This was the second time that I tweeted Delta Assist while in-flight connecting to an international departure. Both times they were absolutely fantastic. I like to think that I leave ample time for connections (especially since I’m flying out of New York), but unexpected or especially long delays mess up the best of plans.
My last contact with Delta Assist was when I was flying DL 200 from Atlanta to Johannesburg. My LGA flight was delayed and I was worried about making the connection. Delta Assist actually contacted airport operations who held the flight for three of us (see – Trip Report – Delta Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) – BusinessElite B777-200LR – DeltaAssist Saves the Day)!
I decided to reach out to Delta Assist on Twitter for help in-flight using the wifi …and I’m so happy that I did. They truly are empowered to make a difference and they managed to hold the flight for two of us while we ran down the terminal! There were no promises, but they sent a message to operations to let them know of our predicament. No one met us as we came off our LGA flight, but sure enough when we arrived at the JNB gate at the exact departure time (with everyone else already boarded), the gate agent told us to slow down and not to worry as they were holding the flight for us! Wow, I had never witnessed such service and was thoroughly impressed.
This time I had 2 1/2 hours to make my Virgin Australia flight from LAX to Sydney. Unfortunately, my JFK-LAX flight was delayed 1 hour and 15 minutes. The purser told me that the pilot informed her that once we landed we’d be further delayed, with an anticipated gate arrival of 9:20PM (about 2 hours late). My Virgin Australia flight had a 9:55PM departure, meaning I would have about 20 minutes to make the flight. When the purser returned to my seat with another flight attendant to tell me that I would have to change terminals and re-clear security, I seriously began to have legitimate fears of missing the flight. I honestly did not review the connection details from Delta to Virgin Australia ahead of time, so I took these crew members at their word that I would have to re-clear security.
I used in-flight wifi to contact Delta Assist. Here’s our conversation:
It was great, within a matter of minutes they reserved a Business (Delta ONE) seat for me on DL 41, one of the hardest flights to find award availability on (and one of the most expensive to book Delta ONE revenue tickets). My only concern was that if I made the Virgin Australia flight, my boarding pass would no longer be valid as I was no longer seeing the Virgin Australia flight in the Delta app. I was assured that it was still valid and I could take whichever flight I wanted (or could make).
You can see the changes were immediately made to my reservation with both the Virgin Australia and Delta flight displaying on the full website:
Luckily, both the entire DL crew (I checked with nearly all of them) and Delta’s website were incorrect. There’s a dedicated gate within the DL terminal that has an air-side shuttle bus to the Virgin Australia gates at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Virgin Australia agents were waiting by the gate for connecting passengers and we were placed immediately on a bus. No running to the gate was required.
I think Delta Assist did an amazing job and I definitely value the live customer service tool. HOWEVER, I’m really happy I made that Virgin Australia flight. Business was fantastic (better than my DL return flight on DL 40), especially with my own row! Trip report coming tomorrow…