Friday, April 16, 2010

My open letter to Delta Airlines as a "Valued Medallion Member"

Dear Delta,
I am writing to tell you about my experience on a Delta flight (DL 0233 from Amsterdam to Seattle) on April 11th 2010. At the outset I want to mention that my husband and I are both Medallion members on Delta and have gone out of our way to book Delta flights for our very frequent travels. On April 11th 2010, I was flying back to Seattle from India via a KLM/Delta flight with my two children, ages 7 and 5.

I’m sure you understand that flying back from India to Seattle with 2 little children is a long, tiring and stressful experience. To add to this, on the second leg of the journey on the Delta operated flight, my son got sick. He told me his stomach hurt and so I got up to take him to the bathroom. As soon as we left our seats, he suddenly threw up. Since we were seated in the bulkhead seats right behind the Business class section, I put my hand over his mouth and rushed him to the Business Class restroom. He got quite sick and was passing out as I led him out of the restroom. While I was taking him back to the seat, one of the flight attendants stopped me and started telling me that I should have used a barf bag for him and also that I should have taken him to the Economy class restroom. I tried to explain to her that we were already in the passage and there was no time to either find the bag or walk to the back of the plane to the economy restroom. He had already vomited in the aisle and I wanted to get him to a restroom as quickly as possible. She continued to lecture me on how I could have done things and how they now need to clean up so many different places. Meanwhile, my son was fainting in my arms as I stood there listening to her. After this had gone on for some time, I told her I needed to get him to his seat and I could not believe she had not asked me once if he was all right. I believe my exact words were, “ Lady, I have vomit on my clothes that I have to wear for the next 10 hours. There is also throw up next to my seat that I also need to be in for the duration of this very long flight. Do you think I planned this? Do you think I would have not done something differently if I could?” It seemed like she had hard time believing that I did not, in fact, conspire with my son to make him sick so we could have a pleasure of puking in the business class restroom or watching the crew scrub the aisle, which they did a very poor job of, I might add.

For the rest of the flight, the treatment that I got from the flight crew was shocking and humiliating. I held my daughter in my lap so that my son could use her seat and lie down. No member of the crew came to ask me how he was or if I needed a blanket, a pillow or even a glass of water for him. As they cleaned the passage, they made it a point to shake their heads and loudly complain to each other about the task. At one point, I specifically thanked one of the crew members as they were cleaning and told them I was sorry about the incident. He did not respond to me except to again shake his head in disgust. The crew also proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the flight – no one picked up the garbage from our seats, or offered water, tea or coffee when they came around the cabin. I was stuck in the plane for 10 hours with a sick child and no help in a very hostile environment.

It was an unfortunate occurrence. It is not a pleasant experience for anyone, especially for the mother, to have a child throw up violently and unexpectedly. However, it was not the calamity that the plane crew made it out to be – it was simply an incident that could have been handled with professionalism, grace and humanity. I would have been glad to pitch and help the crew as best as I could. However, they seemed to completely fall apart at this inconvenience that was thrown their way. This is a crew that we are supposed to trust with our lives – based on this reaction, I would hate to be in their hands if a real emergency was to happen on the plane.

I already wrote you about this - not surprisingly, have not heard back. So I thought I would do my friends a service and share this experience with them, so they know, when their kids are sick - to not go into the business class restroom, AT ANY COST. And, if their kids plan to get sick, they better do so with advance notice to the parents and crew - we wouldn't want to incovenience your crew, now, would we?


Nikki Piplani.