Why I boycotted Delta

I had to fly to Ghana, but the thought of giving business to an airline that treats Ghanaian passengers like pests made my teeth rattle. For the sake of convenience, I was tempted to fly Delta. They have a direct flight from New York to Accra which is fairly inexpensive. However, I am so sick of the poor service they mete out to Ghanaians that I have vowed never to give them business again! My next option was British Airways, but to put it politely, their attendants make me feel like Ghana is still a colony. I didn’t even consider KLM, I hate the long layover where you spend hours hunting for a chair at Schipol only to be checked-in abrasively by their attendants. What of Ghana Airways? Well, that is collecting dust in an open field somewhere in Accra.

With options closing in on me, I nearly succumbed to the urge to fly Delta. Afterall, I could get drunk on their white wine, skip their water soaked food and sleep through their sub-humane service. But what if a steward cunningly gave me a cup of Red Bull instead of white wine… To be fair, Ghanaians are hectic travellers. If we could squeeze a lawn mower into a suitcase we would, but since we can’t, we pack Sears, Macys and Home Depot into our bags and try to pass it off as 23Kg. But honestly, after we beg for a discount on our excess bags and manage to stow our overweight hand luggages, we are as calm as the Red Sea. Take the last time I flew British Airways as an example: We were stuck on Heathrow’s tarmac for 8 dreadful hours. Despite the lack of ventilation or food, all the passengers sat patiently in the plane and waited for the Boeing 777 to be de-iced. A flight that was supposed to take 6 hours lasted 14. We were rewarded with a curt thank-you but no compensation. That was 2010 and I added BA to the list of airlines I  would not support. “Go back to Delta”, a small voiced urged, but with all the dignity I could muster, I resisted.

See, after years of complaining and listening to friends harp bitterly about Delta’s delays, mechanical problems and untrained staff, I was determined not to support their business. But which other airline could fly me to Ghana respectfully and safely? “Try Turkish Airlines” my friend Marcus suggested, “they now fly to Accra and I have heard great things about them.”

I immediately booked a seat on Turkish airlines. The fare was a fraction of Delta’s but the service was exponentially better. It recently won Skytrax’s ‘ Best airline in Europe’ award  for their courteous and reliable service. As of July 2012, they added Accra and Abidjan to their flight routes and so far, the reviews have been glowing.

The flight to Accra required either a 4hour layover at Aaturk International Airport or an overnight stay in Istanbul (hotel accommodation and $60 visa transit fee not included). As it was my first time in Turkey, I opted for an overnight transit so I could discover Istanbul. Turkish Airlines was a fantastic experience. The flight was on time, the food was delicious and they even handed out a travel kit to all the passengers (try asking for an extra blanket on Delta). However, if my experience with Turkey’s 737 was heart warming, its capital surpassed my expectations.

Istanbul is a beautifully cosmopolitan city with a plethora of reasonably priced hotels. If you have an early morning flight, I recommend staying at the Tav hotel which is just next door to the airport. But if you have time on your hands, I recommend taking the subway to the historic Sultanhamet to enjoy their boutique hotels. You will be overwhelmed by the sweet smell of roasted chestnuts and glazed baklavas while you tour rich cultural heritage sites like the Blue Mosque. My favourite part of Istanbul was shopping at the famous Grand Bazaar where I got a taste of the warm hospitality of the Turkish people. Even with minimum English, they found little ways to make me feel oh so welcome. I am so glad I did not fall victim to the convenience of Delta’s direct flight. We often forget that as consumers we DO have options so when your complains fall on steel ears, take your business  where it is valued.

I doubt Delta missed my $1500 but until they upgrade their planes and their attendants, I will transit through every conceivable city to get to Accra, but I will NOT stand in their queue. Do join me.

8 thoughts on “Why I boycotted Delta

  1. Thanks for this review! I travel to Accra thrice a year and I will most definitely try this route next time. I can relate to most of your travel experiences so far.

  2. I was speaking to a consular official at the U.S. Embassy in Accra about 2 weeks ago, and she highly recommended Turkish Airlines, saying it’s becoming the airline of choice for people traveling back and forth between the States.

    • Yeah Eileen, I really recommend it, if airlines realise that Ghanaian passengers respond to quality, perhaps they will up the ante

  3. Istanbul is in my top 5 fav cities… I got engaged there so it does have a special place,lol. That being said i never considered turkish airlines! Thanks for the tip. My last trip was through portugal because like you i am NEVER EVER EVER flying Delta again.. and so i take the opportunity to use airlines that transit through places i actually want to see. If lisbon is on your list, try TAP. The service was good and lisbon was a nice treat. ;-)

  4. I travel to Ghana twice a year and have done so for the past ten years. I have always flown Delta because I am on a time crunch and spending an extra day in Europe or the Middle East is not doable for me. I have written to Delta several times about the condition of the 767-300s they fly to Accra from JFK. I have a LOT of miles with Delta and know their aircraft very well. I am convinced that they take the most junked out interior planes in their fleet and send them back and forth between JKF and ACC. When Delta offered direct service from ATL to ACC, the planes were the new 767-400s. What a difference!!! I have spoken at length with the flight attendants on theses flights to ACC and most of them hate the route because of the following reasons: 1. the old planes. 2. Many of them discovered that day that they were flying to Ghana and it comes as shock; they were not prepared. 3. Slight cultural differences, normally with flight attendants who are African American, put them on edge. I say slight on purpose because it is my opinion it is often the American’s preconceptions that create or amplify the problem. 4. The 10 hour flight is long and the shifts the flight attendants work is not conducive for a proper work environment. If the flight was 1 hour longer, the shifts would be changed by law and I think better service would be given. 5. Often there is a “token” Ghanaian flight attendant who is under-trained, under-qualified, and pretty much lost on the flight. Many of the Ghanaians would like to utilize his or her services, but they seem completely overwhelmed.

    All this being said, Delta is responsible for the experience on the plane. I know they will be soon phasing out their 767-300s. That will hopefully help the situation. Everyone from the passengers to the flight attendants will feel more comfortable in a nicer plane.

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