So Much For Delta Airlines Being My New Airline Of Choice

As I mentioned a couple months back, when American Airlines pulled out of both ALB and SWF, I was looking for a new airline to be my “carrier of choice”. I had been a fiercely loyal AA customer for seven years but now they simply weren’t convenient for me to use.
After a lot of recommendations, I ended up choosing Delta airlines to give them a shot at being “my go-to airline” when I booked my flight to San Diego for the LISA conference next week.
Sadly, that was a mistake.
From an e-mail I sent to a bunch of Delta Airlines executives, all of whose e-mail addresses were marked as undeliverable….

I am scheduled to depart for San Diego this coming Friday. Throughout the entire process, I have had a confirmed aisle-seat assignment. I *always* have an aisle seat. I simply won’t book a reservation without a confirmed aisle seat. I’m broad in the torso and the aisle affords me a level of comfort which I simply cannot achieve in either a window or middle seat.
On the second leg of my flight, Flight 11, I had an assignment of 15C, as of 9/27/2008. This morning, as I checked my schedule to make sure it had not changed, I noticed that my seat assignment had vanished. Worse yet, there were no seats available for me to select at all.
I called Delta customer service, who put me in an exit row seat. It was not until later that I discovered the representative had assigned me a middle seat (19B). Worse still, even though seat 19C, an aisle seat, is available, I am unable to select that seat as it is a “Coach Choice” seat.
I spoke to the reservations customer service department, and the representative informed me that my only option was to ask at the ticket counter for an aisle seat and — essentially — hope that nobody had paid for an aisle seat on this flight. If I want to guarantee myself the aisle seat, such as I had for free when I made the reservation, I have to check in online tomorrow and pay for it. At my request, the representative transferred me to his supervisor, who also claimed she was unable to give me any sort of aisle seat. When I asked her to make sure I understood her clearly — that I had once had an aisle seat assignment that I didn’t have to pay for, but now if I wanted one I had to either pay for it or gamble that nobody else had done so when I arrived at the ticket counter on Friday — she confirmed that those were my options.
Frankly, this is unacceptable to me. I find it inconceivable that I am now being asked to pay for something which I already had for free before your airline took it away. The “company line” may be that the equipment changed, and that may be true, but at the end of the day, that’s not something I necessarily want or need to care about. I had an aisle seat, and you’ve got aisle seats to spare, but you’ve set those aside for people who are willing to shell out extra cash, and you won’t give me one even though you took my aisle seat away when you changed the equipment.
This is my first time I’ve ever purchased a ticket on Delta Airlines. I had previously been a loyal American Airlines customer for seven years, and the only reason I changed carriers was because American had pulled out of both of my local airports (SWF and ALB). I chose Delta after asking the blog community for advice on which airline offered great customer service, convenience, etc. [link], and Delta was recommended, publicly and privately, by people whose advice I trust. However, my first taste of the Delta customer service experience is giving me cause to wonder if my blog readers were all crazy or something.
I don’t think I’m asking for too much for you to free up a Coach Choice aisle seat and let me have it free, before they all get snatched up by travelers at online check-in. At this time, seat 19C, directly next to my assigned 19B, is still available, as are nine other Coach Choice aisle seats. Failing that, there are currently 14 free seats available in business class, any of which would be satisfactory.
I would like someone to contact me ASAP, to try and get this cleared up before my flight. I can be reached at $PHONE or at $EMAIL.
Thank you very much for your attention in this matter.
Derek J. Balling

Bummer. I wish I’d convinced my boss to let me take Amtrak cross-country to the conference….