We made it back to Nova Scotia, despite Delta's best attempts to prevent this. Here is a little email I wrote to Delta during our return flight from Phoenix via Detroit and Delta's 'helpful' boilerplate response:
We were booked on flight 3564 from Detroit to Halifax last night at 5:25 pm. After two hours on the tarmac, we were told to disembark and scan our boarding passes. Your system then erroneously re-booked us on an Air Canada flight that was set to leave within one (1) minute from the scanning time! We saw an agent who supposedly corrected this and put us back on the original but now delayed flight. When we showed up this morning at 5 am to catch the delayed flight 3564, we showed our original boarding passes, the agents boarded us and our luggage was placed on board. After a delay of an hour we were told to leave the plane and our luggage was removed because our boarding passes were not showing up in the system. The flight was delayed and we are now delayed another day, waiting for an evening flight out. All this because of a foolish system error and an even more foolish inability to correct the mistake using common sense!
While Delta was kind enough to provide a hotel and meal voucher plus compensation for today's foul up, surely this could have been handled more sanely if common sense was used rather than slavish adherence to an obviously flawed 'automated' system? The plane flew with three empty seats that should have been occupied by three people who were obviously legitimate customers - each of us having valid printed boarding passes for the original flight. More than a hundred people were directly inconvenienced by this delay!
I request that you investigate why, following the delay of 3564, the scanning of our boarding passes resulted in an impossible re-booking for us and another passenger. Also, why was it not possible to correct this mistake when we notified an agent of it last night? Finally, why was common sense thrown to the winds this morning when it was clear from our boarding passes that we should have been on the delayed flight 3564?
If we do not receive some sort of assurance that you are doing something to address these problems, I will hesitate to fly Delta again or to recommend your airline to anyone.
And Delta's response:
Dear Mr. Bennett,
Thank you for contacting us.
Our goal is to provide the highest possible standard of service in all areas of our operation, and we regret that we did not meet your expectations on this occasion. We monitor performance throughout our company, and your comments will be very helpful.
Thank you for giving Delta the opportunity to serve your travel needs.
Online Customer Support Desk