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I’m just off the Diamond Medallion line with an excellent old-timer agent, who, despite her best efforts was unable to book an award ticket for me.
The reason: two nights ago Delta rolled out a major system update that has crippled booking functionality. This agent said “we are all frustrated” and are sending in their feedback in the hope things improve.
In the past, agents could manually piece together itineraries by schedule. That in the past year has become hit or miss in terms of pricing. If an agent ever tells you they are checking with the “international ticketing desk,” be prepared to get ripped off with an incorrect price.
(International Ticketing Desk example: I recently had an Australia-US award previously booked that I tried to swap the final segment, LAX-SEA, where a better connection was now pricing at the low award price. Should have been even exchange and in years past consistently would have been reissued without fuss. First agent went to the international ticketing desk multiple times to have them insist on over a 40,000-mile fare increase. I was time debating before I hung up, called back, got an agent who knew how to do it herself and the even exchange was done in moments for, correctly, no miles difference.)
Like the Website
This system update is designed to work “like the website,” which if the website had proper functionality we wouldn’t need to be calling in for booking assistance. Currently it cannot pull up results with more than 3 segments. The agent I dealt with tried several times to find anyone of her colleagues or in ticketing who had found a way to get the new system to accept schedule input and all failed or gave the unhelpful, “what is available is what the system says.”
What’s worse, legacy systems like Delta Term that do work, may formallly be on the way out, even as agents who know how to use them dwindle to a precious few superstars. Every Kenya Airways award I’ve booked with Delta SkyMiles has needed Delta Term to pull it trough.
The flights I wanted tonight, a trip from Perth to Johannesburg, are indeed complicated, with 5 segments involving Garuda and Kenyan, though can be pulled up in two chunks on SkyTeam partner Air France.
Optimistic or Not
The agent is trying to be optimistic that functionality will be restored. She feels Delta will listen to the litany of complaints from her and colleagues. This after all is a system they’ve had for 5 years, not a totally new system, so things should be able to be fixed or rolled back.
I gave this agent a Job Well Done cert for fighting the good fight for Delta’s flyers. She cares about correctly booking award tickets.
I am less optimistic than her, though. We are still nowehere near the functionality nwa.com had a decade ago and not moving in that direction. From Delta’s perspective, a dumbed down system reduces training and skill requirements of future agents. They don’t mind having a terrible website, indeed how many millions of miles have be recaptured over the years through deceptive and poor functionality? (one-ways pricing as round-trip, etc)
Delta flyers, have you been battling the system update this week, too?