Let me start out by saying I have not verified the Flyer Talker “flyerCO” story and did reach out to Delta for confirmation but was declined comment on this “individual customer matter”. So I am under the assumption it is an accurate public statement by a very long time member of the chat board (flyerCO is a member since 2003). With that let’s dive in to this event. FlyerCO says:
“Had IRROP [irregular operations] happen and got booked LAX-JFK-AUS due to ATL flights have no F [first class] available. It was even given as an option in the IRROP rebooking tool. Booked, was confirmed, and had BP [boarding pass] issued at airport. Then at boarding Red Coat decided that in her “opinion” I needed to pay $2.5k because she didn’t feel that the routing was something that should have been offered. Pointed out I held a confirmed reservation, and a BP, and again told me her only option was that I fly out tomorrow on LAX-AUS (would have taken today, but no space, thus got booked through JFK). Agent basically said we can demand payment if we feel like the routing you’re taking isn’t paid for. Again pointed out that it was an option offered not only by reservations, but the online booking tool. Nope “I’m a red coat and it’s our duty to collect additional airfare if we feel that you haven’t paid for the fare.” I didn’t really want to go through JFK, but I also wasn’t going to fly coach LAX-MSP/ATL/DTW after coming back from SIN. (This wasn’t an attempt to get more MQM, just flying the only option with F/J [first class])”
Once I read this thread I just had to go through all 12 pages and see comment after comment from flyerCO about what happened next. In a nutshell the flyer complained to Delta, they investigated but did nothing until the step was taken to file a complaint with the DOT. Then:
“Finally got resolution. While they had agreed they were wrong, and that I was owed compensation, they dragged their feet. Finally sent an email to DOT. They agreed DL red coat was wrong. They sent DL notice asking what they plan on doing to compensate and to ensure no future violations of DOT rules.
I have no idea what they’re doing to correct future violations. I didn’t get that part from DOT. However in the end I got a 2500 USD travel voucher and 50k miles as compensation.”
Amazing. There is so much about this event that just blows my mind. And there just “has” to be more to this than what we see, that is, I have my suspicions that the only reason this Delta rep did this was due to someone up the ladder at Delta telling them to try to find situations like this and “protect” the Delta brand and product, that is, first class pricing and routes when either Delta IT has goofed up or another employee has done something they really should not have. Again, no proof on this but an educated guess. Next, that Delta, even after the DOT complaint, paid out vouchers (a number of small ones) plus SkyMiles vs paying out real money that the passenger could have demanded at the gate. But that is the problem and point of my post today.
Do Delta people have too much power?
What would you have done in a situation like this and what can you do if something happens to you by a Delta employee that you know is wrong. Also, what are the risks in our modern travel age if you do push things.
First off, if you are dealing with a gate against, you can request a red coat. Now for flyerCO a red coat was the problem so no help there. They next went to the Sky Club but even the head of the club sided with the red coat. The only other option I could have seen would be to ask for what is called a “station manager” that is a Delta person(s) over that airport location (if there is one, depending on the size of the airport).
Then there are the other issues that could happen if you really push it. For example, say you do succeed in “arguing” your point and get on the plane. What if one of the gate agents calls down to the pilot and informs him or her about how difficult a passenger you were. Any pilot absolutely has the right to remove you from the flight if they feel you could be a disruption to the flight. Not saying this would happen, but I can see the possibility. What else bad could result?
Depending on your tone and what you say is it beyond the realm of possibilities that a man or woman in “blue” may suddenly be standing nearby you. Now sure you have rights as much as anyone who is working for an airline, but at the same time I would never ever want to be escorted out of an airport. Think of what that could mean for you. What could be at risk.
Could you maybe have your TSA PreCheck or Global entry taken away if the event becomes bad enough? Or, at the time you go to renew, would this come up? Now I know we are talking very rare and extremes here but I think it could be possible if you pushed it.
I have only gotten SSSS on a boarding pass one time in my life due to a number of one-way hops on a mileage run but if anything caused that to happen on a regular basis I would be truly frustrated beyond measure as a very frequent flyer.
In the end I kinda want your feedback this weekend. Are you ever intimidated by airline personnel, that is, you do not speak up because of fear that something bad could happen and you would rather just allow yourself to be wronged rather than risk a confrontation? Let me know in the comments below! – René
PS – Don’t forget about the AMAZING 70k SkyMiles plus 10K MQMs Delta AMEX card offer ending soon!