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Delta Offers Fifty Bucks for $750 Screw-up

The Consumerist blog posted a heart wrenching story today, about a couple whose last-minute reservation to visit a dying family member ended up a wallet-busting nightmare.

"Mac" wrote the blog to share his tale of woe, which goes something like this: Mac's girlfriend's father was rushed to the hospital, where he wasn't expected to last the night. Mac and his girlfriend frantically packed while their friend booked tickets for them to fly to the father's bedside. The friend could not book the seats online because they were not in his name, and had to call, which he did, and supposedly booked the tickets for "about $1,200 dollars".

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At the airport, however, no reservation could be found in Delta's system. Apparently the reservations were put on hold, not actually booked, and according to Mac, neither his confirmation number nor the payment info could persuade Delta to let him fly. "I called my friend," Mac wrote, "and he assured me he had given them his CC info and had forwarded me the confirmation, which I kept trying to show the ticket lady, but she wouldn't accept it."

The friend got back on the phone and managed to get a new reservation, this time for $2,000. "Seems they lost his original booking and somehow couldn't get us on the original plane," Mac wrote.

So, roughly $750 in the hole and five hours later than they wanted to, Mac and his girlfriend took off, and made it in time to see Mac's girlfriend's father.

Delta's response to this whole fiasco? A $50 electronic voucher and a letter offering sympathy, claiming appreciation for the feedback it receives from customers, and expressing confidence that if "given the opportunity of serving you in the future, ... Delta will not only meet but exceed your expectations."

It's hard to really evaluate this situation without knowing exactly what happened. In the flurry and rush of an emergency like that, it's easy to mis-hear something or make assumptions, and it's possible the reservation was never actually completed. Although, a printed confirmation in hand is pretty irrefutable.

But it also seems like Delta screwed this up, and worse, its response was inadequate and impersonal. Given the size of its operation and the scope of customer service issues it no doubt deals with, one can perhaps forgive Delta for swinging and missing on the first try. But unless this mistake is truly on the customer (and even then, how about a little more compassion?), Delta should make things right, and quickly.

Readers, what do you think?

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