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September 06, 2004

Delta gets it wrong

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Benton Courier on August 31. Mr. Nelson was a passenger on a Delta flight and witnessed an act of discourtesy to a young mother, home on a brief deployment leave. I am appalled.

This letter is NOT to the editor. This letter is to the young female soldier from Benton, who I had the privilege to meet this past Friday evening as we were both trying to get home to Arkansas. Returning from a business trip to New Jersey, I was changing planes in Cincinnati when we met. I had just boarded Delta Flight 6281 (operated by Chautauqua Airlines, a Delta Connection Carrier), Delta's last flight of the evening to Little Rock, when you came onboard and sat down in front of me. I, along with other passengers who had already boarded, listened while you shared your story with us. Having spent [more than] six months in Iraq, you were traveling home to Arkansas. While in Iraq, you had been under enemy fire frequently - on many occasions, several times a day. You had lost two fellow soldiers from your post, and just recently (watched) another lose a leg. You were exhausted from two days of travel, having flown from Iraq to Kuwait, from Kuwait to the Netherlands, from the Netherlands to Cincinnati ? but you were excited and happy, because Cincinnati to Little Rock meant you would be home, just in time for your youngest child's second birthday. You had 18 days' leave remaining before returning to Iraq.

This letter is also to the well-dressed, middle-aged woman who boarded the plane late, who through some administrative error had been assigned the same seat as the soldier. Your behavior made it obvious to me and those around me that you had no intention of handling the situation in a mature way. You approached the flight attendant and demanded "your seat." As the flight attendant worked with the gate crew to try and resolve the issue, the soldier was asked to leave the plane. Shortly thereafter, you returned. When I inquired as to whether you were aware that the individual who had previously been in "your seat" was a soldier traveling home from Iraq on leave to see her family, your verbatim response was, "So what ? I'm a victim from Chicago! What's the difference?" All within earshot were dumbfounded. It was apparent that you have no appreciation for your fellow Americans who leave home and family and risk their lives wearing the uniform of the United States military.

This letter is also to Delta Airlines. When I, along with several others onboard, approached the Chautauqua flight attendant volunteering to give up one of our seats for the soldier, she left to ask the pilot if that could be arranged, then returned to inform me that the pilot was discussing it with "ops." I overheard part of her ensuing conversation with the pilot, where he conveyed the message that Delta would not permit a paying passenger to be replaced with a "non-rev" ? so, in the end, the decision which caused the soldier to spend yet another night away from home was a financial one. Why, instead, don't soldiers like this one get preferential treatment from Delta instead of being placed last on the list? I am, and have been for many years, a Delta Medallion frequent flier, and may continue to fly Delta when appropriate. However, in spite of Delta's well-publicized financial difficulties, if it is your corporate policy to prioritize profit margin over principled corporate citizenship, then I will be a vocal opponent of any federal financial aid to Delta Airlines.

This letter is also to those in the U.S. military responsible for placing this soldier and all like her in this situation in the first place. As a small businessman, I understand fiscal responsibilities and expect taxpayers' money to be stewarded wisely. I cannot believe, though, that there are not better ways to save money than having our military personnel traveling to and from combat situations on leave flying on commercial airlines under this type of arrangement. Does this policy apply to the military decision-makers as well? Will it take you three days to get home on leave if and when you are ever again asked to serve in combat?

As I was deplaning in Little Rock, the flight attendant handed me a folded piece of paper and personally thanked me for offering my seat to the soldier. Walking through the terminal, I read the note she had written. The youngest of her six children, her only son, was joining the Army. She was expressing her hopes that, in the event he was ever placed in a similar situation, he would be treated differently or at least know that there were those who appreciated his service.

Back to the young soldier: Because you were asked to leave the plane, you did not see that there were numerous volunteers willing to give up their set for you. You only heard the one ingrate who had no appreciation for the sacrifices you are making for all of us. That was no way to be welcomed home to America. I was both ashamed to have been a part of what happened and angry that, in spite of our efforts, there was nothing the other passengers and I could do to help you. Again, this letter is first and foremost to you. It is my intention that it appears in the media before your return to Iraq, so that you will know your efforts are appreciated and that you are sincerely welcomed home by most, if not all, of us. I hope we get another opportunity to do just that. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Michael E. Nelson

Delta will be hearing from me regarding their "corporate policy to prioritize profit margin over principled corporate citizenship". And thanks to Mr. Nelson for taking the time to write this letter.

Posted by Deb at September 6, 2004 12:16 AM


It's a difficult situation all around. Delta is facing Chapter 11. Unlike in the post-9/11 period, it appears that government assistance will not be made available for struggling airlines like Delta. Due to steep fuel costs and stagnant air ticket prices, they need every dollar they can bring in. What Mr. Nelson saw was an airline in the process of slipping beneath the waves.

Posted by: Zhang Fei at September 6, 2004 07:38 AM

True, Zhang, but if even one person doesn't fly Delta as a result of reading about this, they've hurt themselves even more than if they'd relented and let the young lady have one of the seats. My suspicion is that it will be more than one.

Posted by: dave at September 6, 2004 03:26 PM

This is B.S!

I copied the post here and sent it on to all my contacts.
These soldiers are the ONLY reason we do not have a Beslan (Russia ) here.
Greed realy makes some people mean and stupid.

Posted by: Dave H. at September 6, 2004 03:54 PM

"Delta is facing Chapter 11"
Absolutely irrelevant. The US airlines are ALWAYS FACING BANKRUPTCY. Piss-poor behavior like this is the reason why.

Posted by: Scott_in_Japan at September 6, 2004 04:53 PM

Damn right it will be more than one person not flying Delta. It will be everyone I can influence. I am a road warrior and Delta just dropped to my last choice.

Posted by: Ron Muir at September 6, 2004 05:59 PM

dave: True, Zhang, but if even one person doesn't fly Delta as a result of reading about this, they've hurt themselves even more than if they'd relented and let the young lady have one of the seats. My suspicion is that it will be more than one

I doubt that. There are probably thousands of troops traveling back to the US at any given time. The airlines are doing them a favor by letting them fly free. This is a privilege, not a right. If you want to persuade Congress that we ought to increase the Pentagon budget by the amounts necessary to cover their travel home, then so be it.* But it is wrong-headed to criticize Delta for not letting one of the paying passengers give up his seat, and then perhaps book a flight on a different airline to get to his destination. People who want to be charitable ought to take a personal hand in it instead of insisting that other people (or corporations) bear the cost.

* Each soldier could perhaps be given a $2,000 annual travel allowance, amounting to about $3B a year, a relative pittance in the overall scheme of things.

Posted by: Zhang Fei at September 6, 2004 06:12 PM

They do not fly "free" they fly stand by, which is a different thing entirely. A ticket was still bought and paid for by someone, probably the soldier in this case from a travel allowance,but it is not full fare, true, but we don't know that the other woman had paid full fare either. What is at state here is public image and goodwill. Something Delta needs more then this situation. The smart thing would have been to take up one of the other passangers offer to swap out, and take a standby themselfs with a few free drink coupons thrown in.

Posted by: shawn at September 6, 2004 07:23 PM

""I doubt that. There are probably thousands of troops traveling back to the US at any given time. The airlines are doing them a favor by letting them fly free. ""

The airines also receive some money from the millitary for being a 'reserve' air transport capacity.

Delta screwed the pooch espically looking for a government bailout..

Posted by: LarryConley at September 6, 2004 10:29 PM

Soldiers don't fly free... soldiers are flown free to one of 3 major airports in the US (BWI and Dallas are two, can't recall the other) BY THE MILITARY. They then have to pay the rest out of pocket. In fact, they cannot get discounted fares because of "airline insurance reasons".

Posted by: James at September 6, 2004 10:51 PM

Enough with these airlines that can't manage to crawl from one year to the next without a handout. Let them all go belly up. Especially the ones run by corporate clones who have no real judgment as seen in this incident.

Better and stronger airlines will emerge to fill the gap. Adios, Delta, you've been a lame and halt excuse for an airline for years. This story just confirms my previous experiences with you.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at September 6, 2004 10:55 PM

The point that soldiers fly free is moot. In this case fellow passengers were willing to give up their seat for the young Marine and Delta fumbled it yet again. No wonder Southwest and Jet Blue are crushing them in customer service
and on Wall Street.

Posted by: Dan at September 7, 2004 05:08 AM

I second the "irrelevant" comment above. Southwest Airlines always turns a profit in the exact same business. I'm in business, too, and I know I'd be *pissed* if the government stepped in to prop up my incompetent competition. Let'em die so that a competent company, such as Southwest, Alaska, etc. can step in.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 7, 2004 06:30 AM

Also note that much of the US Airliner fleet was purchased with financing and/or loan guarantees from teh Defense Department, as part of the Reserve Air Transport Fleet. The least the airlines could do is treat soldiers and sailors well.

Posted by: Adam Maas at September 7, 2004 07:05 AM

I hope what I would have done in that situation, would have been to stand up and say that if that young soldier couldn'g fly, then I wouldn't fly either and depart the plane. Hopefully, a lot of fellow passengers would have joined me.

Posted by: Doug at September 7, 2004 07:32 AM

The fact the Marine is a "non-rev" customer is indeed irrelevant as well as illogical. Sooner or later that Marine would have flown. Sooner or later that paying fare would have flown. The number of planes, and the seats on them, is a fixed quantity.

Quite frankly this indicates a level of stupidity on the part of "Ops" that must be part of the reason that Delta is going under. Cincinati is one of Delta's main hubs. You'd think they would have someone with brains there. Since they do not there is no reason to supppose that Delta is worth saving. In fact, it would be a mercy to the traveling public to help Delta terminate itself by both refusing to fly on them as well as telling your elected officials that you _will_ _not_ vote for them if they vote to help Delta.

Posted by: Jody Dorsett at September 7, 2004 08:13 AM

Delta Airlines just lost my business...

Posted by: cowgirl at September 7, 2004 08:24 AM

Unbelieveable what our troops have to put up with
in the USA!

Bad enough what they are having to put up with in

God bless them all!

Posted by: Ruth Parker at September 7, 2004 09:29 AM

Delta Airlines is on its last legs and this proves it. It also shows the rise of the same scum who saw fit to spit on me and my fellow Vietnam returnees 35 years ago. You may be certain that our military people would rather be anywhere than in Iraq being shot at. Every American (I would hope) would rather that 9/11 didn't happen but there is that element who simply do not understand or care about those who have chosen to step up to the plate and carry out our nation's military missions.

Delta Airlines conduct in this matter has certainly lost them any business from me and has gained them a detractor. I will actively oppose any government bailouts for them and will pass along this story and encourage people that I know not to fly with them. Failure to support our troops has to have a price.

Dave Moore
Tacoma, WA

Posted by: Dave Moore at September 7, 2004 09:33 AM

This is not the first time Delta has exhibited poor judgement, shameful manners and bad business sense regarding treatment of miltary personnel and their families.

I got peripherally involved in an issue with them about 7 years ago and wrote a nasty letter on behalf of a GI's family that had to reschedule tickets for a hastily canceled wedding due to a real-world mission. The letter campaign worked and Delta caved.

You can't put a fixed price on bad publicity and its effect on the bottom line, but it is usually massive. If this gets out on email or in the broader blogosphere (I came here via Donald Sensing's site) Delta will fold like a bedsheet and seek out this soldier and offer her all kinds of free travel.

Posted by: Chris at September 7, 2004 09:35 AM

Delta "ops' or "oops" as it were, made an egregious error which will cost Delta much more in lost revenue and negative publicity than offering the "lady" incentive to relinquish her seat i.e free ticket and lodging. The cost for that would have been much less than what it will cost Delta because of poor decision making.

I hope Delta does well only because of the Crew of that aircraft. But I will not fly Delta nor any of its partners. I will write my congressmen urging them to vote against any government bailout.

Posted by: Bob Rackleff at September 7, 2004 09:57 AM

It looks like more than one of you has failed to check a couple of "minor" details. 1) Chautauqua Airlines is a separate entity from Delta Airlines. (Check their web site and see that they have a code share agreement with not only Delta, but also American, United and US Air.) 2) Delta does not control how the employees of their many partners interpret the myriad of rules and regulation given them by the FAA. 3) There is no mention on the many times and different ways Delta supports the military and the individual soldiers and sailors in their travels.

Many of the articles seem to be inflamed as I was at the way the young soldier was treated by a couple of people - the ill mannered passenger and the pilot. The pilot works for Chautauqua not Delta. One mistake by one employee of a partner air line does not indicate to me a Delta corporate policy against humanely treating the heroes in our military.
As an aside, I wonder how many of the above critics have never made a mistake.

Posted by: Leon at September 7, 2004 11:04 AM

I think you will find the "operationa" control of this flight was in the hands of Delta, not Chatauqua. In behalf of Delta, I will report that at the end of the earlier Gulf war at DFW airport I saw the Delta agent give out "bump" (free round trips for future flights) to passengers who would voluntarily relinquish their seats so that service people without reservations could board a flight to Okla City. I do not know whether that was approved by Delta management.

Posted by: Bill at September 7, 2004 01:28 PM

Delta or Chautauqua!? Who wrote the ticket. Delta is my guess.

If anyone wants to let Delta know their thoughts on this fiasco, Delta's contact info is:


I did.

Posted by: DUTCH at September 7, 2004 03:07 PM

Some time back my son was on a flight when a first-class passenger traded seats with a serviceman. The serviceman was also given a round of applause by the cabin crew and passengers. My son said that he was mightily impressed by this display of appreciation.

He is currently a (rather new) co-pilot on United Express. I suspect that servicemen have a friend on any plane he is on. ...I expect him to go to bat for these folks whenever he can.

Posted by: Tom Casey at September 7, 2004 03:36 PM


What I find incredible is that people offered to give up their seat and were refused by the *carrier*!!

I don't think I've ever heard of anything like that before in my entire life. That alone makes moot the financial status of Delta or any other aspect of this story.

Posted by: ed at September 7, 2004 04:11 PM

A disgusting situation.

The "Ops" was the regional carrier's Flight Operations in Cincinnitis co-located with Delta. But ole Chiquitta Banana dispatches there own.

Sorry, Bill, you are dead wrong. Choquetta's only responsibility to Delta is to feed it passengers and their luggage.

Sorry Dutch, the pee poor operation of an airline has nothing to do with who wrote the airline ticket(s). This warrior's ticket could have been written, and likely was, by a travel agent under contract to the military for these flight situations.

Picking an airline to boycott when that airline is going to your destination, is like boycotting items made in China. Nice idea, difficult to follow through with. See who you are flying with in 30-days. If Delta or Choquetta is going to your destination, you will be on it. And Choquetta is a piece of crap airline. But if it is going where you are going, you are on it!

For those of you foolish enough to wish Delta out of business check your retirement plan and see what airline stock it holds. Check to see what the loss of Delta would mean to competition in the route structures of America. Check with your broker about what the loss of Delta Air Lines would do to our economy, because "it is the economy, stupid" that matters to all Americans.

If we lose just one more airline, our ticket fares are going to really go through the roof due to lessened competition. Remember, airlines are unregulated. I Cannot believe that right wingers want any business to go out of business, all that unemployment and by the way, Delta Air Lines is a big contributor to the Republican party. Look it up!

I can tell you from experience that having to spend one extra night in Cincinnati in Delta’s fine facility there beats the carp out of an extra night at Baghdad International. Also since this troop was bounced, Delta put her up at the Roadway Inn across from the airport there in Cincinnati. Delta bought her a room and her meals.

Hell, coming home from the Viet-nam, I slept on my baggage at SFO when the airline bumped be back in the early 1970s and guess what, it did not injure me a bit. It was no big deal. Damb if I did not have to sleep on the floor in an American airport! Boy, after Vietnam, that was a real insult! Laying around SFO sure beat the carp out of dodging surface-to-air carp in that stupidity we called Vietnam.

This was a stupid and insensative thing that happened. You can bet that operations people heard about it.


Posted by: Phil at September 7, 2004 11:46 PM

Chatauqua Airlines has NO operations people in Cincinnati or Arkansas. Phil appears to be confusing airplanes with bananas.

Posted by: Bill at September 8, 2004 06:40 AM

I believe that gate and ground agents handling this flight work for Comair, a division of Delta. Chautaqua just flies and maintains its planes. Since this flight leaves from concourse C, it's most likely Comair that handled the gate. Hope this clears any confusion.

Posted by: concerned at September 8, 2004 07:23 AM

From comments on Flyertalk.com at the delta forum, seems like this particular soldier was on a Buddy pass (Deeply discount travel for Airline employees, therefor not confirmed travel but on Stand-by based on seats available)

Posted by: Reggie at September 8, 2004 08:08 AM

What are we doing? Is it the same thing that we did
to our men when they came back from Viet Nam? Come on America lets stand up for our men and women remember they are doing their best to keep you free. Delta you were wrong or whoever flew
that plane a seat should have been provided for this soldier.
God bless America!!!


Posted by: Florence at September 8, 2004 01:30 PM

My husband is serving in Iraq and came home for leave in May. He flew a good portion of the trip on Delta, paid for by the military. The military has been paying for the entire trip home for servicemen and women for some time now, rather than simply into the gateway. The letter writer does not know why the passenger was considered a "nonrev". If she was flying on a buddy pass, Delta or their partner did not put her up in a hotel as another poster commented. Perhaps she was stand-by because another flight was delayed and she misconnected, entirely possible in the 3 days of travel it takes to return home from the Middle East. Please keep in mind that the majority of passengers are extremely nice to soldiers, buying them meals, changing seats when possible, and expressing thanks and gratitude. Delta treated my husband and the large group of soldiers he travelled with very well. There will always be some people who are self-absorbed and won't do the right thing but you can't blame an entire company and its employees for that mistake.

Posted by: militarywife at September 8, 2004 01:50 PM

Cheap ticket, free ticket, I don't care! Any soldier serving I would be HONORED to give my seat up. What goes around comes around ;)
Well, just goes to show you, northern women are just that, women, not ladies. No class whatsoeva' (whatsoever)!

Posted by: StrykerMom at September 8, 2004 02:22 PM

If we should get anything out of this please the next time you see one of our soldiers go up to them and shake there hands and tell them that you appreciate them for what they do.It is hard to belive that this woman is that stupid not to give up her seat. I know what our soldiers are going through my son is a Sgt with the 3 2 Stryker brigade (kicks butt) He e mails me when he can. Lady how would you like to be shot at everyday for a year putting your life on the line not seeing your family or your new bride for a hole year. He is doing his job you do yours.

Posted by: curt at September 8, 2004 04:35 PM

Hopely my grandson will be coming home on RandR after 1 year in Iraq on 9-11=2004. I wish him smooth sailing and not to many bumps along the way. He is not much of a world traveler so it will be easy to bump him and he will graciously give you his seat if you need it. He is an AMERICAN SOLDIER and serving his country with the up most pride and love for his country.
Grandma to a Stryker from Ft. Lewis, Washington

Posted by: marie turner at September 8, 2004 05:31 PM

I am a mom of a Stryker soldier, who is currently on his way home from Iraq for a 2 week leave. I pray that he does not have to endure any of the humiliating experience this Marine had to go thru. I know that the "lady" from Chicago will someday receive her judgement for this act of selfish, rude, mean-spirited, and just plain evil behaviour. As for Delta, I recently flew Delta from NC to Atlanta.. on that flight 3 USArmy men were flying back to Iraq after some leave time. The Delta Pilot made it a point to welcome them and thank them and tell them how proud we are of them... the whole plane erupted in an applause... all 3 flew first class, cause other passengers gave up their seats for these soldiers... there was not one problem with doing this... to hold Delta Airlines as a whole responsible for the actions of a small few is not right... each individual has to make their own decisions based on their own will... let us pray that the majority of our troops, including my son, will experience a greater share of support, love, and encouragement from the Delta pilots, flight attendants, and of course fellow passengers... thank you for this website...

Posted by: cindy patten at September 8, 2004 05:42 PM

I am a flight attendant and there's no way in hell I would have left that soldier behind. The airlines cannot make a person fly against their will. If you wanted to give your seat to a troop, I sure as hell would make it happen. My brother is in the Stryker Brigade. Everytime I see a soldier in the airport or have them on my flight, I see my brother in them. I realize they are all somebody's brother, sister, mother, father, son, daughter etc, etc. How would anyone at Delta like it if they're loved one was treated in a similar matter?

Posted by: Liz Anderson at September 8, 2004 06:51 PM

I am appalled that Delta would do such a thing to one of our soldiers. I and my family will never fly Delta again. I have flown with Delta several times. Never again. I just hope this mom got home to see her family before she had to fly back to Irag. Shame Shame on you Delta. I hope ya'll can sleep at night. I also hope none of your children are in Iraq. And to the women who said she was a victim from Chicago? WHO CARES!!!!!

Posted by: Judy Boone at September 8, 2004 07:29 PM

I wonder how many of the people here heaping scorn on Delta responded to this article by contacting Operation Hero Miles or the USO Contingency Travel Fund to buy some tickets for soldiers?

Or does your moral superiority merely extend to demanding other people (i.e. Delta) fork over the money? It's really easy to be generous with other people's money. How generous are you with your own?

Posted by: Stormy Dragon at September 8, 2004 07:49 PM

I think Delta "ops" needs a serious reality check. If it were not for soldiers like this one, and others like her, this "ops" person, or people would be drafted to go to war,and would no longer have the priveledge to make the authoratative decisions that "ops" makes.
If this were all a matter of money and finacial status for Delta, I seriously doubt that one simple seat assignment would make or break the Delta bank. However,not allowing this seat change may incourage a trend of financial difficulty for them since there are about 150,000 troops over seas and probably more than half of them use Delta airlines.

Posted by: Angela at September 9, 2004 04:35 AM

My son is a soldier and leaving for Iraq, and yet I feel that the Pilot was the bad guy not Delta He had the last say and he may have made that decision because he doesn't support the troops or just because he wanted to get off the ground. I noticed a lot of that on our round trip to Seattle (on Delta) for the Deployment Ceremony at Ft. Lewis. God bless our troops and thank God that the Marine was going home for a visit. Sometimes we get all upset when the important thing, the Marine, was alive & well and on her way to visit her children. Just a thought

Posted by: Stephney at September 9, 2004 07:06 AM

I think this situation is terrible. My husband was able to come home on R and R in July after being in Iraq for 9 months. His flights all went fine; as I think the vast majority do. However; what I don't understand is why the passanger wasn't able to get off the plane and give up her seat...she paid for the seat; if she wanted to give it up to someone else it would not have affected wether or not money was lost. It would have just been trading places with each other.

And to Stormy Dragon; it's wrong of you to assume that people are just looking to spend other people's money. I have given a lot of money to help my husband and the men he works with; and even more of my time and energy. I work EVERY DAY to support them in any way I can. And so do a lot of other people. But sometimes you have to ask for help; as much as I wish I could; I cannot possibly afford to supply everyone with what they need; so asking others to help should not be a problem. People are not obligated to give finacially; but it should not be a burden to ask that they, at the very least, appriciate what our military and other public servants do day in and day out for our country.

Posted by: canda at September 9, 2004 08:53 AM

The same exact thing happened to my husband with Delta when he returned home for his R & R after 10 months in Iraq. It seemed that sometimes selling the same seat number is common. My husband was put on stand-by. Next flight came...and no open seats and was again, put on stand-by for the next flight.
This was my husbands fourth day of traveling to reach home from Iraq. As he put it "I just want to get home". Can you imagine flying flight after flight and sleeping at airports....just to get home. He then was told that there was no other flights for another 6 hours.
Well, he went to the American Airlines counter to see if they had a flight home and was willing to pay for this ticket out of his own pocket. He explained his situation to the representative and again told her..."I just want to get home". The rep told him to step aside and made a phone call. After waiting a few minutes....he was told that there was a seat available and his fare was 'taken care of'. You don't know how happy he was. But...to sweeten the deal....he was removed from his seat on the plane and shown a seat in first class. Way to go American Airlines! Thank you for being so 'nice' to my husband.

Posted by: Steph at September 9, 2004 10:35 AM

AAAAHHH!!! this makes me mad!!! How can our soldiers be treated this way? They are saving our butts people!! My fiance is in Iraq and God! I hope when the time comes for him to fly home, he dosen't have to go thru anything like this...that's the last thing he needs.

And I just read a comment that said "Delta Air is a big contributor to the Republican party".
Well, I hope Delta hits bottom fast and hard....screw them.

Stryker's Sweetheart

Posted by: Stryker's Sweetheart at September 9, 2004 10:51 AM

Soldiers do fly, free of charge, from Kuwait to the closest airport to their duty station. The fact that this soldier didn't pay out of pocket for her ticket home should be irrelevant. The government buys them the cheapest ticket at the time, it doesn't matter what airline it is. I've seen people fly home on Delta, United and Northwest..

Nothing pisses me off more than to see people gripe about what freedoms they THINK they're losing, and then don't bother to show any gratitude to the people who VOLUNTEER to protect and ensure those freedoms.

Posted by: Kathi at September 9, 2004 02:56 PM

As the Mother of one son in Iraq, another going in an out all of the time and his wife also in the A.F. all parents of small children, who have spent their adult lives in the U.S.Military, each member of our family knows the hardships that come about when our country goes to war. When a person cannot give up a seat for a few hours to let the soldier get home after so many months away says only one thing to me...they need one week of living in the war torn country where the soldier has been living for the past few months and living like the "natives", 'cause when they get back to the good old U.S.A. they will be more then happy to give a soldier their seat. They cannot imagine what is going on over there and they really need a wake-up call. As for Delta...no wonder they are doing a Chapter 11.

Posted by: Vic Brooks at September 9, 2004 08:01 PM

This soldier paid for that Delta flight with more than money. She gave and continues to give her all for freedom for all of us including idiots like that selfish woman who demanded her seat. I hope the demanding wench and Delta airlines become flightless birds! God Bless that young soldier and her family.

Posted by: Marge Cashin at September 10, 2004 06:11 AM

Delta is a p*ss poor airlines to begin with. If this story is true they deserve to go chapter 11 and the "victim" from Chicago deserves to be on the next plane hijacked by terrorists since she thinks so little of of our troops sacrifice to kill terrorists.

Posted by: Jack Crevalle at September 10, 2004 06:19 AM

I work at a USO in a major airport. We have a rule of thumb for military passengers...

If at all possible take American. In our experience they are by far the most accomodating to military passengers. We have never had serious problems with American stranding military passengers unless it involved a weather issue.

If you can't fly American try United. While sometimes United is a pain to deal with for military guests they can be reasoned with. It may take asking for a manager repeatedly but eventually they will fix the problem.

Do not fly Delta if you can help it. They can be just pain unreasonable. Nothing like me standing there with an E-2 going home on Emergency leave and having Delta point blank refuse to help. In that particular situation American ended up honoring Deltas ticket and getting that young man home for his mothers funeral. That is why I will NEVER fly Delta.

Posted by: mapchic at September 10, 2004 08:06 AM

I travel almost every week in my job. This is par for the course with the Airlines. I cannot help but reference the movie "Anger Management" each time I board. Note: If I hear the Airlines blame 9/11 for one more thing I'm going to scream. Even though I say that..after I upgraded a Solider returning from Iraq ,at least American Airlines, at my request , did upgrade 3 other soliders traveling with him at AA's expense.
As for the women from Chicago: Well... she simply needs her ass kicked!

Posted by: Pamela J Cates at September 10, 2004 09:23 AM

After R&R, Delta lost my brother's luggage on his way back to Iraq. I would never fly Delta.

Posted by: Jennifer at September 10, 2004 04:08 PM

What on earth does "I'm a victim from Chicago!" mean? A victim of what? Were you in an accident? Or do you consider yourself a "victim" by being slightly inconvenienced? Either way, this sort of thing in really unconscionable.

Further, the kind of attitude that would lead to the callous dismissal of an American servicewoman as "non-revenue" is downright grotesque. This manner of arrogance is a direct result of federal propping-up of Old Air.

There is such an animal as karma in the business world. It's call "word of mouth". It's more powerful than ever in the Net Age. Handouts and corporate welfare can't keep the consequences of bad business off forever. The predators of competition and lighter/faster/better will have their day.

Posted by: PFC Scott P at September 11, 2004 04:55 PM

Well, I have a trip to Macon, GA coming up early next year. I generally try to go non-stop or direct, but I can get there from here with one extra hop on American.

And I'll let Delta know why I'm not in their seat.

Too bad. They *used* to be a good airline.


Posted by: leelu at September 12, 2004 08:44 AM

It is sad that this solder was removed from the aircraft but one minor detail was omitted. She was flying on a S-4 Buddy Pass. This is a non-revenue space available pass provided to the airline employee's. These passes may be given to anyone of the employee's choosing. However, the passenger will only fly if there are seats available after ALL revenue passengers have been accomodated. I would be upset with the attitude of the middle-aged lady. But certainly the airline should bump the non-revenue passenger instead of the revenue passenger.

Posted by: Dave at September 13, 2004 09:35 AM

After reading the original article here, I wrote to Delta. Here's my message and the reply I received from Delta today.


The attached article came to my attention through the
MarineCorpsMoms.com web site. If the incident is accurately reported
the management and board of directors of Delta should be ashamed of
themselves as your policies show a complete lack of compassion,
patriotism, and simple humanity.

Shame on you, Delta.

Alan X. Xxxxxxxx


Dear Mr. Xxxxxxxx,

Thank you for your e-mail to Delta Air Lines.

Delta regrets that you may have received a poor impression concerning
our connection carrier, Chautauqua Airlines, and the handling of
military personnel. We are currently conducting an investigation into
the matter.

Please understand that Delta has supported our troops from the very
beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The company supports and greatly
appreciates the sacrifice and dedication of our U.S. military who have
courageously served our country, and has taken many actions to show our

Initially, Delta began allowing ticket rule exceptions for ticketed
military passengers and their family members at the onset of military
action. In response to an abundance of offers from our SkyMiles
members to donate miles for soldiers to return home under the U.S.
military's Operation Iraqi Freedom Rest and Relaxation program, Delta
set up the SkyMiles for Heroes Program which provided award tickets for
selected military personnel to return home during their leave period.
Delta was the first airline to introduce this type of program and
initiated this campaign with a donation of ten million miles.

Delta continues to host eligible military personnel who are traveling
under the terms of the Rest and Relaxation program in our Crown Room
Clubs worldwide. With a variety of travel services including
personalized flight assistance, fully-stocked complimentary bars,
high-speed WI-FI internet access, free local telephone calls, fax
machines, satellite TV and more. Crown Room Club amenities provide
passengers a differentiated travel experience and Delta welcomes the
opportunity to serve our troops in this way.

We regret the situation with this particular soldier did not allow for
a more favorable impression.

Mr. Xxxxxxxx, Chautauqua and Comair are our Delta Connection partners,
and are also wholly owned subsidiaries of Delta. They, however,
operate as separate companies. In Cincinnati, Comair is responsible for
the gate handling of Delta, Chautauqua and Comair flights. Please rest
assured that a copy of your comments has been forwarded to all
appropriate management areas, including our connection partners, Comair
and Chautauqua Airlines, for review.


Lisa Jones
Customer Care

Posted by: AlanATL at September 14, 2004 01:11 AM

I received the exact same letter verbatim from Delta, although it was signed by another "Manager".

Posted by: DUTCH at September 14, 2004 01:44 AM

The "manager" or "managers" of Customer Care at Delta should know enough about their company to recognize that Chautauqua is NOT a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta.

Posted by: Bill at September 16, 2004 12:13 PM

Those beurocrats should be tied and quartered.
I never heard of such an injustice!!!!!
Send THEM to IRAQ!

Posted by: Cathy at September 20, 2004 08:11 PM

While reading this I cried. First how could anyone,especially a woman act so horrid? Second, Delta saying they have a Crpwn Room for select soldiers, well who is to SELECT them? Why did not someone from the plane company take that young soldier to the SPECIAL room? Even if Dlta put this young soldier up for the night and paid for everything, it still did not pay for her missing one extra day with her family before she had to go back to Hell. Why does the world have to be such a mean place to live? Why?

Posted by: Mary Ann Hall at September 21, 2004 01:58 AM

You guys make it sound like she was forced into joining the military and should get to fly virtually free. If she wanted to get back home without delay, buy a ticket. Flying on an employee buddy pass means you fly standby. She tried to save some money and that is fine. But you take your chances and sometimes you don't get on the flight you want. Why should Delta, or any passenger on a revenue ticket, work around a person flying on a non-revenue ticket?

Posted by: Dave at September 22, 2004 02:40 PM

As a mother of one Marine (stationed now in Fallujah) and one Military Intel (army) just back from Kosovo, I think you do not realize what these service people get per day in wages...they get $36.66666 a day....I would like to see anyone of you work for those wages. you are correct it was her option to non-rev. or go standby. Maybe thats because other bills needed to be paid and she had to sacrifice one for the other...Point being...Delta is a rotten airline and I do hope they loose a lot of business from this one experience that someone stood up and said enough already...

Posted by: Terry at September 23, 2004 06:10 AM

This is not good for our service memebers nor is it good public relations for Delta. I have served time in tbe military and also had to return home for a death in my family. I don't remember which airline it was but I requested an earlier flight so I could get home to make funeral arrangements, I was put on the next available flight. This was at Seattle/ Tacoma Intenatioal in 1976 I was a paying passenger flying in civillian clothes.
I now have 2 nephes in the military and one is in Iraq now so if I were fying now you better believe I'd give yup my seat for a servicemember.This was pretty poor service fromwho ever was responsible and they need their attitude adjustment in their pockets for doing this!

Posted by: Peggy Skates at September 23, 2004 11:26 AM

what a bunch of crap. First this was not DELTA, it was a connection carrier not owned by Delta...period. I have seen first hand how DELTA takes care of troops and it would make you proud.

Second, If you or anyone really wanted to give up your seat, you would have stood up like a MAN as soon as the boarding door was being shut and you could see the soldier was not getting on.

Action speaks louder than words....you got home that night she didn't. You're not a hero for writing your story.

Posted by: kjm at September 25, 2004 08:42 PM

I would just like to say, That these brave souls that serve our country, should get the respect they deserve, these soldiers have to pay for everything, where is our tax dollars, i guess its not going to the military...that soldier should of kept her seat, the other passenger was late, thats too bad. well lets just pray this never happens again, and our military personnal, deserves the respect they earned.....thank you

Posted by: Diane Stawarz at September 29, 2004 12:32 PM

I would just like to say, That these brave souls that serve our country, should get the respect they deserve, these soldiers have to pay for everything, where is our tax dollars, i guess its not going to the military...that soldier should of kept her seat, the other passenger was late, thats too bad. well lets just pray this never happens again, and our military personnal, deserves the respect they earned.....thank you

Posted by: Diane Stawarz at September 29, 2004 12:32 PM