Once again, it’s head exploding time at Ethics Alarms. If you had asked me if an airline could do this, I would have answered “I hope not.” If you had asked me if an airline would do this, I would have answered, “Never!” But an airline did do this, and apparently isn’t even sorry about it.
When maintenance issues grounded the Sunday afternoon Delta aircraft flight scheduled to carry the University of Florida men’s basketball team from Gainesville to Storrs, Connecticut for a 7 pm (E.S.T.) Monday game against the University of Connecticut, Delta canceled Delta Connection flight 5059 to Atlanta, kicked its 50 passengers off the flight without telling them why, and converted their flight into a charter to Connecticut so the Gators wouldn’t be inconvenienced. It was reported that the bumped passengers were deceitfully told that there were mechanical problems, but never let on to the fact that the problems related to a different flight. Then, once they had been told their flight was cancelled, some passengers saw what had been their plane being boarded by some very tall young men.
A fair and honest, though still outrageous, explanation would have gone something like, “Nothing’s wrong with the plane, but the guys in charge here are big Gator basketball fans, so they say to hell with your appointments, business plans, family gatherings, connecting flights, vacations and funerals, what really matters is “GO GATORS!” Of course, honesty in this case might have caused passengers to be vary from the sheep-like demeanor airports procedures condition them to lapse into as soon as they start the check-in process.
Delta spokesman Michael Thomas explained that the passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and given vouchers valid for use through Delta for future trips. Some of them didn’t get out until Monday; the flight the basketball team commandeered was supposed to take off at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Message to Delta: That’s no explanation or justification, and your company is untrustworthy, dishonest, high-handed and disrespectful of your customers’ plans, needs and lives. I am willing to endure delays and inconveniences that are incidental to the flying hell called air travel these days, but only if I am confident that other passengers must take the same risks and endure the same mind-killing uncertainty and boredom that I do. If the airlines are going to pick arbitrary favorites and choose to wreck my plans and waste my time for something as parochial as a college basketball game, it will take more than a lousy voucher to satisfy me. This means war.
As usual with the Kaboom feature, let me ask readers to note at which stage of this story did their head finally blow…
1. When you learned that Delta had bumped a plane full of passengers who had paid for a flight to Atlanta so that it could accommodate the local basketball team…
2. When you learned that the passengers were lied to about the reason for the cancellation…
3. When you learned that some of those bumped could get to their destinations until the next say, or, my personal favorite…
4. When it dawned on you that the team’s flight was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, and it game wasn’t until the next evening, meaning that they could have left on Monday flight without missing anything but a night in a hotel, allowing the Atlanta-bound passengers to get what they paid for.
Well, gotta get the Shamwow, the squeegee and the mop.
My office is a bloody mess.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Facts: Gainesville Sun