Delta Air Lines mapped out a series of fixes to alleviate mass cancellations like those that plagued the carrier after an April thunderstorm and disrupted travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people.
“We know some [employees] are still taking care of customers who were impacted by the storm. Thanks for pulling Delta out of the ditch,” they wrote.
A big cause of the meltdown was strain on Delta’s crew scheduling and crew tracking system, which left planes without pilots and flight attendants in Atlanta and across the country and exacerbated flight cancellations for days
Crew scheduling is a combination of an automated and manual system. Crews wait for calls back from a crew scheduling desk, which during the mass cancellations was overloaded with calls, as were Delta’s customer service lines.
The Delta meltdown came right in the middle of a busy spring break travel period, disrupting the trips of thousands of families with young children in tow and leaving them stranded in airports or in cities away from home.
Employee vacations over spring break also made it more difficult for Delta to respond to the problems, the company acknowledged.
“We’ve learned from that and will make sure our Spring Break staffing levels match that of other busy travel periods so we can be better prepared to recover from an even like we saw,” according to the memo.
The cancellations were also exacerbated by the storm’s hit to Atlanta, then to its two hubs in New York. The storm that hit the Northeast “carried the final blow and was the tipping point that drove our prolonged recovery,” according to Bastian and West. They said “the cumulative effect of storms hitting multiple hubs overwhelmed our crew tracking and scheduling processes and technology.”
Among the planned fixes are plans to develop more mobile capabilities for agents to check passengers in and board them.
Delta also plans to double the size of the crew tracking staff during irregular operations and add phone lines, put crew scheduling staff in crew lounges to help reroute them, improve the hotel accommodation process and develop more formal plans for irregular operations of varying severity.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.