(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.