Let me get a few things out of the way right off the bat. 1) I am in no way defending the actions of Ann Coulter during the event that happened over the weekend (and after the event). 2) Nor am I defending Delta’s full court media attack on Ms. Coulter that was also inappropriate in many ways. I am sure one day a book or college paper will be written about that part of the story.
What I am focusing on today is the seat issue itself as the one thing this event did highlight, that we should as Delta flyer know about, is Delta does have an on going issue with seat “mix-ups” as the company itself admits (yes, they did admit they messed up her seat).
So these are the facts as we know them. Ms. Coulter purchased a “Main Cabin” ticket a.k.a. a coach ticket. She then did what Delta Corp love-love-loves for passengers to do – that is, she purchased a more expensive “branded fare” upgrade to moved from a coach seat to another coach seat but one that is called by Delta a “Preferred Seat”. Apparently, according to Delta, the cost for Ms. Coulter’s flight to purchase this upgraded seat was ~$30 vs. the other same coach seat in another part of the cabin (in one example above the cost from ATL-DTW is ~$20).
So far no one has disputed these facts. There is more.
Next, it seems, when Ms. Coulter booked the flight she chose a window seat. But it also seems she likes an aisle seat because at the 24 hour check-in window, when many elites upgrade to Comfort+ or 1st class, Ms Coulter moved from the window to an aisle seat in the exit row.
Maybe it is just me but the way Delta tells this part of the story it is almost like an attack on Ms. Coulter about the seat change at the 24 hour mark. To me it makes it seem like it was in some way wrong of her to move, after having for some time before that selected a window seat, to the aisle seat in the same row. I personally change my seats all the time and check often on all the technology Delta gives me so when a “better” seat opens up I switch to that one. This part is just my musing but I think it is relevant to the overall narrative of the events. Back to the facts.
No one seems to be disputing that Ms. Coulter boarded the flight with her chosen and paid for aisle exit row seat. Then something strange happened. Her seat was was given to someone else and she was told to move to a window seat in the exact same exit row.
This was strange and I have never had “that” exact event happen but I have selected a bulk head seat and been “forced” to move when someone who required that type of seat checked in. Delta even warns me, either online or on the phone, that this can happen and I take that risk. Ms. Coulter’s event does not seem to be this kind of issue.
Nor does it seem to be a FAM move. FAM stands for “federal air marshal” or a cop in the air that can, and often does, bump you out of any seat anywhere if they want it. There is little or nothing you can do about that. I have had that also happen to me and you just roll with it. Too bad. Delta will sometimes when this happens toss you some miles due to the event and I really respect that as it is not Delta’s fault that you got “FAMed”. But again not what happened to Ms. Coulter.
So Delta messed up the seat issue. They admit it. We should know seat issues are an ongoing problem for Delta and I am now going beyond Ms. Coulter’s case but like the idea of calling it being #Coultered when Delta bumps you out of your chosen seat. 😉
One of the biggest problems that happens hits almost every single Saturday of the month, that is what we call “Schedule Change Saturday“. It can be maddening. Your flight may be the same time, the same aircraft, the same everything but one things changes – the flight number – and you can be “tossed” into some random seat you did not choose and Delta DOES NOT TELL YOU!
The next thing that Delta has a problem with that can result in seat “mix-ups” is when there is an aircraft swap. This can happen at the very last minute or months before the flight. Again Delta, a BULK of the time, simply moves you out of your chosen seat and does not tell you. You have to go clickin’ on your reservation to see you have been #Coultered out of your chosen seat. To cut Delta the tiniest of slivers of a break, the new Fly Delta App does, sometimes, push or update your new seat to you on the electronic boarding pass but it is not like it will “911” you that things have changed – you have to notice it yourself.
Then we have one that tends to hit elites more than others – that is, being “upgraded” against your will to a Comfort+ seat (often a middle seat) either by Delta technology or by a gate agent or someone else at Delta. Often when you gripe about being moved against your will the agent is surprised you do not want the “upgrade”. For most of us an aisle or window seat is WAY better than any middle seat on a Delta jet! Being #Coultered to a middle seat to me would make me crazy and I would flat out refuse and even take a later flight.
Lastly we have the being asked to move due to a family or some special need. Apparently this is what may have happened to Ms. Coulter and I have to believe if cooler heads had been in play this issue could have been resolved this way. I have, yes somewhat reluctantly, given up my carefully chosen seat to accommodate others. For a short flight if it helps another passenger I can live with a move to another seat on the jet (so long as it is not a middle seat that is). I think most people who fly are decent enough to gripe inside their heads a bit and let it go and do the “right thing”.
So there you are. If you fly Delta you need to know they have real seat issues. You, and Ms. Coulter, may think you have a guarantee to your carefully chosen seat but Delta does not do much to protect that specific seat for you. Know this and it is up to you to check and check often and to be pro-active if you get #Coultered out of your seat! – René