Why Customers Aren't as Pissed at Delta's DIA Delays as They Were at Frontier's

The Delta counter at DIA this morning.
The Delta counter at DIA this morning. CBS4 Twitter
For the second time in a matter of days, technical problems with a major carrier have caused significant problems at Denver International Airport — the site of two days' worth of protests against President Donald Trump's refugee ban. Last weekend, it was United, which grounded all domestic flights following a computer outage. This time around, it's Delta, which delayed or cancelled at least 250 flights as a result of its own computer snafus. Yet the amount of anger these issues have generated among passengers can't compare to the vitriol stirred up by troubles at Frontier Airlines in December.

Why not? Frontier's slow-rolling nightmare, which was related to weather (a significant but far-from-epic snowstorm) rather than technology, took days to resolve and was marked by confusion and poor communication. In contrast, the bumps experienced by United and Delta were largely addressed in hours, with the companies going out of their way to smooth things over with unhappy customers.

In the case of Delta, which has only cancelled one flight in Denver today (out of a reported eighty nationwide), the company has reportedly agreed to forego its standard fee for changing flights for anyone who'd been scheduled to travel on Sunday or Monday and rebooks by Friday — and that's not to mention refunds and future-travel vouchers being handed out to anyone who was inconvenienced.

These moves didn't completely defuse the displeasure of some passengers, as the tweets below make clear:

click to enlarge This morning at DIA. - 9NEWS TWITTER
This morning at DIA.
9News Twitter
donny got peed on: "@Delta why in the world is Delta 771 still sitting on the goddamn tarmac in Denver? We were supposed to fly at 4."

misa: "Delta sucks:
on the way to Denver:
1. the plane workers were late, delaying our flight
2. the water in the plane wasn't working, delaying"

Truth Adjace: "'The. Entire. Company. Of. Delta. Is. Shut. Down.' -Says this guy nonchalantly at Denver Airport. Ugh."

Jamie Burkhart Dundr: "@DeltaAssist the check-in staff @DENAirport wearing your logo are RUDE and an embarrassment to the #Delta brand #DIA #denver #resist"

However, much of the other Twitter communication with the carrier was much more benign. Some examples:

Jerry Smith: "@Delta, still stuck in Denver after computer glitch. Flight was suppose to take off at 4:25pm. I certainly hope Delta takes care of us!!"

yonderbiscuit: ?"@Delta is flight 1110 Denver to Atlanta delayed today?"

Jason: "@Delta what is going on? I fly out of TPA tomorrow morning to Denver with a stop in Atlanta. Will there be delays?"

Jeremy Screeton: "@Delta 1609 to Minneapolis was cancelled. We are trying to book Denver to Detroit for the morning. Any help?"

Shane Leever: "#delta whats happening to my 7pm flight from LAX to Denver? Hotel or nah..?"

Cecilia Nelson-Hurt: "Thankful that the #delta systems are back up and we can get moving. (@ Denver International Airport - @denairport)"

And then there's this tweet, which shows what a positive effect good customer service can have:

bg.: "Hey @Delta the ladies at the Denver ticketing desk just did an awesome job at making sure several people didn't miss their flight! Thanks!"

One angle on the Frontier delays in December at DIA. - @MOBERMILLER
One angle on the Frontier delays in December at DIA.
Contrast these messages with the ones below, which we originally shared in our December 19, 2016, post "Angry Customer Reactions to Frontier Airlines Delays, Cancellations at DIA":

Sam Muenchen: "Lands in Denver at 1 am... Gets bags at 5:30 pm... thank you Frontier."

Kyle Ruger: "Awesome when Frontier decides to just up and cancel your flight back to Denver."

Zim: "@Dame_Lillard bro you guys flying near Denver soon? Frontier screwed up my little sis flight to Denver now she won't be home for Christmas."

Hawaiin Hoss: "Come on #Frontier let us know when we get to leave Las Vegas on Flight 608 to Denver. We have been waiting for several hours on this plane."

John Booth: "Driving to Denver from New Orleans because the next available Frontier flight was Thursday. Thanks @FlyFrontier @FrontierCare #Travel."

Jamie Grey: "Now acting as emotional support animal for my friend whose Denver Frontier flight got canceled. #holidaytravel."

Donald Bolin: "@Lady_TitansBB @FrontierCare Frontier has the worst Customer Care in the planet. I stopped flying them into Denver years ago."

The difference in tone suggests that the stature of Delta and United won't be permanently impacted by the latest glitches, while Frontier is still struggling to restore its reputation more than a month after a December its employees and administrators would like to forget.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts