this stuff. How was I going to get it home?

My agent was quick though. She said, I’ve got two bags that I can offer you. You can have one. One is 21 inches, and is a carry on. The other is 24 inches and isn’t a carry on. You’d have to check it on your next flights.”

(The 21-inch expandable vertical carry-on case in charcoal, I didn’t know what the 24-inch one was. I didn’t care.)

I said, “The 21-inch bag. I want one I can just bring with me.”

In she brought it… brand new, minus one tab for closing. I thought, “Oh they’ve got a deal for getting bags with imperfections. Great. Just like me.”

I emptied the contents of my smashed box into the new container. It all managed to fit, and off I went.

Several times I tried to thank my counter person, but she just ignored me. She was off to solve the next problem. I felt like she should have been wearing a Lone Ranger hat, and finally gave up trying.

Meanwhile, my driver had gone to get the car, so I could just move on, and I have with my new  Zer O Gravity bag.

The PR lesson… Delta did this one right, knowing the odds and hedging their bets, they left me in okay shape and wanting to share a good story, when most of the angry ones come across your Website.

Delta Air Lines NEXT fauxpas

…was to charge me $25 for my smashed bag. When it hit my bank account, I hit high “c.” so I wrote:

Are you really going to do that?

Response… (for the wrong issue of a lost bag, but still the result I wanted)

Please accept our sincere apologies for the difficulties you encountered when your luggage did not arrive with you on your recent trip. We realize it was a trying experience, and we regret that it happened.

Every precaution is taken to have a passenger’s luggage arrive on the same flight and in the same condition as when it was checked into our care. We normally succeed with few exceptions, and it is unfortunate that we were unable to meet your expectations on this occasion.

Our check in the amount of $25.00, to reimburse for the bag fee, will be mailed under separate cover. You should receive it within the next ten business days.

We appreciate, and thank you for, your choice of Delta to provide your air transportation and look forward to being able to welcome and serve you, once again, on board one of our flights. — Gary Tomlinson, Claims Manager, Consumer Affairs Baggage Delta Air Lines

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