Linwood Brown has one of those jobs that some of us would die for. Recently, his work paid for him to fly Delta’s new first class, Delta One, from LAX to Taipei.
As part of his ticket, Brown could use the exclusive premium check-in experience at LAX.
And that’s where his trip went off the rails.
It’s supposed to be a carefree check-in, where you sit in a lounge while Delta’s employees take care of your paperwork.
But Brown’s experience was anything but carefree. Delta lost his passport.
Yes, you read that correctly: Delta took his passport as part of the check-in and lost it. They think they may have given it to another customer, but they can’t be sure. Delta knows they received his passport because they checked him in for the flight.
As a result, Brown’s employer had to send someone to Taipei at the last minute to cover Brown’s work assignment. His employer also paid to expedite a new passport for him since his job requires that he travel overseas.
Delta’s offer? A $100 gift card.
If only Brown was an elite in Delta’s frequent flier program, they would have taken care of him. That’s what Delta’s marketing department would tell you.
But wait. Brown is a Diamond elite in their program, for three years running. It doesn’t get any higher than that.
No offer from Delta to cover the 20,000 qualification miles that he lost when he couldn’t fly. No offer for the 60,000 award miles.
No offer from Delta to cover any ID theft that might occur since they gave his passport to a third party.
I’ll admit that last one sounded like a little bit of a stretch until Brown reported that someone had attempted to hack his checking account twice since his passport went missing.
Connected or just bad luck? Who knows?
Brown seems to be a poster child for our help, but what should we ask for?
Here’s what Brown requested we seek: “I’d like to let the public know about the sloppy procedures at the LAX Delta One check-in area that lost my passport (what if I was from Taipei and headed home? I would have been stuck in the U.S. indefinitely), and I’m looking for proper compensation for what I think is a major [screw-up] by Delta Air Lines.”
OK, so we’ve achieved the first objective, but how much should Delta owe for consequential damages in this case?
Brown’s employer paid for his new passport, but Brown received a disciplinary letter in his personnel file and was unable to work, or get paid, until he was able to reapply for the visas he needed to enter China and India.
This was a simple mistake with large secondary effects. For how much should Delta be responsible?
At a minimum, Delta should pay for Brown or his employer’s out-of-pocket expenses. You would also think that Delta would do something a little more generous than $100 for one of their Diamond elites.