Why did Delta Air lines cancel Julienne Battalia’s flight?
She was flying from Seattle to Montreal via New York on Jan. 22, when snowstorms started bearing down on the northeast.
But she breathed a sigh of relief when her connecting flight from JFK to Montreal, which was supposed to depart in the evening, appeared to escape the wrath of the blizzard.
“Then I learned that my flight to Montreal was canceled due to lack of crew,” she says.
Who cares? A canceled flight is a canceled flight, right?
“I was not given any coupon, a refund, a place to sleep — nothing!” she says. “When I called Delta a week later, I was told the flight was canceled because of the weather. No reimbursement.”
Would it have made a difference if Delta was experiencing a crew shortage?
Actually, that’s something Delta’s contract of carriage — the legal agreement between Battalia and the airline — addresses in its Rule 240. (Ah, remember the old Rule 240? Don’t get me started.)
C. Delta’s Liability For Additional Amenities in the Event of Schedule Changes, Delays and Flight Cancellations
Except as provided above, Delta shall have no liability if the flight cancellation, diversion or
delay was due to force majeure. As used in this rule, “force majeure” means actual,
threatened or reported:
(1) Weather conditions or acts of God
(2) Riots, civil unrest, embargoes, war, hostilities, or unsettled international conditions
(3) Strikes, work stoppages, slowdowns, lockout, or any other labor-related dispute
(4) Government regulation, demand, directive or requirement
(5) Shortages of labor, fuel, or facilities
(6) Any other condition beyond Delta’s control or any fact not reasonably foreseen by Delta
Hmm, Delta lets itself off the hook for a lot of things, doesn’t it? But I’ve emphasized sections 1 and 5 because they specifically pertain to Battalia’s case.
Delta wouldn’t do anything for her even if it was a crew shortage.
Now, just because it’s allowed to do this to passengers doesn’t make it right. Delta should have taken care of Battalia, if for no other reason than that in order to get to Montreal, it scheduled a connection in through New York. Delta decided to hub-and-spoke, sending her through a storm-battered JFK. That’s its responsibility, and it needs to own it.
It kills me to slide this into the “Case Dismissed” file because I think the airline should have paid for a hotel room so she could take the next flight out. Indeed, there’s a vast gray area of cases that even the airline adhesion contracts can’t address.
I think Battalia would have more luck reaching out to one of Delta’s executive contacts, which will probably send her an apology and a gift card (their standard response). But unfortunately, she’s on the wrong side of its contract. Not a good place to be.