Flight delayed over 2 hours? What’s it worth to you?

One of the worst situations you can experience as a passenger is sitting on the tarmac waiting for what seems like forever because of a mechanical delay.  Even worse is when the flight attendants or the captain don’t keep you well informed as to what’s going on.  This past weekend Ben and I were traveling on an Alaska Airlines flight from North Carolina and we had a 2 hour tarmac delay, and here’s a story of why I love Alaska Airlines and how I feel they did an amazing job of handling this situation.

We moved to Seattle last year and since then have become Alaska Loyalists.  We love the route network, the mileage redemption opportunities, and the customer service… ESPECIALLY the customer service.  I’ve written before about how Alaska Airlines feels like you’re flying with family, and when something goes wrong as it did this past weekend, it shows in how they treat their passengers.

Alaska Beyond

Alaska Beyond Services

The flight was scheduled to depart at 5:50PM and we boarded (as usual) early.  Ben and I were seated in First Class (www.NoMasCoach.com afterall!) seats 1A and 1C, so we had a front row view of what was about to happen.  The captain was heading back and forth out of the cockpit and talking to the gate agents and the flight attendants.  Turns out that there was a problem with the oxygen masks/communication systems in the cockpit, so in the case of an emergency, the pilots wouldn’t be able to have their oxygen masks on and talk at the same time.  Oops.

Shortly after they realized it would be an extended delay of over 30 minutes they took drink orders and started in the first class cabin.  In coach they offered water and snacks to the passengers.

After an hour we received an update that we had a solution and they were finding the parts and the people needed to fix it.  More snacks and more drinks for all passengers, and in first class they made sure the liquor was flowing and opened up the snack basket and started to pass that around.

We noticed that there were two guys that kept coming up from coach into the galley and were talking to both the FA’s and the pilots.  Turns out that one of the guys worked in Raleigh as a ground supervisor and the other person was a maintenance supervisor for Alaska Airlines.  They were both at a training event in North Carolina and were flying back to Seattle for more training.  They got out their laptops and started working furiously on getting the right people involved that needed to be there to fix the situation, and also when it came time to fill out the paperwork, the maintenance supervisor started getting all of it ready and actually sped up the process by a good thirty minutes.

All throughout the delay the Raleigh employee kept asking us if we were ok, apologizing for the delay, and started up with some small talk, all just to make sure that we were being taken care of.  He had only been an employee for a short time (being that Alaska had been in Raleigh for a week at that point) but the company culture had already been ingrained into him, and it showed.  You could tell that they really felt bad about the situation, and wanted to make sure that we were all OK with it.

Alaska Airlines Champagne

Alaska Airlines Champagne

At 2 hours and 5 minutes into the delay the gate agent came back and let us know that we were ready to push back.  She also handed a stack of papers to the flight attendants and said that they should make sure to pass them out to all the passengers.  Here’s a picture of what they looked like.

Alaska Apology Letter

Alaska Apology Letter

Pretty sweet deal, right?  It’s their way of saying “we know we screwed up and messed up your day, so let us send you a little something to make it up to you.”  And best of all was the part that they are being proactive about the entire situation.  They aren’t waiting for you to write them and complain, rather they are stepping up front and doing this for everyone on board.

The next day I got this email from customer service:

Dear Jon,
On behalf of Alaska Airlines, I would like to apologize that your flight was delayed on 10/25/2015. When you made arrangements to travel with us you had every reason to expect that we would deliver you to your destination at the published arrival time and I apologize that this did not occur. As a customer service gesture, I am including a Discount Code. Please reference the appropriate code below at the time of booking. To use your discount, go to alaskaair.com/planbook and enter the Discount Code into the Discount Code field on the right side of the booking form.

Your Discount Code must be ticketed within one year from the date of this email, and is valid for travel between any Alaska Airlines cities up to 330 days beyond the date of ticketing. One discount is allowed per reservation. Any Discount Code value remaining after purchase is forfeited. Discount not valid on all fares, including but not limited to Mileage Plan Award Reservations, Alaska Airlines Vacation packages, tour or contract fares, most discounted First Class fares and many privately filed fares. Complete Discount Code rules and restrictions can be found online at alaskaair.com.

Discount Code XXXXXX, in the amount of $75
Once again, I would like to extend my sincere apologies for your flight experience. Please rest assured that we are reviewing this situation and will do everything we can to ensure that a similar scenario does not occur in the future. I hope that you will accept my invitation to join us on another flight, so that we can demonstrate the high level of service we are typically known for and that you deserve.

Jeff Butler
Vice President
Airport Operations and Customer Service


$75 for a future flight, in my opinion, is a fairly reasonable compensation.  I was asking a lot of my friends and found out that in other instances some airlines only offered a paltry 2,000 miles as a gesture, so I take the $75 as fairly generous.


Yeah, it sucks that we got delayed.  Yeah, it sucks that we got home later than we would have hoped.  But Alaska has always been there for their customers, making sure that no matter what they are trying to make them happy.  $75 for each of us means that we can take a flight somewhere and experience Alaska again.

If you haven’t flown Alaska Airlines yet, I’d invite you to give it a try.  They have a great route network out of Seattle and tons of partners to redeem miles (including for Emirates 1st class!).  Little things like this will keep our business with Alaska year after year.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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1 Comment

  1. Yeah, i lost a whole computer system to an easy last-two-sits-of-a-bottle-of-beer a couple years ago.

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