As Delta’s Operation Melts Down, Their Social Media Team Loses It

The once-stellar reputation of Delta Air Lines is falling as its operational reliability fades. After melting down last weekend, they’re doing the same thing again.

Delta cancelled nearly 10% of its flights on Saturday, and delayed another 16%. That doesn’t even count the flights it cancelled in advance – but with little notice – to prevent just this sort of thing from happening. In contrast, United cancelled 1% of its flights, American cancelled only 8 flights and Southwest only 4 flights as of Saturday evening.

Customers can’t get through to the airline for help (here’s the trick).

And Delta’s social media has had it with passengers and their impatience.

5000 retweets and a couple hundred replies later, it’s become a meme.

Some people – mostly with a service background themselves- applaud Daisy on the social media team going full Clerks on a customer just looking to get somewhere. Others love the Michael Douglas in Falling Down aspect of it While some are just here for the schadenfreude.

Others came to Daisy’s defense directly.

Daisy can get the job done, it seems, but not at the kind of scale that Delta’s operation has been coming down on her. This is Delta’s fault, not hers or the customers’. And truth be told Delta’s twitter team could use a little sass and authenticity – the way you’d get from American Airlines social media back in the day.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just as Delta’s Skymiles became Sky Rubles, their operations have become Sky Rubble and their angry customers Sky Rabble.

  2. Delta always had a small work force, comparing to AA or UAL. They are the most vulnerable at staff shortages, yet, that didn’t stop them from removing mask mandate and get their employees sick.

  3. A whole mess but I get it it’s frustrating when you are short staffed

  4. Someone on hold for 4.5 MINUTES!! Oh,. the humanity of it all!
    Try Qantas, where 4.5 HOURS is unremarkable in 2022.
    And American Airlines, where up to an hour is common.

  5. I think the lady typed it in the wrong way, but the image shows “4:43:25″… That looks more like 4 hrs and 43 mins. Either way, it’s ridiculous for sure.

  6. … and yet the job-robot on the job application site constantly rejects applicants. Yes, I do understand you want top talent, but how long before staffing shortage paints a dark picture of overworked and fatigued working environment? By then, the reputation and damage would be irreversible.

  7. This is all the more reason why you should never have only one PNR for each flight you intend to take. Always book two flights and cancel the one the les convenient or the one you don’t get upgraded on once it’s clear the primary is a go. There is zero reason not to do this now that there are no change fees

  8. DL’s gold standard of reliability for hold time averages on the phone is 24 to 48 hours. Unless the hold times go over a month, they will not hire more. They will squeeze every bit out of the current workforce, spoil people’s vacations and still self-proclaim that they are the most reliable airline. What a joke!

    I can only imagine the horror of everyone who was duped into booking on DL this weekend for their ‘reliability’.

  9. I’ve had a non-urgent Delta issue for several months. There was a system where the computer answered my call and set up a call-back, telling me about how much time it would take. The few times I used it things were perfect. I wouldn’t mind using that, even if it’s ‘next Tuesday about noon’, since I am not going to sit on hold for more than half an hour.

    As travel providers have now discovered that blaming it all ‘on the virus’ works, they’re obviously not rehiring staff. Americans are seeing a side of capitalism they haven’t before experienced at this level. As long as people keep travelling, why should the companies increase their operating expenses to take care of those customers? Flying people around isn’t the game, folks, the game is generating revenue. Income minus expenses equals revenue. Shareholders like that and top management is compensated on the performance of company stock.

  10. You bunch of whiners. Don’t you realize that Delta is the best. This must all be fake news. Delta comes directly from the hand of God and is as pure as freshly fallen Tibetan snow.

  11. Delta is clueless in dealing with anything other than ideal flying conditions and it’s been that way for years.
    They’re pathetic.
    With each “event” employees demonstrate little structural intelligent or mature decision making.
    In fact, it keeps getting worse.

  12. huey judy,
    Delta has specifically said it is hiring thousands of employees this year so your statement is incorrect.

    Problem is that many people have simply left the workforce; after multiple rounds of stimulus, the workforce participation rate is the lowest in history.

    Let’s not forget that American and Southwest BOTH cancelled thousands of flights over a space of a couple days – 20% + of their operation. Spirit was more than double that percentage for days in a row. And the DOT itself showed that United cancelled a higher percentage of flights in December 2021 than Delta.

    Other airlines had much worse problems during the pandemic. It is never fun to be in the wringer but the chances are very high that DL will get more people trained and walk away from some demand this summer – which WILL result in higher fares.
    Part of the reason that air fares are so high is because of labor shortages.

    Some people including Gary – who couldn’t find a Sky Club in Detroit if his life depended on it – love to put Delta on a pedestal so they can then knock them off.
    Don’t worry, Gary, Delta will get its act together and you can return to moaning about American – which has garnered more of your negative emotion than any other airline – and yet you still stick with them – which really says alot about you.

  13. Dear Mr. Leff,

    If I wanted to read Twitter, I would go to

    I read your website for “Thought Leadership” and this article offers up little more than a string of vapid tweets, not to mention needless drama. “Meltdown.” Excuse me, Gary Leff. That is not the kind of hyperbole I would expect from a thought leader.

    Humorous as Delta’s odd response may be, it is obviously unprofessional. As somebody with customer facing work experience from my youth, I certainly have empathy, and I see where the stress is coming from. But, no sympathy. Being an adult is about emotion regulation. Being in a customer facing role, even more so. The power dynamic between a customer and the corporation (or agent thereof) is that the customer gets to be impatient, because they are a paying customer and we show respect to people who give us their money. The corporation does not get to be impatient, if for no other reason than the corporation relies on repeat business.

    Impatience is not always a bad thing. Some would argue that it gets results. New Yorkers are notoriously impatient people. They are the financial capital of the world. And, they are the only city with helicopter service from downtown to the airport, turning a potential 2 hour drive on the interstate to a 5 minute ride in a chopper. I wouldn’t advise this, for environmental and safety reasons, in routine commuting. But when one is in a pinch, then to have this option available, is unique. There is demand because impatient New Yorkers demanded it.

    The only way forward in airline customer service is legislation. We need Congress to pass a law saying that a customer’s hold time must not exceed a certain threshold, or the airline must pay a fine so large that there is a business incentive to hire more agents. We need to write this law in a way that closes obvious loopholes, such as agents rushing on the phone and leaving requests unfulfilled just to move onto the next customer in the queue. This type of legislation will push airfares up. And so be it! Look at airfares already, today vs. 5 months ago.

  14. Don’t you people get it! Me and my team are busy focusing on voting rights, climate change, and people’s sexual preferences. We don’t have time for your petty problems. We’re all going to die in 10 years.

  15. Regarding their operational meltdowns, serious question but what is it about holiday weekends? Don’t the flight schedules run for at least a month at a time? I don’t think the flight schedule is much higher than last weekend, yet last week didn’t see the issues we’re seeing now. Same for their previous meltdowns.

  16. Does anyone else miss Freebird–the insurance one could buy for whenever a flight was significantly delayed or cancelled that would buy a walk-up flight for another carrier?

    I am wondering if there are any companies that currently offer that type of service.

  17. Like most airlines, the CEO is rarely held to account. Bastain has had so many failures on his watch, one wonders how he can be compensated for such incompetence. However, that is the trend of most murikan corporations. Look at the incompetence of Ford, GM, and GE. However, the incompetent CEO rakes in millions whether the company fails or succeeds. And the 50K MBA crowd is also never held to account. I’ve never seen senior management own their mistakes. As George Carlin said, “It is just one big corporate party, and you are not invited.”

  18. I’ll take Delta and its comparatively infrequent operational problems over the other airborne dumpster fires any day.

  19. Amazing how it works: remove mask requirements, and employees in contact with thousands of people per day get sick and can’t work, forcing an airline to

    Mind boggling. With 2+ years of experience with COVID, who would have ever predicted this? I mean, what a curve ball out of left field!

    Oh, the irony!

  20. Everyone, now try to bring down the #1 Airline in the US! Delta could have a melt down everyday & they’d still remain #1 in America. Sorry lowly haters. The truth is the truth.

  21. @jake COVID isn’t the main factor for the shortage. I know your disappointed but you can stop wear your mask!

  22. The same employees who were required to get vaccinated or lose their job. How’s that working out?

  23. I think Delta need to borrow Angela from British Airways’ social media for a little while.

  24. So is it time for Delta to reinvest in their loyalty program, now that their operations are as bad or worse as everyone else’s?

  25. Delta is simply the leading edge of a complete national collapse in customer service. For instance, even if you are a large advertiser on Facebook, there is no customer service of any kind, and you will NEVER get any personal response from them, even if your account is on fire. (I’m kidding about the fire, but it really is that bad.) Look at X1, a credit card company with no telephone customer service whatever, no website for customers, and no statements by mail or even e-mail (you have to download it from the app). And as for Delta, they jack up transatlantic business-class flights from 50,000 miles to 270,000 miles, and they completely gut the SkyBonus program with no warning whatsoever — with no consequences. For all of these companies, it’s either customer service or stock buybacks — choose one. In three or four years, the entire economy will collapse, because everyone will be on hold at the same time. We are seeing the Customer Service Apocalypse.

  26. David,
    Delta was the ONLY one of the large US airline that did not have a vax mandate – and still achieved 95% plus compliance.

    And the holiday is over so Delta’s operations are returning to normal. Every one of their operational crises during the pandemic have been over holidays. They have relied too much on overtime to staff the holidays and it has repeatedly backfired.

    That said, the reason why Delta’s cancellation rate and on-time has remained better than the industry is because holidays make up such a low percentage of any month. Whether that changes with May will be seen when DOT data finally comes out.

  27. Tim Dunn in the house!
    Maybe people should avoid traveling on holidays?

  28. @Tim Dunn – AA only kind of sort of had a vax mandate, they begged and cajoled employees to claim exemptions, while Delta did more to strong arm employees on vaccines through exorbitant health insurance premium surcharges for the unvaccinated

  29. I work in customer service and totally get where Daisy is coming from. Customers can be impatient, obnoxious, rude, selfish …. and full of misinformation, spouting off incorrect theories and providing less than accurate information. People are the worst.

  30. For some reason, I derive pleasure when reading about the problems/complaints about Delta, AA and the rest of the overpriced/bad operators. Each time I read about the way these airlines operate, I am so glad that I only fly Southwest and have flown them for over 35 years without one complaint. Some people have more money than brains. So go ahead and enjoy your overpriced tickets, bag fees, change fees, seat fees,etc. for as long as you tolerate all of the crap these airlines put you thru, they will never change. —- Ed B. – you said it and I agree.

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