Delta’s CEO is calling for backup heading into a busy Fourth of July travel weekend.
In an email to SkyMiles members on Thursday, Ed Bastian acknowledged that many fliers had faced significant disruptions and delays with his company as it faces record demand.
“If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize,” he said. This level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable.”
In anticipation of a busy holiday weekend, Delta previously said customers will be able to reschedule flights that take place July 1-4 with “with no fare difference or change fees.”
At the company’s major hubs in Atlanta and New York, a team known as the “Peach Corps” has been activated to pitch in, Bastian said. They’ll help passengers check in, drop bags, find their gate, and use kiosks. They’ll even serve food and drinks to Sky Club guests.
As travel roared back, Delta has hired roughly 15,000 workers since the start of 2021 — and hiring hundreds more each week, Bastian said. The surge is bringing the headcount closer to where it was in the fall of 2020 when it shed about 20% of its staff.
But even with that hiring spree, nearly one in five flight arrivals in June was off by 15 minutes or more, Delta said.
Atlanta was the scene of major cancellations earlier this month that saw dozens of Delta passengers stranded at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for more than 24 hours.
The last time the Peach Corps was called in was in March 2020, when members were brought in to help clean and sanitize equipment and surfaces in the early days of the pandemic.
Increased customer support could go a long way in mending a growing rift between air carriers and travelers. In just one holiday weekend beginning June 16, US carriers collectively canceled at least 35,000 flights.
One passenger even drove 45 minutes to rebook his American Airlines flight after being stuck on hold for over four hours, the Wall Street Journal reported. American said the experience was an “anomaly.”