Mike Landman

Mike Landman

Observations On Business. Maybe a Little Preening. And A Few Lessons Learned.

Begging Richard Branson

The American airline industry is broken. And I believe that only Richard Branson and Virgin Air can fix it.

Richard, I am begging you: Please figure out a way to get Virgin flying thousands of routes around the US.

Here is an exchange I had with Delta. Mind you it took them over a month to even reply.

My email to them:


I wanted to inform you of a situation that I endured on a Delta flight last week, and would like to work to some remedy.

I flew from ATL to LAS on flight #417 last Thursday afternoon. I purchased a full-fare First Class ticket. Needless to say, I expected a pleasant flight.

As it it turned out, I sat next to a pretty obnoxious fellow. He was certainly intoxicated when I sat down, and didn’t stop drinking (or being served) throughout the flight. I treated my headphones as walls and was avoiding Seatmate fairly well. Just 4 more hours with Drunk Seatmate. He orders wine after wine, I order water and turn up the music.

After dinner I used the restroom and when I got out, Seatmate was in the galley. He flagged me down and let me know that he had “spilled red wine” in my seat. The flight attendant was standing right there, and said nothing. I stood silently waiting for something. I just sort of expected the flight attendant to offer up some towels or club soda or a new seat or a suggestion that he and I switch seats or something. Nothing. Seatmate says not to worry, he’s “saved up some blankets.” To my utter surprise he lays the blankets down in my seat, tells me “it’s cool” and sits back down. Stupified, I sat. All I could think of was the refuge of my headphones to save me from what had rapidly descended into a Spring Break drunkfest. I sat. I looked around for my iPod (which I had set on the seat). Seatmate explains that he wiped it off, and that “it’s just fine.” So I picked up my brand new $500 iPod and $100 noise canceling headphones (believe me, at this point I regret having not

purchased the $300 noise canceling headphones). They’re soaked. I wipe them off some more. They’re sticky, but they are the only defense I have from Drunken Seatmate and his loud drunk apologies.“We’re cool? Right buddy?!?” Looking around, it’s clear that my other 47 first class passengers are all very glad they didn’t pick my seat.

As I lean back into my seat, Seatmate lets out a bellow and shakes his head. “Oops. You’re gonna need one for the back too!” Indeed, I did. Seatmate had done quite a number with Red Wine #X. Got the back of the seat, too. It goes without saying that I was wearing a white shirt. A wet white shirt.

Not 10 seconds later, our flight attendant returns. “Something more to drink?” she asks Seatmate. He makes a joke about not needing anymore red wine and that she’d better make it a Tanqueray and Tonic. Not one to disappoint, our flight attendant returns with a T&T. She probably served him 4 more after that.

Here’s where my gripe with Delta comes in. I understand that you can’t control for people who are idiots. Or rude. But you can control people who are visibly intoxicated and acting like drunken morons. You can certainly stop serving alcohol to them when they prove to be drunken morons, when they are encroaching on another passenger. This man was just plain drunk. He reeked of it, he acted like it, and nobody lifted a finger. They just left me there in my red wine and blanket cocoon to endure him and his ever increasing level of intoxicity. Suffice to say, it didn’t feel First Class. It didn’t even feel coach class. It felt like row 36 in a Hooters Air charter to Daytona Beach.

I was disappointed, and certainly felt that I didn’t get what I had paid for. I am seeking a full refund for the entire ticket and I’ll consider my headphones, iPod and clothes a casualty covered by such.



And the Delta reply. From the Manager of Customer Service. I have bolded the absurd parts (I was going to bold the whole thing, but I decided to pick the REALLY absurd parts).

Dear Mr. Landman:

Thank you for your e-mail referencing your experience with Delta on your recent trip to Las Vegas.  I am sorry to learn from your report of your discomfort on Flight 417 on January 26.

Our flight attendants are instructed never to serve alcoholic beverages to anyone who appears to be intoxicated.  Your comments have been sent to the responsible department head for review to ensure that established procedures are followed on all Delta flights.  It is disappointing to have the good work of many undone by a misunderstanding or insufficient consideration for our passengers’ comfort.

Mr. Landman, we can certainly appreciate your feelings and regret your disappointment.  Since you completed your trip and the fare you paid is correct, we must respectfully decline your request for a refund.

However, in the interest of your goodwill, we will mail our Transportation Credit for $250.00.  The voucher is valid for one year from the date of issue, and can be used toward the purchase of a future Delta ticket.  Additional terms and conditions are explained on the voucher.

Again, thank you for writing.  We recognize this was not the response you expected to receive and trust you will understand our position.  We value your business and hope you will continue to choose Delta. 




Customer Care

I particularily like the fact that I completed the flight as justification that in fact it must not have been that bad. Apparently I was to do one of 2 things:

1. Jump out

2. Not return home

Then, apparently, my dissatisfaction would have been proven by my actions, not merely my words.

So please Richard. I am on my knees and begging you. Bring Virgin to America. We need you!


  1. kenny

    That is bad service in general. The fact it is to the point the airline industry has lost it’s ways of customer service all around, people have long said that the industry was best when they charged arm and leg for flying, and there was general flight etiquette (per say, as just plan manners seem not to exist as much anymore…)

    BTW, how is the iPod and Speakers, still ruined?

  2. Mike Landman

    Honestly, it’s the only reason I would ever fly first class…it reduces the likeliehood that I will sit next to someone is a tank top and sandals..

    The thing is, customer service doesn’t really cost that much, so even in a low margin business it’s still possible. It’s a culture thing. Hell, the customer service at Chipotle is top-notch, and they employ the very lowest level of American workers. Surely the airline industry can set it’s sights as high as the fast food industry?!?

    Thanks for asking. The headphones probably won’t make it, but the iPod seems fine 🙂

  3. kenny

    Wow, I have seemed to not proofread my comment earlier, and completelly did not notice I put “speakers” instead of headphones.

    Also I read through your blog…noting that you mention Chipotle quite often as a prime example of correct business practice of coustomer service.

  4. Mike Landman

    I know! And I don’t even own any stock.

    I really only know Chipotle as a customer. I just know that without fail everyone there is nice. And that goes a long way 🙂

  5. Stacey

    Wow! Delta is one of the more expensive airlines. You would think they would treat their customers better. Especially since they were having a hard time making their numbers last year.

    I am certainly not going to fly with them again until they pay you back. First class on that airline costs and arm and a leg…and they should pay for the Ipod, headphones, and shirt too. Let them recoup their loss from Mr. Wino. Their response shows they don’t care about their sober customers…Fly with someone else who does care!

  6. Paul

    Honestly, I fly Delta for the alcohol. I don’t ever pay for to get upgraded, as I am a Platinum member and get upgraded for free. I am a closet drinker and only drink on plane’s…but I agree with you about the flight attendent not serving alcohol to a exceedingly intoxicated flyer.


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