Senegalese travelers unhappy with Delta Airlines but lack options

There was frustration in the air among the more than 150 passengers looking to board Delta’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft heading to Dakar, Senegal on July 17, 2021 with the hope of celebrating Eid-al-Adah, one of the most important Muslim holidays, home.

With mandated check-in at least 3 hours before the scheduled 7:30 p.m. flight, travelers were first told to head to gate B38. Then, messages were sent to alert them that their flight would now depart at 8 p.m. then 9:30 p.m. at gate B34 and finally 10 p.m. at gate B30.

It was past 10 p.m. and a Delta employee explained that they had been waiting for a plane going to Nice, France to leave the gate before the one heading to Dakar could come in.

Passenger One, woke up that day at 3 a.m. to board a plane from Washington DC to New York. He arrived at JFK at 6 a.m., picked up his luggage then waited all day to check-in to his 7:30 p.m. flight to Dakar.

“I have a cousin who lives in the Bronx. If I didn’t have to get my luggage, I would have left the airport to pay him a visit and come back later for my evening flight. Instead, I’ve been stuck here since 6 a.m.”

It was Passenger One ‘s third trip with Delta but his misadventures didn’t stop there.

“They told me today when I was checking in that I would have to change my return date,” he added. “They told me to call customer service, but I didn’t even bother. You can’t reach anyone these days. This is the worst trip ever and I will never take Delta again.”

Another passenger traveling with a young child missed her flight the day prior along with about 30 other travelers. She tried to rebook her flight and was told that she could only travel Sunday via Paris. She wasn’t satisfied so she tried her luck by calling customer service. At first, she was told the July 17 flight was fully booked, but she waited and called again, later that day. That’s when she was put on the same July 17 flight that a prior representative told her was fully booked. She was now waiting like everyone else at Gate 30.

“I was talking to my husband earlier and he was asking why Delta changed our gates several times. He said: ‘They don’t seem to respect Africans.’”

Passenger Two has been flying with Delta for more than 15 years and when asked why she keeps using Delta, she replied:

“I have no choice. This is the only direct flight to Dakar. The tickets are not cheap, and the customer service is bad. With no option to be called back, I waited more than 4 hours on the phone for a chance to speak to a customer service representative.”

Despite the long delay and 3 changes of gates, Passenger Three, who has been traveling with Delta for more than 5 years, didn’t seem to be bothered.

“This is the first time we are having issues with Delta. I was able to get a seat next to my wife at check in and they email and/or text you to let you know about changes.”

The only thing that would separate him from Delta, he said, would be cheaper prices.

Passenger 4 was outraged!

“They don’t respect us,” he shouted! “How many times did they change the gates? And the ticket is super expensive for a 7-hour flight. How much does it cost to go to Paris or London? And it is about the same distance!”

He also came to realize the limitations of a new basic ticket introduced by Delta that only allows one piece of luggage with no refund or exchange.

“I could only have one luggage. One luggage! And the plane is too small,” he added. “You are not comfortable. We don’t have a choice because there is no other option, a National or African company. The lack of competition explains the issues that African customers are having now.”

The Delta flight DL216 actually departed on July 17, 2021 after 11 p.m.

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