Report: #76091

Complaint Review: Delta Air Lines

  • Submitted: Mon, December 29, 2003
  • Updated: Mon, January 24, 2005
  • Reported By: lexington Kentucky
  • Delta Air Lines
    1050 DELTA BLVD
    Atlanta, Georgia

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

This is in response to Delta Airlines indifference. My 17-year-old daughter, flew into the Atlanta airport on the evening of August 11, from London England ending her first international travel. Upon exiting customs, she realized she left her video camera, a Cannon ZR60, on the plane. She was one of the last people to exit. J. ran back to customs and tried to get one of the agents to let her back onto the plane. Custom's refused her request.

They sent her to the Delta ticket station who then referred her to Delta's Lost & Found. At Lost & Found she was told to fill out a Baggage Tracing Information form upon her arrival in Lexington; which she did. Needless to say, the camera was never found. Her pictures and personal thoughts; gone.

Your personnel's lack of concern, culminated in her camera, a Cannon ZR60, disappearing. What was a trip of a lifetime turned into major disappointment, frustration and anxiety because of your employee's disconnect toward J. J knew exactly where the camera was(see the form). One phone call to the arrival/departure gate would have recovered her camera. Instead, she had to nervously wait, while she flew into Lexington from Atlanta, to fill out a tracer request for the camera. In the Lexington Lost & Found, the lady reassured her camera could be recovered. She said that the cleaning people would have to enter the plane and prepare it for the next flight to Frankfort Germany. J's hope was shot down 1 week later when she was told that if the camera wasn't found after a week, write it off and try to collect on your insurance.

If J had experienced cooperation and concern instead of employee apathy and detachment, her arrival home would've been full of joy and happiness. Instead she was overwrought and worried.

I don't know how you get individuals to go beyond their job descriptions and show concern. I realize the security of the plane and its passengers are foremost in today's national climate. But I do understand what being a Good Samaritan is and going beyond ones job duties, even if it might cause a supervisor some anxiety. What could have been a climatic event to a wonderful lifetime experience turned into a jaded teenager trying to understand what exactly is customer service. Please consider the consequences of apathetic employees

lexington, Kentucky
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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Allowed back on plane??

AUTHOR: Elizabeth - (U.S.A.)

To the person who was allowed back on the plane to receive his lost article (on an international flight, no less!)

Either you are lying, or the person who let a PASSENGER, with NO FAA identification or authority, back on a plane should have been fired and fined, because that is against FAA regulations even on domestic flights!!

The agent themselves (as stated in a couple of other posts) may be able to get back on, but you have to have a certain type of security badge to get on a jetbridge, plane, jetway, or any other secure area after it has been cleared. Even domestically. I must admit that I have not worked on any international flights for some time, but the procedures for DOMESTIC flights prohibit passengers and other non-ID'd individuals from secure areas and would DEFINITELY prohibit that passenger from re-entering. That's DOMESTIC. I'm sure international is even more stringent.

As a matter of fact, I have had passengers who left their gate-checked strollers at the end of the jetbridge, they walk through the door into the gate lobby, and that's it-- they have cleared a secure area. They are NOT allowed back down the jetbridge, even if their item is in sight. An AGENT with a valid ID has to go get it for them. In addition, while I go down the jetbridge to get that passenger's item (whether it was on the plane, or even on the jetbridge itself), ANOTHER agent WITH ID MUST stand at the doorway to the jetbridge if it is still open, to ensure security.

I have, fortunately, retrieved many items and returned them to their happy owners personally. People have left things at the ticket counter and I have run all the way to the gate to give it to them. Sometimes people forget things and they are all the way outside security and we find something like a cellphone, a hat or scarf, etc, on the plane. We call baggage service to see if the person is still there, we page the person if there is a name on the item. If we cannot locate the person, we tag the item with the flight number, date, seat number, as much information as possible. If we have a name for the item, we look up the record and call the person at their contact phone.

Once, there was a cellphone left on an incoming plane, and we could not locate the person at baggage service. It rang a while later and I noticed it said "Mom" and an out-of-state number. I knew "Mom" would probably be worried, so I picked up the phone, identified myself as the airline's employee, and told her we had the phone, asking her what the name of the passenger was, etc. She was able to call the person who was picking the passenger up on THEIR cellphone and they came back to the airport. The person got it back! So cool.

Lastly, I must say that it is not always the "nefarious and evil" cleaning crew or airline employees who pocket such items and don't report them... it can very well be another passenger on the plane who takes the item. Indeed, that is a much more likely scenario, as any employee would be in the company of any number of other employees who are cleaning, doing security checks, maintainance people, pilots and flight attendants, etc. It would take alot of doing to tuck a camcorder into one's shirtsleeve with everyone around like that, but very easy for a passenger who has a few other carry ons anyway.

No, J could NOT get back through security (much less customs!) or onto the plane. I am still flabbergasted and wonder at which airport and on which airline the other fellow was allowed back on the plane because I would be inclined to report it to the FAA! There are fines of several thousand dollars for such violations!

Not knowing as much of international procedures, there is a possibility in J's case that airline personnel could not get back on the plane at that time. But even if customs or security or FAA officials or cleaning crew was aboard, perhaps they could have been contacted?

I am willing to wager that some attempt was made to find her camcorder... it may have been half-hearted or incomplete (like, oh well, we're done with this plane and security is on board nothing I can do) or the like. It may be that someone with authorization WAS able to reboard the plane and search for the item and it was gone already. (again, most likely and sad scenario is that it was a fellow passenger, but that is just my opinion). It may also be that the item was found but the ball was dropped and with the thousands of items that get left on planes every day (you wouldn't believe it) it got lost in the shuffle and never got connected to this particular passenger.

I empathize and feel bad for J, as I have lost many things myself. However, security is first and foremost. Customer service is a VERY crucial part of my job, but I would not risk thousands of my own dollars and a job that I love by breaching security. I WOULD, and HAVE, done everything in my power to retrieve any item in this situation. I would hope that any other employee would do the same, but again, sadly, that is not the case. At many airlines (again, happily, not mine) there are many "shrug the shoulders" type of employees who couldn't care less and don't try very hard. But there ARE those of us who do!!!

If you lose something on a plane or in the airport, speak with someone as soon as possible. If they seem indifferent or dismissive, find someone else (even at another position) who will make some effort. But be aware that many many items that people have lost are NOT on the plane, even IMMEDIATELY after passengers have disembarked, or even while they are still getting off the plane!

Unfortunately, there are alot of dishonest people in this world who would take that camera without a second thought. I have lost *ONE* glove before, knowing exactly where I dropped it, gone there minutes later, and not gotten it back (I mean, who wants ONE GLOVE?? Is Michael Jackson in the area?). I have, through my own carelessness, lost cameras, wallets, money, you name it. I have had things very definitely stolen from me as well. It sucks.

On the other hand, at our airline, and I am CERTAIN even more so at the larger airlines, there is an entire locked room FULL of lost items: phones, cameras, clothing, books, laptops (!), etc. etc. YOU NAME IT, IT'S THERE. We try very hard to identify and locate who it might belong to, but sometimes that is impossible (if it is left at the ticket counter, in the gate area, in an overhead compartment over a seat where the person may or may not have been sitting). Perhaps if she pursued it a bit further, someone might "find" it in one of those "lost" rooms... maybe it was mistagged or she didn't get the right person who would really look for it.

You would NOT BELIEVE how many items are left by people and they never claim them or we cannot find the proper owner (and we try really really hard too!). Seriously, you WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT. Give it another shot.

Good luck and remember "check underneath your seats, in your seat back pockets, and in overhead compartments for your belongings". They are your responsibility.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Who is at fault

AUTHOR: Andre - (U.S.A.)

I am not a Delta Employee. I was briefly employed by one of its subsidiaries and was raised on Delta Airlines.

I was a Gate Agent for Atlantic Southeast Airlines untill my untimely termination with the airline for reasons that I can not discuss here. I will try to make a few valid points in this forum about the problem mentioned.

I have on many occasions assisted passengers retrieve lost items from inbound aircraft. I once helped a very distrought passenger flying to Grennsboro, NC from Sydney Austrailia via Los Angeles and Atlanta. This woman had been working on a presentation during her travel and left her notebook in the seat pocket of her Business Elite seat. I exausted all efforts to help her to retreive her computer. The aircraft was scheduled to fly to London in an hours time. The only reason that I was able to board that aircraft was that customs had not yet cleared it and I had a person that was cleared by customs to board the aircraft with me. Had the aircraft been cleared by customs I would not have been able to board the aircraft and retireve the passengers computer. She was very greatful and vowed to fly Delta again. That made me feel good.

I can not vouch for the agent that assisted the 17 year old girl that flew in from London. Yes there are several security issues involved. However if the assisting agent had been willing to help he or she would have been able to have the camcorder retrieved from the aircraft.

On the other hand this agent did what is required by the airline. The passenger inadvertantly left her camcorder on the aircraft and did not realize it until after she cleared customs. By that time the aircraft would have been screened and probably in the process of being catered and cleaned for its next flight to Frankfurt Germany. No London Gatwick Airport is not a (High Risk) Airport per sey but it is indeed a very large gateway airport. We can never be complacent and let security become second in our thought process. Airlines, Airports and Passengers depend on it for thier own safety. International flights usually have a 55 - 65 minute turn around before it boards for its next departure it usually takes 30 - 45 minutes for a person to clear customs. Realistically speaking the camcorder would have not been there or the next flight would have already been boarding. It is unfortunate that the young lady lost her camcorder. I dont think it ruined her trip. I personally lost a very expensive digital camera on a flight that I was on because I was careless and forgot it because I was taking pictures in flilght. Do I feel bad? Yes. who is at fault? Myself. Did I blame anyone else for my loss? No. Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on the subject.
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#3 Consumer Comment

Seasoned corporate business travelers know

AUTHOR: George - (U.S.A.)

Your daughter experienced what is called "Traveling while "blank" in Atlanta"

Seasoned corporate business travelers know that to get any help whatsoever from Delta or any other airline or business in Atlanta airport one must find and solicit the help of a "a person not native to Atlanta"

I had the same experience with my wallet which slipped out of my pocket on a Delta flight. Was getting nowhere with a series of three "Atlanta natives" and then finally asked a "non Atlanta native" who walked on the plane and retrieved my wallet. Same story on several other occasions when I needed help with a missed connection etc. You're wasting your breath until you find the non Atlanta native. No problems in other airports!

Sad but that's the way it is.
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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

truth is the DL agents don't want to be bothered

AUTHOR: Dr. Derek - (U.S.A.)

It is very annoying how airline personnel blame "9/11" for their myriad customer service lapses -- As the former Delta employees have stated, it is not an urgent security issue for a customer to retrieve their personal property. The truth is the DL agents don't want to be bothered with fetching it.

And the moron who blamed the young girl's "privileged" upbringing for her forgetting her camcorder is just specious not to mention ridiculous. My mother makes $18,000/y and still sent my sister to Europe this summer (and yes, with a $200 camcorder BIG DEAL).

Having worked for an airline company many years ago when I was a young boy, I can tell you the camera most likely would've been stolen already had a DL agent gone on board to retrieve -- and how could they have explained that?
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#5 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Thomas - (U.S.A.)

Personally I think Tom is
A: full of crap;
B: does not know fact from fiction;
C: does not fly internationally or

I on the other hand do fly internationally every month and a few months ago I was nice enough to change seats with a lady so she could sit with her other family members. (They were not able to get adjoining seats and the attendant that asked me if I would change was a knock-out.) When I got off the plane I had left my bag with a camera and mp3 player on the plane since I had forgot to move it when I moved my other handbag to my new seat. Everyone was off the plane and I had made it to Passport Control when I realized this mistake.

I went back to the gate and they allowed me on the plane to get my bag which was still there. So Tom is wrong when he states that after you leave the plane you cannot get back on the plane. Unless I just look less threatening than a 17 year old girl. The problem with this little girl is not that she had gotten off the plane but the fact the she was at customs which means that she had already cleared Passport Control. So it was Passport Control that would not let her back out of the country to check the plane. Could a delta representative have checked the plane? Again Tom is wrong. Most assuredly a Delta Rep. could have checked the plane but it was not that person's camera so they did not give a darn.

As to Bob crying like a baby that he cannot understand privileged 17's getting to fly to Europe. Well get a job and maybe you can go to Europe or try to support your family since it is apparent that you cannot afford to send your kids to Europe. You did not ask how she afforded to go to Europe. Maybe school function, family paid, bought online for $499 (boy is that a lot of money!!) or maybe she worked at McDonald's and saved to go on the trip. No you just assumed that because she went to Europe that she is a Wealthy, Privileged, and Spoiled Kid because your sorry a*s is too lazy to get a good job and give your kids a good life.

Well hate to tell you Bob but I have offered to send my 13 son to different places overseas for vacations and he is so wealthy, privileged and spoilt that he just gets me to give him money and then tags along with me to Disney World (Like I really want to go to Disney World but it makes him happy).

I am disappointed that this person's vacation has been lost from this occurrence and nothing can be done about it now but hopefully in time she will get to go back to Europe and forget about the loss. I can understand how it happened because when you are flying to Europe flying after 6 pm most of the flight is in darkness and you can sleep. Flying from Europe it is daytime the whole trip and I never can sleep. I get here and everyone is fighting to get off the plane to be first in line for Passport Control and I am sure she was excited to be home. This is too bad and I wish her the best in the future.
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#6 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Delta should have helped

AUTHOR: Mary - (U.S.A.)

I am a former Delta International arrivals gate agent based out of JFK. This type of occurance hapened daily. While customs does have to clear a flight. A DL flight out of Gatwick does not have the customs alert that one out of high drug/terrorist nation would. I spent half my time at Kennedy running back to aircraft to retrieve personal belongings from passports- to diaper bags. Once even to get a set of dentures. I am really sorry for your daughter. To lose her pictures must have been horribly traumatic. If you are still fighting w/ Delta for compensation. You should bring up the fact that if it were her passport their ATL staff would have had to retrieve it quickly.
Again, please accept my most sincere sympathies.
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#7 Consumer Comment

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM delta airlines.

AUTHOR: Gary - (U.S.A.)

delta has to be one of the worst airlines, next to UAL OR AA in customer service or anything else.


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#8 Consumer Comment

Responsibility begins at home...

AUTHOR: Bob - (U.S.A.)

Boo h*o! I'm sorry that "J" carelessly left her video camera on board an aircraft that she had recently departed.

However, the camera she brought on board with her was HER responsibility, not Delta's.

I wonder if the irate parent who complained about Delta realizes how many 17 year-olds in this country would jump at the chance to travel abroad. I also wonder how many 17 year-olds would like to travel abroad AND have a video camera to memorialize their trip.

I suspect that most under priveleged 17 year-olds, given an opportunity to travel to London AND given a video camera to document the trip would NEVER leave an aircraft WITHOUT this camera. That's because they have probably been taught the importance of RESPONSIBILITY at home.

The parent (and the 17 year-old) need to place the blame where it belongs -- with THEMSELVES. Many people in this country are so quick to blame other people (or corporations) for mistakes that THEY have made. Take ownership!

Delta Airlines is governed by security rules and regulations set down by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. These rules are designed for people who are RESPONSIBLE. Those who are not responsible have to suffer the consequences.

I am not heartless. I do feel sorry for "J". However, I hope that this is a valuable lesson that she will carry with her the rest of her life. Hopefully, she won't be one of those people that blames society, etc. for every mistake that she makes.
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#9 Consumer Comment

Life will never be the same in this country since 9/11.

AUTHOR: Sherri - (U.S.A.)

I HAVE TO AGREE WITH TOM... Yes, it is sad that the girl lost her camcorder. But anyone has ever flown domestically or internationally knows that one of the last announcements made by the flight attendants is "please check underneath your seats and the overhead bins to make sure you have all your belongings."

I have flown Delta many times over the years (as recently as January 17th)and have always found them as accomodating as they can be..however, you have to understand that federal regulations tied their hands in that situation. Just as in my situation recently, when I had to fly home to Atlanta for a funeral. I had to go to the airport and purchase my ticket because it was less than 48 hours before my flight. I paid cash for a first class round trip ticket. I had to undergo extra screening because of this..Delta knows me, but federal regulations required them to select me for TSA screening because of these factors.

I am not unsympathetic, just a realist in a not pretty world.
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#10 Consumer Comment

We live in a different world today and we must take responsibility for ourselves and our belongings or pay the price fo their loss.

AUTHOR: Tom - (U.S.A.)

OK Kris, but lets take into account the reality of TODAYS world. Like I said with INTERNATIONAL flights, the planes are SECURED and NO ONE can go back on them until they are cleared by US CUSTOMS. Not the airlines choice, but a FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT Rule. Now you may think she is a single isolated case, but what about the next one & the next one and so on. Airlines have rules and such to make sure that there operations can run smoothly throughout the day for the millions of people flying every day. If a person is unable to take responsibility for themselves, then they need to get help from someone other than a airline. I believe this person probably didnt want to hear or understand why she or someone else couldnt just walk right back onto that aircraft & retrieve her Video Camera. I also would bet that the Airline tried to help her the best they could. She just didnt like the result. And while there are Bad People working for the Airlines, the same as there are in any business. They will eventually be caught & dealt with.

I am sorry she lost a valuable piece of equipment, as I would be for anyone. However I feel people must take responsibility for themselves & their actions and the consuqences that go with them. The airlines did what they could by taking down the information thru proper procedures. Whover took the camera is at fault, could have been a CUSTOMS AGENT, could have been a CLEANING PERSON, could have been a CATERING PERSON, could have been someone on the next crew or even someone completly else that may have had access to the aircraft after CUSTOMS cleared it. Also maybe CUSTOMS/Homeland Security siezed the camera to check for DRUGS contained inside it or such.

A lot of if's here. We live in a different world today and we must take responsibility for ourselves and our belongings or pay the price fo their loss.
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#11 Consumer Comment

Tom must not be HUMAN, it sounds as if he is the only person in the world not to have made a mistake and had help, even if it inconvienced them a bit!

AUTHOR: Kris - (U.S.A.)

Well Tom, I guess you must be the only perfect person in the world since you make it sound as if YOU have never made a simple mistake and had someone go out of their way to help you.

I mean come on, give the girl a break! She's 17 years old, she was on a long trip, on her way home, so she was probably pretty tired and jetlagged, she was excited to be home, nervous about making her connecting flight on time since it can take so long to get through customs, and she made a simple mistake! One that any NORMAL humanbeing could make given those circumstances!

The airline and personnel could've definately hadled the situation a little better. They showed they don't care about the people that put the food on their table, even it was "just a 17 year old girl"! I bet she won't fly them again, and in her lifetime that could be quite alot of business they miss out on! Not just her's alone but all of her family and friends and their family and friends. I know I won't and people I've told about this will think twice before boarding one of their planes.

As for you, Tom, I hope the time comes when you are in need of a little compassion and you receive the same attitude and compassion you've shown to "J" in your arrogant reply. You may want to step down off that high horse you've got yourself on and step in to the world the rest of us live in!
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#12 Consumer Comment

Tom - in Texas, if you're a theif, have no soul or finders keepers the philosophy

AUTHOR: Jeff - (U.S.A.)

So Tom I guess the excuse your making for the airline, US Customs and anyone else who enters the plane after it lands; if you're a theif, have no soul or finders keepers the philosophy to live by is: "if it's left behind it's yours for the taking". Therefore, that gives anyone the right not to return anything left on a plane because everyones not as responsible as you are.
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#13 Consumer Comment

International Security is Different

AUTHOR: Tom - (U.S.A.)

I think you kinda understood the problem when you said;

"I realize the security of the plane and its passengers are foremost in today's national climate. But I do understand what being a Good Samaritan is and going beyond ones job duties, even if it might cause a supervisor some anxiety"

Well it would have caused a LOT of PEOPLE a LOT of ANXIETY if you had been allowed back on the plane. When a Plane comes in from a FOREIGN Country, it has to be thourghly searched. This even includes the TRASH that is carried off. Once a plane has landed and been de-planed,NO ONE is allowed back on for any reason until US CUSTOMS has cleared it. So Delta couldnt have done anything until this had happened. You need to take responsibility for your carlessness and not blame others. Hopefully next time you will be a little more careful when getting off a airliner.
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