Dozens of passengers, including artists who were in Miami for Art Basel, were left scrambling this weekend when their Delta flight was delayed for 17 hours. Passengers were given a varying list of reasons for the continued delays of a flight that was supposed to depart for New York's LaGuardia Airport at 5:40 p.m. Friday but didn't leave MIA's gates until 10:50 a.m. the following day.
Brooklyn-based photographer and conceptual artist Ventiko, who was one of 13 feminist artists to participate in Wednesday's Parade Against Patriarchy in Miami Beach, says Delta originally told passengers that a flight attendant's injury was to blame for the initial delay. After several hours, Delta located another flight attendant to work the flight, but by then two other flight attendants' shifts had ended and the flight was delayed yet again.
Passengers on the flight included Bill Fine, president of the influential art market website Artnet, and NBC News correspondent Cynthia McFadden, who tweeted about the travel nightmare Friday night.
"Not weather," the reporter wrote after the second delay. "No staff. No gate."
According to Ventiko, passengers were then told the flight would be delayed until the following day because there were no gates available for the plane at LaGuardia or JFK. Incredibly, she says passengers were denied food and lodging vouchers and were instead promised reimbursements later because of lack of hotel rooms due to the high volume of Art Basel occupancies.
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When they arrived for their rescheduled flight Saturday morning, passengers were incredulous to learn that the flight was yet again delayed, due to an insufficient number of flight attendants. Finally, at 10:50 a.m., more than 17 hours after their originally scheduled departure time, exhausted passengers began the three-hour trek back home. Ventiko collected the names and contact information of 62 passengers on the flight, and some have already received monetary compensation or credit in the form of travel miles.
New Times is awaiting official comment from Delta Air Lines, but in an email to a passenger on the flight, a customer service representative wrote, "The late arrival of the inbound aircraft combined with crew issues caused us to depart much later than we wanted."
Ventiko believes the airline's lack of clarity and insistence on providing reimbursements rather than vouchers for the overnight delay were missed opportunities to make the travel headache more manageable.
"No one should be subjected to such poor customer service and inefficiency," she says.