Juggling Fire

Hey Delta, Glad My Kids Are OK Because Your Rep Ryan Davis Is Not

(I feel I should edit this a bit for clarity regarding the paragraph about the chaperone. The paragraph below, regarding the chaperone, is worded poorly, and I apologize. My intentions were not to make something seem like it is not. I was aware of the chaperone policy of China Southern. China Southern does state that the airline will provide a UM for children 12-18. There was not a charge for this service. So, that is another reason I felt OK with booking the girls’ tickets without a chaperone. I assumed the same policy applied to all connecting flights or that I would be notified if it was not.

Although the girls did not receive a UM, the woman at the Southern China counter when we checked in did try to find someone to escort them to their gate. I asked if I could walk them to the gate, but I was not allowed to do that. The girls have been to the airport in Bangkok before, along with many other airports, so I felt they could navigate through it without a problem, and we went over their boarding passes and further instructions thoroughly before they went in.

This is what I’m trying to raise awareness about: I want airline Web sites to mesh so that all policies are clear when tickets are booked. I want clear communication and responsible communication. I don’t want my children or anyone else’s children sent to a hotel by themselves because a policy was overlooked, disregarded or not communicated correctly. Navigating through airports is one thing; spending the night in a hotel alone is another. I do not have to justify being OK with one and not the other. Some parents might be OK with their children staying alone in a hotel room in Los Angeles. I am not.

Also, I want companies to be aware that the reactions and attitudes of their customer service representatives are paramount to how customers respond in unfortunate ordeals such as these. Had Ryan Davis said to me, “I’m sorry for this. I will put you in contact with your children immediately. We will make sure they are accompanied and taken care of and on that plane tomorrow,” I would have said, “Thank you,” and written that in a blog. And yes, I would have written it and been fair about it. But that didn’t happen. She was rude and unyielding and defensive the minute she answered the phone.

Like I said in my reply to the comment below, awareness cannot be achieved through silence, and sometimes it takes a little “badmouthing” to get changes made. It is not my style to badmouth for the sake of badmouthing, but it is my style to propose change as it benefits the public at large. I sincerely hope airlines do some unifying of their Web sites to include all policies so this does not happen to other families. Yes, I realize people make mistakes. I make them every day. But it doesn’t mean when we make mistakes that we shouldn’t take responsibility for them and fix them.

I hope I am doing this now, and I hope that clears the air for anyone questioning my take on the chaperone policy. It wasn’t the policy itself; it was the handling of the situation at the Delta ticket counter, the breakdown of communication on the Web site – and as the entire situation unfolded – and the disregard for my concern as a mother by Ryan Davis, along with her attempts to deceive me and make me feel inept.

My girls are now with their grandmother in Arizona. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support and comments. And hopefully, when I take this same flight in three weeks, it will go a little more smoothly.)

Dear Delta​, your customer representative Ryan Davis in Salt Lake City is not an asset to you.

Upon finding out my children were turned away from their flight for not having a chaperone, which was not even an option when I booked their flights, I called your office. It took me three hours to get a hold of someone, and I was handed to Ryan, who proceeded to tell me my children missed their flight.

When I said, no, they were at the gate speaking to my mother on the phone when they were turned away from their flight, Ryan then told me they can’t fly without a chaperone. When I told her that my daughter offered to pay the chaperone fee of $150 out of her own pocket, she interrupted me and said they don’t put children on the last available flight out. News to me.

I asked her why I was not notified of ANY of these policies when I booked my flights – a month and a half ago. She said – rudely – that Delta can’t comb through every passenger’s details and notify people when they aren’t eligible to fly. Wow.

I asked Ryan, so you feel it’s smarter to let my children stay alone in a hotel room in Los Angeles than put them on a two-hour flight to Phoenix where their grandmother is waiting for them? She said, rudely and over me, they aren’t alone. YES, THEY ARE! I am talking to them now – FINALLY, after nearly four hours of not knowing where they were, who they were with or where they were staying! She sarcastically added, “Well, I don’t feel it’s smart to let your 12- and 13-year-old children fly by themselves.” Really? That’s the best you have, Ryan?

Ryan proceeded to cut me off at every sentence and talk over me with every question I asked. Not a single, “I’m sorry.” Not one ounce of trying to understand where I am coming from as a mother.

I was not rude to this woman when I first got on the phone with her. I simply told her that I was a bit frustrated and would like a few answers.

Yes, I was raising my voice by the time I hung up.

I asked for her supervisor, and she said she didn’t have one. I find it hard to believe that I was talking to the top of the line for Delta Airlines, but that’s exactly what she said, “Yep. I’m it. I’m the top of the line.” I’m sorry if that’s the best you have, Delta. Pathetic.

I tried to book a chaperone when I booked my children’s tickets. It was not an option. The Web site said they are too old for a chaperone. I paid adult ticket prices because apparently, at ages 12 and 13, they are adults. Although I would have preferred them to fly with a chaperone, or at least a guide to the gates, they have traveled extensively, so I felt they are wise enough to navigate an airport. Had I not, I would not have let them fly alone. They made it from Thailand to China to Los Angeles without a hitch, but being ushered out of the airport to stay in a hotel by themselves in LA was more than a bit of a shock to me. Not OK, Delta. Not OK. You tried to blame this on China Southern Airlines, which is the airline on which they arrived in the U.S., but China Southern did its job. I was aware of their policies. It was your airline that took the booking and then turned my children away.

Now my 13-year-old daughter is being asked to pay $150 cash out of her pocket for a chaperone she not only doesn’t need but will never use!

I was not notified of any of this. Ryan said they had no information on me. Really? Because I booked these tickets for my children. I received confirmation for the $1,200 I spent. I’m pretty sure you at least had my e-mail address, and a heads up about your policies would have been helpful. If you can’t let children fly without a chaperone or fly on the last available flight out, then when a ticket is booked for children without a chaperone on the last available flight out, a parent should be notified.

Ryan Davis should not be in your customer service department. A lack of empathy for a mother who can’t locate her children halfway around the world is not a wise attitude. She is lazy and incompetent, and there is absolutely no excuse for that behavior in any industry.

Thanks, Delta, for not replying to any of my emails, Facebook posts or Tweets, which were many, for giving me a phone number that no one answered and for scaring the crap out of me and my girls.

Your policies and responsiveness to your customers are right up there with Ryan’s charm.

5 thoughts on “Hey Delta, Glad My Kids Are OK Because Your Rep Ryan Davis Is Not”

  1. I think that this story is a little off. It took me about 30 second to find the Delta policy in unaccompanied minors and it is very clear.
    Unaccompanied Minor – Special Services
    Delta provides special services for children who are flying by themselves. Children 5-14 years of age traveling without an adult (18 years plus) are considered an Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) and must participate in the UMNR program.

    Unaccompanied Minor (UMNR) service is mandatory for ages 5-14. Children ages 15-17 are not required to have unaccompanied service; however, we will provide the service if requested. The UMNR service fee will apply.

    1. It is not off. I booked my tickets through China Southern Airlines, and the fee was not required. They were booked as adults because that’s the option I was given. Regardless of any fee, my children should never have been sent to stay in a hotel by themselves in Los Angeles, and it shouldn’t have taken me four hours to find them. And Ryan Davis needs to learn some customer relations skills.

  2. Everyone can make a mistake, but in my opinion, you did not do your homework regarding the rules for unaccompanied minor on China Southern or Delta. I think that you must take some of the blame here, not just badmouth Delta. You wanted them treated as adults to travel on the pane, but in the same breath say they were not adult enough to stay in a hotel. I am happy that they are OK.
    Here is what Delta website says about last flight of the day for unaccompanied minor:

    Routings Not Permitted

    Last connecting flight of the day
    Any flight not operated by DL, DL Connection, AF or KL
    Domestic red eye flights greater than 2 hours in duration departing between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

    Here is the policy for China Southern, which again took me about 30 seconds to find.: Ⅰ. Passengers travelling alone between the age of 5 and 12 years old are considered as unaccompanied minors. Those children who are accompanied by an adult less than 18 years old and with civil capacity shall go through UM formalities. They have to apply for air carriage with us and may only travel on flights without a change of aircraft. Unaccompanied Children under 5 years old may not travel alone under any circumstances.

    Special services shall be applied when booking ticket and passengers can only board after approval and essential arrangement are made by CZ first under CZ’s rules. Please read carefully for Special passengers rules or call +(8620)4006695539(International phone) for inquire before ticket purchasing.

    Ⅱ. Acceptance Conditions

    Unaccompanied minors that meet following conditions can be accepted for carriage:

    1. Parents and guardians shall escort the unaccompanied minor to the airport, arrange a person to pick up and take care of their child at the destination and provide the name, address and contact number of this person.

    2. Application for unaccompanied minor service shall be submitted to our ticketing office when making seat reservation. Their seats must be confirmed in accordance with the Company’s relevant provisions relating to carriage.

    3. China Southern Airlines only accept unaccompanied minors on flights without a change of aircraft. If the trip includes two or more legs, either operated by the same carrier or different carriers, parents or guardians shall arrange a person to pick up and take care of the child at the transfer point and provide the name, address and contact number of this person.

    4. Parents or guardians that have difficulty in arranging the person and request us or local agents to hire personnel to do the job shall submit in advance an application to China Southern Airlines for our approval.

    1. Yes. I am aware of all this. I did read it and did do my homework, and traveling through an airport to a destination is one thing. Staying in a hotel alone in Los Angeles is another. Just because I am ok with one does not mean I’m ok with the other, and I shouldn’t have to be. Some parents might be. You might be, but I am not. It’s not a double standard. It’s just how I feel. If there was a problem with their booking, I should have been notified a month and a half ago when I made it. My goal is for policies to be unified between airlines and Web sites and updated so that no more discrepancies occur. Unfortunately, for that to happen, a little “badmouthing” has to take place. Awareness can’t be achieved through silence. And rude customer service from representatives like Ryan Davis should never be acceptable by any company. It’s not my style to bad-mouth for the sake of ruffling feathers. I am a journalist, and my point to all this is to see change and improvement and better quality control. Thanks for your comments. I didn’t mean to get snappy above. That’s why I reposted. 🙂

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