Passenger Strikes Back wins against Delta

WSurf

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On Feb. 21, 2008, Mitchell Berns heard every flier's two least favorite words: weather related.

Citing snow, Delta Airlines was canceling his flight from Las Vegas to New York City and rescheduling him for a redeye connecting in Boston. With 47% of all delays so far in 2008 caused by weather (up 5% from last year), most fliers can relate. And they know that normally this story ends with a bleary-eyed tale recounted the next day at the water cooler. Not this time. It ends in court, with our traveler $838 richer.

Berns, 55, is a securities litigator with Lane Sash & Larrabee in White Plains, N.Y. On that night he was flying home from a romantic getaway with his wife, who was pregnant with twins. Seeing that other airlines' planes were still departing as scheduled, Berns asked Delta to refund his ticket so that he could book one of those flights. They told him (politely, as he recalls) that weather-related cancellations or delays are not the airline's fault and do not come with a refund.


Berns checked the National Weather Service report. It said snow that day was expected at five the next morning -- hours after his flight was scheduled to land. He and several other passengers from his Delta flight easily booked a JetBlue flight departing at the same time. His tab: $938. He landed at J.F.K. on schedule.

Back at home, Berns did what any consumer with $15 (in New York City) and a working knowledge of English (or Spanish, in most states) can do: He filed a small-claims suit against Delta for $938. Delta did not show up to defend itself, so on June 12 he won a default judgment.

When a legal analyst from the airline called him two weeks later to negotiate a payment, he declined an offer of frequent-flier miles ("Confederate currency," in his words) and made a counteroffer: If you pay me within two weeks, I'll knock $100 off. Delta agreed but asked for a confidentiality agreement. Berns said they couldn't have both, and Delta took the discount. (A Delta spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

"The lesson is, Don't let them bully you with bogus cancellations," says Berns. The whole thing took him about four hours, he recalls, resulting in earnings of less than half his hourly billing rate. "But I'd do it again," he says. "That's how good it felt."
 

DrewBlows

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When a legal analyst from the airline called him two weeks later to negotiate a payment, he declined an offer of frequent-flier miles ("Confederate currency," in his words) and made a counteroffer: If you pay me within two weeks, I'll knock $100 off. Delta agreed but asked for a confidentiality agreement. Berns said they couldn't have both, and Delta took the discount. (A Delta spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)
I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Do the same lawyers who sold a confidentiality agreement for $100 negotiate labor agreements? We can't beat these idiots?

sigh...
 

Soverytired

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Good for him.

You know, I have a great deal more sympathy for people take care of things in a reasonable manner like this (sue in small claims for actual damages) than I do for a-holes who try to justify ticket costs plus $1million in perceived BS "damages.

If more passengers did this, airlines would have to come up with more reasonable rules for the flying public. They're simply understaffed to send lawyers to 1,000 small claims courts each week.

Kudos, my man. Kudos.
 

wings421

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"The lesson is, Don't let them bully you with bogus cancellations," says Berns. The whole thing took him about four hours, he recalls, resulting in earnings of less than half his hourly billing rate. "But I'd do it again," he says. "That's how good it felt."
This guy is making some serious jack. 838/4 = 209.5

At a minimum this guy is making 419 an hour?!! Not bad.
 

TWA Dude

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At a minimum this guy is making 419 an hour?!! Not bad.
Just FYI but the billing rate is far greater than what the lawyer actually gets paid. When I did paralegal work my time was billed at $85/hr but I was paid $35.
 

General Lee

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How much money did we save on that particular flight in fuel savings for cancelling it? Maybe it was more than $838?

Bye Bye--General Lee
 

say again

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How much money did we save on that particular flight in fuel savings for cancelling it? Maybe it was more than $838?

Bye Bye--General Lee
I hope the savings were worth losing customers.
 

General Lee

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I hope the savings were worth losing customers.
They took Jetblue anyway according to the article. If they have another "Valentine's day Massacre"---they will come back to us.

Bye Bye--General Lee
 

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They took Jetblue anyway according to the article. If they have another "Valentine's day Massacre"---they will come back to us.

Bye Bye--General Lee

That's the problem with many airlines today. Why not treat the customers right in the first place, so you don't have to "rely" on other airlines f-ing up to get them back?? Sad, very sad how customer service is non-existent. Honestly, I only fly JetBlue or SW when I have the choice, just for that mentality.
 

General Lee

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That's the problem with many airlines today. Why not treat the customers right in the first place, so you don't have to "rely" on other airlines f-ing up to get them back?? Sad, very sad how customer service is non-existent. Honestly, I only fly JetBlue or SW when I have the choice, just for that mentality.

Want some cheese with your whine? Give me a break. Things happen. Sorry. You and I don't know the whole story. And, have a great time flying Jetblue and SWA to ATL the next time you have to go there. Fantastic. Go for it.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

Scope out RJ's

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That's the problem with many airlines today. Why not treat the customers right in the first place, so you don't have to "rely" on other airlines f-ing up to get them back?? Sad, very sad how customer service is non-existent. Honestly, I only fly JetBlue or SW when I have the choice, just for that mentality.
Not to mention all that you have in common cleaning cabins and lav's!:laugh:
 

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Want some cheese with your whine? Give me a break. Things happen. Sorry. You and I don't know the whole story. And, have a great time flying Jetblue and SWA to ATL the next time you have to go there. Fantastic. Go for it.


Bye Bye--General Lee

Who's whining General?? Seems like you. You don't like what somebody says and get all defensive. Grow up. I know the truth hurts, but it is what it is. I've flown enough to know that customer service at the majors suck. As for going to ATL, there's always AirTran. :p
 

Noserider76

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That's the problem with many airlines today. Why not treat the customers right in the first place, so you don't have to "rely" on other airlines f-ing up to get them back?? Sad, very sad how customer service is non-existent. Honestly, I only fly JetBlue or SW when I have the choice, just for that mentality.
DL proactively cancelled the flight. They do that for various reasons when a big weather event is forecast. Just because one airline with a history of weather difficulties happened to make it in this case doesn't really mean jack. This guy could just have easily ended up in a divert with no gates or jetways available and stuck on an aircraft for hours with overflowing lavs, no food or water, and no a/c. DL was trying to avoid that possibility. This guy really had no case in my opinion. They just couldn't be bothered with him.
 
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Oh come el capitan, you know what I mean. All those lav fumes got what little brain you have spinning?
Hahaha.:rolleyes: Weak.

Do you think I work for either of those companies??
Just stating the obvious. It's just not this event I'm talking about either. It's a problem w/ the airlines whether or not you can see it. So go ahead w/ the insults (like it really bothers me), shows your maturity, and proves that there is truth to what I say.
 

say again

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DL proactively cancelled the flight. They do that for various reasons when a big weather event is forecast. Just because one airline with a history of weather difficulties happened to make it in this case doesn't really mean jack. This guy could just have easily ended up in a divert with no gates or jetways available and stuck on an aircraft for hours with overflowing lavs, no food or water, and no a/c. DL was trying to avoid that possibility. This guy really had no case in my opinion. They just couldn't be bothered with him.
I'm talking about their customer service as a whole, not just this one event.
 

General Lee

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Who's whining General?? Seems like you. You don't like what somebody says and get all defensive. Grow up. I know the truth hurts, but it is what it is. I've flown enough to know that customer service at the majors suck. As for going to ATL, there's always AirTran. :p
All defensive? Don't you know there are things that go on out there that you and I have NO KNOWLEDGE of, yet you get into the "no customer service" shiate. Come on. Things happen. And, go enjoy Airtran too.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

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All defensive? Don't you know there are things that go on out there that you and I have NO KNOWLEDGE of, yet you get into the "no customer service" shiate. Come on. Things happen. And, go enjoy Airtran too.


Bye Bye--General Lee

OK General. Things do happen that we have no control over, fine, I'm not disputing that at all. What I am saying is that customer service in general is going to SH!T!! This is from personal experiences, as well as listening to CSR's talking to others. I see you disagree with that, but many customers certainly don't. It's sad, but it is what it is ,and nothing is going to change unless the airlines decide to make changes. Take it for what it is, but the statistics prove my statements.
 
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