Delta and Alitalia really saved the day after an Air France delay my clients in jeopardy of missing an important family event.
My Award Expert clients were flying from Washington to Tel Aviv via Paris on Air France in business class. They used Flying Blue miles to book the ticket. About six hours before departure, we received a text message delay alert from Air France, noting the Washington to Paris flight would be departing nearly two hours late. (It is probably no coincidence that it was the A380 that experienced the delay)
> Read More: Air France A380 Retirement Is Hardly A Surprise
Problem: their connection in Paris was less than two hours. Furthermore, the next two flights to Tel Aviv were not until evening and sold out in business class.
The Air France website did not offer any attractive rebooking options. KLM via Amsterdam with a 13 hour layover…or Air France flights the next day. Neither would allow them to arrive in time for the family function.
This was not the day to deal with the comically poor customer service coming from the Flying Blue call center, so I called Air France reservations…which is handled by Delta in the United States.
A Delta agent answered and I explained the issue. The obvious solution was to rebook them on the Delta New York – Tel Aviv flight, but there was only one business class seat left. My client instructed me to put his wife in business class and him in economy class if there was no other way, but I was determined to find another way.
And so was the Delta agent…I appreciated that he understood the situation, cared, and also went to work coming up with something.
Bless his heart, at one point he came back with a “great solution”…the same Air France flights booked as Delta codeshares. When I informed him that those were the same Air France flights, he profusely apologized and that seemed to make him search even harder.
I noticed that Alitalia had plenty of space and a great schedule from Washington Dulles to Rome to Tel Aviv. Interestingly, the Delta agent independently found the same thing as we both were looking.
My clients were quickly rebooked and were not only able to make their event in Israel, but arrived even earlier than expected…and in a better business class product (Alitalia’s A330 business class seat is much better than the Air France A380).
My point in writing this is that I was impressed 1.) Delta did not hassle me that this was an award ticket and 2.) Delta did not constrain its search for a new itinerary to award space only. In fact, the Alitalia flights were booked as full-fare revenue business class.
I don’t do many phone calls anymore to airlines…my team usually handles that. The client just happened to call my cell phone and I answered during a layover. Since I had some time to address it, I did…it it like continuing education and important to get a feel for dealing with irregular operations on various carriers, especially on award tickets.
Delta, acting on behalf of Air France, did a great job in securing a solution. I wish Lufthansa or Aeroplan made it this easy…