Guess what happens when you book a flight through Delta Airlines — not the air carrier Delta Air Lines?
A family going to Asia learned the hard way.
Susan Samples of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s WOOD-TV writes that Naomi Poel’s family was scheduled to visit Japan last month.
Just one hour before boarding, their flight was delayed — and they’d miss their connection.
“I was panicking really badly because we don’t travel a lot,” Ms. Poel said, “so we really don’t know much about how it goes and ‘are we going to miss the whole trip.’” (From what I gather, it sounds as though the family hadn’t yet arrived at their departure airport.)
Her father-in-law hopped online and found “Delta Airlines Reservations.” That’s who they contacted for help — and to whom paid a $300 service fee to switch their flights.
Ms. Samples notes, “the flights did actually get booked so it’s clear there was no outright fraud, and there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the site’s homepage stating it is not affiliated with any airline.”
The Delta Airlines rep allegedly told the family not to go to the airport. (Because, naturally, why would you possibly go to the airport to catch a flight?!)
That’s when the Poels became suspicious. They visited the airport’s Delta desk and discovered they’d been had.
Delta Air Lines to the Rescue
Delta Air Lines — the company that physically flies people in airplanes — rebooked the family’s trip for free. Because that’s what would have happened had they gone to the real Delta Air Lines in the first place.
Delta Air Lines also called Delta Airlines’ rep Daren French — and got him to refund the family’s $300 “reissuance fee.”
The Poels left the next day for the Land of the Rising Sun.
So What Does Delta Airlines Have to Say?
Ms. Samples reports Mr. French told the family, “We clearly told (Naomi Poel) that we are not Delta Airlines and we are a travel agency, but she said ‘can you please do something for me?’” (Ironically, WOOD-TV’s story doesn’t differentiate between “Delta Airlines” and “Delta Air Lines.”)
I went to the Delta Airlines website last night and checked them out.
Call me naive, but a company calling itself “Delta Airlines” — and whose website is delta-airlines-reservations.com — might be trying to trick people. Just a hunch.
I poked around their website a bit. To even search for flights, you must enter your name, phone number, and email address.
Um, no, thanks.
“We are solely [sic] act as an agent,” they disclose, “we create a connection between travelers and suppliers of travel services. We do not own or manage any kind of Travel Services. We don’t declare that we are airlines or are associated with any airlines. Entire branding is authentic for expressive purposes only and does not denote any involvement with any airlines or organization.”
Okay. So they’re upfront — despite their name — about that.
“Beyond just buying discount flights, we also help you find and guide flights with wireless and other facilities to make your trip enjoyable.” (Guiding flights with wireless? That sounds interesting.)
Essentially, Delta Airlines is trying to make a buck off the low-hanging fruit — or flyers, in this case.
So I Called Delta Airlines…
I decided to give Delta Airlines a ring last night, just to get a feel for their services. After I spent a few minutes on hold, a man with an accent not native to North America answered. I asked the rep if the company is affiliated with Delta Air Lines.
“We are an authorized help desk for Delta,” he said. “We work for Delta.”
“You work for the actual Delta Air Lines, the air carrier itself?” I clarified.
“Yes, we’re an authorized help desk for Delta.”
“So you’re paid by Delta Air Lines to work on their behalf?”
“We are an authorized help desk for Delta,” he said, getting a little impatient.
I asked where he was located.
After pausing for a minute, he said “Troy, Michigan.” I asked him why he’s in Michigan if the company’s address is listed as 1706 Folsom Street in San Francisco.
Yes, I know a company can have a home address in one state and reps in one or several other states. I was simply curious to hear his answer.
But never once did he try to sell me a trip, ask how he could help me, or book me on a flight.
I guess he doesn’t want me on Delta Airlines anytime soon.