Is Delta “wrong” in not helping this family with a medical evacuation? I say nope – no way!

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A Delta Jet in LAX

As a Delta Diamond I am treated very well by Delta. When there are issues they, most times, do what they can to fix things within their power. But even as a Diamond there are limits. I have been charged change fees now and then but it is the exception not the rule. With SkyMiles issues it can be a real pain and especially so with partner airlines because Delta can not “force” space to open up. Now when Delta on shows “phantom” inventory, that is, space that does not really exist, the fix can be Delta putting me on a Delta jet to that same location and matching the price (really the right thing to do since otherwise it is false advertising). With all of this in mind let’s look at what happened to one family flying Delta and their partners this past weekend.

Delta cited difficulties in getting its partner, Shanghai Air, to accommodate the family, despite having 10 available seats. The family was initially told that the trip to Shanghai would cost more than $7,000 per ticket, but Delta later lowered the price to $3,125 per ticket.” – from

Oh boy. Now before we get too deep into Tyler Davis’ twitter rants and posting of DMs with Delta, let me say that I do empathize with the family and hope the injured child fully recovers. Situations like what happened to them is one of the main reasons I carry yearly travel insurance that covers every trip I take – yes even ones I have not yet booked!

With that out of the way there is a lot I actually commend Delta for in trying to do all they could. Shanghai Air, who is called a Delta partner in the story is not yet a part of Skyteam (the alliance Delta is in). Delta was working to get a discounted one way business class ticket for the family so the child could keep his leg elevated, this is impressive. It may not have been cheap but Delta is not a charity and last minute one-way business class fares tend to cost a lot.

Next up, Delta did not make the family wait, they chose not to spend the amount required to get out sooner in the class of service they needed (again, hello travel insurance).

As it turned out, when the family did fly the booked Delta flights they had in coach, Delta had open seats and the child was, “able to lay down in an empty row with pillows propping his leg up from Phuket to Shanghai.” Per Mr. Davis on Twitter again.

I am all for calling Delta out when they do something wrong. But in this case I think they not only did all they could, but went beyond what they were required to do. Then, when things were under Delta control, they did “Strive for Five” in giving the child a row to himself. Well done, Delta and partners!

What do you say? Who is at fault with this one? Should Delta have stepped up and just changed the passengers’ coach tickets on Delta to business class on Shanghai Air? – René

Should Delta have changed this passagner to business class for free?

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  1. Agreed. Blaming your bad fortune on others isn’t helpful. Sorry this happened but things happen. Get home, deal with the money later.

  2. Delta does not fly from Phuket to Shanghi. How did they secure an entire row then if they are not a Skyteam partner.

  3. @John – See the link. Shanghai Air is owned by China Eastern (they were part of Star Alliance in the past) but not yet part of Skyteam. Thus they are an affiliate airline not yet a partner.

  4. If money was the only thing preventing them from flying in Business versus Coach, why didn’t Mr Davis have compassion for his nephew and put the tickets on his credit card? If the family can afford to vacation overseas then they can afford to purchase insurance via a travel policy or self insure. Seems they opted for self-insure but when it came time to pay up, Mr Davis chose to bully Delta. Delta went above and beyond for this family.

  5. I hope Delta’s social media team is ready to deal with the fallout if the plane encounters turbulence. But that, too, will no doubt be their fault.

  6. You cannot expect to use Delta to secure a deal, special treatment, free seats, miles awards etc on a non-Delta flight, let alone SkyTeam and especially a non-SkyTeam member in this case. Travel insurance with evacuation and air transport coverage is available on a trip or annual basis. This person should fear losing their status with DL and SkyTeam for making it such an issue and creating negative press. Just my two cents. DL takes care of people as much as they can, especially the diamonds.

  7. Umm Thailand have great doctors and cheap too. You just need to go to the good ones.
    If a child’s leg is at risk for lifetime. I wouldn’t be putting him to USA.
    I hope the kid fully recovers. If not, parents are to blame. You didn’t fly because you refuse to pay not Delta’s fault at all.

  8. @Wants to know – Not that I know of no. Thus why I buy a yearly policy to cover me for this and so many other possible issues.

  9. I really am sorry about the boy, but…. it looks like the family just wanted Free business upgrade on all the flights! It would be so much easier and less stressful just to ask the gate agent for an extra empty seat next to the boy in economy. I’m sure this would have been accommodated at the gate (the flight had 10 open seats). So easy to blame everyone around:(

  10. I agree this is not a Delta issue… Our society is increasingly becoming very entitled and self-absorbed. There is no difference to some of us put extra to put our elderly parents in J to be more comfortable. That said, this does surface a bit of issue with codeshare flights, which impacts all airlines.

  11. Rene, whether you have insurance or not is not the issue. You fly all the time. I doubt this family does. I doubt if they are as aware as you are. The issue is Delta is not required or responsible. But sometimes it is nice to go above and beyond what you are required to do because of unusual circumstances. If I was Delta, I would provide all the needed assistance and not talk about it. Delta can use all the positive comments that they can get. Word of mouth is important. It says “I care”.

  12. @Laurence – I think the 96% of readers think Delta should not have given away biz class tickets for free and I agree. There are limits.

  13. Rene, would you care sharing the company you purchase travel insurance from? I plan on doing more travel in the next 18 months and would like a good company for coverage.

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