Delta Air Lines refunded over 11 million tickets – totaling $ 6 billion – to customers since the beginning of 2020, according to a letter by CEO Edward Bastian. One-fifth of those refunds happened in 2022.
The airline has also taken other steps to improve passengers’ experiences when they are inconvenienced by delays or cancellations, including extra miles and modified schedules, he added in the letter.
“When strong travel demand resumed over the summer, we took action, making significant investments to ensure safe, efficient operational reliability and fast recovery when factors like weather and air traffic control disrupt our operation,” he wrote.
Bastian’s letter was sent to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday as a response to Buttigieg’s own letter sent to all airlines on Aug. 18.
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Prompted by the hectic summer of flight delays and cancellations, Buttigieg’s letter announced the Department of Transportation is creating an interactive dashboard for travelers to find “easy to-read, comparative summary information on the services or amenities that each of the large US airlines provide when the cause of a cancelation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control. ” The dashboard is expected to go live by Friday on the department’s Aviation Consumer Protection website.
“Second only to safety, Delta’s priority is to do right by our customers when delays or cancellations happen, regardless of the cause,” Morgan Durrant, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, told USA TODAY in an email. “The categories DOT’s dashboard lays out are aligned with our existing Customer Commitment and we’ve updated some of our language to be explicitly clear about the services and amenities we provide customers when they are inconvenienced. Our focus remains on providing industry leading operational reliability and customer service across our operation. “
What has Delta Air Lines done to improve travelers’ experiences?
“When passengers are inconvenienced, they deserve clear and transparent information and updates, as well as details about steps we’re taking to make things right,” Bastian wrote in the letter, which detailed what Delta has done since the pandemic to improve travelers’ experiences:
- Modified schedules “at our largest hubs and updated airport procedures, including earlier domestic boarding, to help drive more on-time departures and successful connections.”
- “Right-sized” their flight schedule and gave crews buffer times to make up for summer thunderstorms and air traffic control restraints.
- Delta has a policy to rebook customers on the next available flight “in the instance of a delay, cancellation, or irregular operation.” The flight can also be on another airline.
- Delta said there are “a variety of compensation including cash-equivalent gift cards and prepaid cards, vouchers, and miles in our SkyMiles Program” if the delay is caused by the airline. Compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Provided meals or meal vouchers for cancellations or delays of over three hours.
- Food and other amenities offered at gates with delays of over an hour.
- Travelers who experienced delays between May 1 and July 7 automatically received 10,000 miles in their SkyMiles Members accounts.
- New terminals at New York-LaGuardia and Los Angeles International Airport, as well as new facilities at New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Salt Lake City International Airport.
- To meet increased demand, Delta hired over 20,000 new employees since the start of 2021.