Delta’s IT crisis is over, but many passengers were left off course

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Thousands of air travelers were stranded after a computer outage caused Delta Airlines to cancel more than 300 flights over the weekend, but many of Delta’s passengers said they did not get a lot of help from the airline weighing their options.

Niagara Falls native Heather Francis said she got vague answers from Delta representatives after finding out her flight to Atlanta was cancelled. She was to catch a connecting flight to Florida, “They gave us this card, they said we will help you re-book–you can’t get through to the phone number.”

Francis said, the Delta staff told her and the other passengers they would be getting an email, and “in 24 to 48 hours, we will tell you how we are going to accommodate you.” So rather than wait for Delta to come around, Heather booked a direct flight to Punta Gorda, Florida, on Allegiant Air at the Niagara Falls Airport.

The breakdown at Delta was especially tough for Heather, who owns a tax accounting firm in Florida, and this is her busy season, “It is pretty frustrating since I am an accountant and this is my time of year to be busy. It is significantly impacting what I am supposed to be doing.”

Charlie Leocha, founder and CEO of Travelers United, a non-profit advocacy group for users of mass transportation, said in a Skype interview, airlines need to take their computer systems more seriously, “The airlines can’t deal with IT as though it is a snowstorm. This is not an act of God.”

All of the airlines have cost their passengers time and money with computer glitches, said Leocha, pointing out this is Delta’s second computer crash since August, “I have listened to them for years talking about how wonderful their systems are how they do a great job, and now we’ve got problem after problem after problem.”

Leocha said just giving passengers their money back after their flight is cancelled, can still leave them deep in the hole, “because you might have booked your trip two months in advance, and you have a round trip to Europe for $600. Now, all of a sudden if you get rid of it, your round trip to Europe is going to cost you $4,000.”

If you have a problem with any airline Leocha said you should file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, if the airline does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction. Complaints should be registered with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

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