UPDATE: Delta Air Lines did reach out after I published the story below about the senior citizens trapped in Bahrain due to a schedule change with a SkyMiles reservation on SkyTeam partner Saudia. A member of the “Delta Executive Customer Relations Team” both called me and sent me an email, asking to help.
I put her in touch with the couple and she was able to confirm them on KLM flights from Bahrain to Amsterdam then Delta flights from Amsterdam home. I appreciated this resolution and my friends were very appreciative. With their tickets reissued, I was able to cancel and refund their “walk-up” Egypt Air tickets to Washington Dulles, less a modest cancellation fee.
All’s well that ends well?
Not quite. I appreciate that Live and Let’s Fly can catch the attention of Delta. Furthermore, I greatly appreciate that Delta did the right thing (since Delta issued the award ticket and Saudia claimed it did not initiate the schedule change).
But can you expect the same treatment if this happens to you? I pushed Delta on what its policy is when an unacceptable schedule change occurs on a partner award and there is no alternative award space. Was an “exception” granted because of me or can all SkyMiles member reasonably expect that they will not be stranded in case of a radical last-minute schedule change?
Here’s what I was told:
Delta agents are empowered with the situational flexibility to support our customer’s travel. That said SkyMiles Award Tickets are fully refundable prior to departure, so at any time they can cancel and redeposit their miles. If they receive a schedule change, they can do one of the following:
- Keep the new flights and continue to travel
- Search for alternate flight options via dot com, the app, or connect with Reservations
- If no flight options are preferred, they have the option to cancel and redeposit the miles
If travel has already commenced and the return flight changes, passengers can choose from the above options as well. Should they choose to speak with Reservations, a Specialist will search for all available flights, but ultimately, partner rules apply to partner-operated flights.
I asked what “partner rules apply” means and did not receive an answer.
I’m sorry to say that if this happens to you, you are likely on your own…but if this does happen to you, please do reach out to me and I will do my best to help. Delta does many things right, but we must collectively hold Delta accountable here for reasonably dealing with schedule changes on award tickets.
My original story is below.
Dear Delta Air Lines, do the right thing. An unexplained schedule change, even on a SkyMiles ticket, should not be dumped on the customer to sort out, especially when it involves two senior citizens trying to return from the Middle East.
SkyMiles Schedule Change On A Partner Flight? Delta Says You’re Stranded.
I helped book a dear couple that has been so kind to me over the years on a trip to visit their daughter, who is stationed in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a small country in the Persian Gulf. One is a Delta SkyMiles Platinum member and they have faithfully (and foolishly I must add) racked up millions of miles on their Delta co-branded American Express credit card over the years.
When they approached me to help book their trip, there were a number of reasonable options bookable via Aeroplan or Flying Blue (other AMEX partners) but because they were using a Delta AMEX card, all their points were in Delta.
Nevertheless, I found them something. It wasn’t ideal, but they purchased revenue business class tickets to get to Bahrain (BAH) via Amsterdam (AMS) on Delta and KLM. We then used miles for their return from Bahrain to Washington Dulles (IAD) via Jeddah (JED) on Saudia. Delta has eviscerated any cost-advantage to booking on partners and their one-way ticket was nearly 300,000 miles each (less than two years ago, it would have been under 85,000 miles).
The day before their trip, I checked their itineraries, as I always do before departure. Shockingly, I found that their return had been moved from February 17th to February 26th. That’s right, their flights were just unexplainably moved nine days later.
I’ve been to Bahrain and it is not the kind of place you want to stay nine extra days in. Furthermore, they did not even have permission to stay on the Navy base for another week and a half.
I called Delta to sort it out, and thus began a week-long effort in futility, in which I ultimately lost more than 15 hours of my own time. Delta’s position, from the very start and with varying degrees of politeness, has been that it has no responsibility for award tickets it issues on partners if there is a schedule change. If there is no award space, there is no recourse beyond a refund.
I did not record the phone calls, but you should read some of the chat transcripts (I tried both chat and phone). Some agents were downright hostile. Others encouraged me to call Saudia to sort it out (a ridiculous suggestion on a Delta-issued ticket). One told me that it was my own fault for using miles.
Well, she was right about that…but that does not reflect poorly on Delta customers, but on the company she works for.
Delta sells codeshare tickets from Bahrain to Washington on KLM. I proposed Delta simply book those flights for my friends.
“We can’t do that. That costs money. It’s not our problem Saudia changed your flights.”
That, folks, is a direct quote.
See, Delta will sell you a ticket that you can pay for with miles, issue that ticket, charge your credit card for the taxes and surcharges on that ticket, but runs away from supporting you when something goes wrong. Yes, Delta welcomes your decades of credit spending, Platinum status, and MillionMiler status (which these folks have), but it’s not even a game of one hand washing the other…there is no support when you need it. Just derision that you used your miles in the first place.
Of course, my friends could have purchased a round-trip ticket at the very start. At this late hour, trying to purchase a last-minute business class ticket is even more expensive than it was a month ago. Delta gave them the middle finger.
Delta may have fine print that gives it carte blanche to screw its members (in reality, the terms and conditions of the SkyMiles program do not appear to specifically address this scenario), but consumers better know that they will be left to fend for themselves, potentially at great personal expense, if a partner carrier decides to change flights on you at the last minute.
Oddly, it is still not clear why this schedule change occurred in the first place. The originally-booked flights are still operating on February 17th. I did call Saudia and the agents had no idea why the change was made and denied initiating it on their end.
Again, Delta: do the right thing. This couple just bought business class tickets back on another carrier. Thankfully, they could afford it, but what about those who cannot? This should not have been necessary in the first place. A carrier who sells a ticket from A to B should be responsible for getting those passengers from A to B…there is no “but miles” excuse.
I’ve advised these folks to seek redress and also to cut up their Delta credit cards. But you can learn from their mishap. if you book a ticket on Delta using your miles and there is a massive schedule change, Delta is not going to help you if there is not award space. Period.
I wonder how the Delta Fanboy, Tim D””” is going to justify that Delta did nothing wrong.
Yes, I’m waiting for his response here. Probably some refrain of, “You should have known better. Delta did no wrong.”
So are they coming home on the 17th on another airline out of pocket?
Yes, that is correct.
Nice article but did you really have to include this totally needless and nasty comment about staying 9 additional days in Bahrain?! I’ve also been to Bahrain and it’s a beautiful lovely country with hospitable people and quite a lot to do.
I agree and that comment jarred a bit with me as well. I spent about 8 months in Bahrain and sure, there is not as much to do as in say Dubai or Abu Dhabi but it was a nice place to live and the Bahraini people were very welcoming and friendly. I guess Matthew must have had a bad experience of some kind?
Here I am and you know the answer. Shame on you for blaming Delta for this. Delta did not change the schedule, Saudia did. Delta is not obligated to help in this situation. This is true with every airline. Delta’s reaction is reasonable.
Uh, no. Let’s call Ed and see if he agrees “It’s not our problem” is in the Delta employee handbook, values or cultural lexicon. I hope you aren’t advising Delta on how to run their customer service teams. Not impressed.
But it’s a Delta ticket that the couple paid Delta for (a long time ago through Amex.) Once they sold it, they should get you back as soon as possible in the same class of service.
I had a similar situation on a United purchased award ticket with no United flights and Star Alliance got me back, and I can’t imagine United leaving me stranded.
Wow Tim !! Do not worry, I am sure that most of the readers do understand that you do not understand.
Is this guy serious? This is a situation of who effing cares which airline did what to whom! It’s Delta’s customer. Regardless of any terms, fine print, etc., It’s a service business with a serious hospitality component. ALWAYS take care of your customer and take it up with SAUDIA yourself, Delta. Period.
Tim Dunn isn’t showing up for this LOL or if he does he will blame Saudia.
(I know, I know…..)
I KNEW IT!
Matthew, do you ever contact the Office of the CEO on any of these issues? firstname.lastname@example.org or any of the other contacts listed on the Elliot Report or GetHuman? Seems like “not our problem” needs to be addressed.
In this case, I went way up the food chain and it led nowhere. Very nice people promised me updates, which never came. Follow-ups were not answered. I gave Delta plenty of time to make this right before writing this.
Thank you for your reply. I would keep escalating personally. When working in wealth management banking I often had to go to individuals reporting directly to the C-Level to get issues resolved. Delta constantly acts like they are above this kind of horrible service, but stories like this continue to appear. I hope they make it right.
AJ, That’s a good suggestion. I’ve emailed a ETrade vice President before and got $1500 compensation years back when no one up the chain would listen.
I also left a phone message for the CEO of a home builder when the regional manager did nothing to resolve some builder issues. The following Monday a team showed up and told me “Tell me what I need to do.”
The very top of the ladder can’t deny knowledge when they’re in the loop. They won’t risk the various liabilities for such small things. One email from them to the lower echelon gets quick and huge results.
Glad to hear you’ve had success, Fathiss. Unfortunately many consumers don’t understand the chain of command. My motto has always been—if needed—‘educate then escalate’. It’s true both externally and internally in large enterprise. You wouldn’t believe the amount of internal loopholes I’ve had to jump through to get things resolved in the past. So for external—normal clients—it’s even harder.
Another option I used once was small claims court. An Al Italia am flight from Tel Aviv to Nice via Rome was delayed by 11 hours. We did not use miles but they refused to give us an alternative flight forcing us to wait for a late flight getting us to Rome too late to get another flight and stay overnight at a terrible hotel far from the city and the airport. We arrived 24 hours late but bags did not. We asked for compensation and were offered a worthless $75. voucher. We took them to small claims court . The judge gave us as much as she could and said the compensation laws had just changed and in the future flights to and from Israel would get compensation according to EU conditions. 10 years later a similar situation with Delta brought much better compensation with no need to go to court. The US needs to enact such laws.
I’m sure you realize that this is EXACTLY the same with every other airline in the world when you use miles to book partner tickets right? You could’ve saved 15 hours right there and shouldn’t have bothered
I’ve had this issue using Alaska miles, FlyingBlue miles, Aeroplan miles and so on. If there’s a schedule change (and no partner award availability exists), the best case scenario is either a refund or putting on the airlines own metal (not codeshare, metal) if they fly to that destination (which they don’t in this case).
Having been in this scenario several times across airlines before, what I would suggest to your clients is that this is February (not high season), so something will definitely open up for award availability about 3-4 days out, if not from Bahrain then from UAE/Qatar/Oman/Kuwait etc, and if not to their US specific city then to nearby hubs.
So keep reservation as is for now, meanwhile keep checking the three major alliances for something that opens up. If it doesn’t, fly Bahrain to Dubai/Maldives etc roundtrip and enjoy a 9 day vacation there before coming back to take your flight.
Not true. I deal with this all the time at Award Expert and American and United do not play these games (at least not nearly to the extent that Delta does).
But my friends are booked on refundable tickets.
I can’t speak to most of your points but disagree with “shouldn’t have bothered”. When you run a premium service travel agency, or whatever Matthew would term his business, going above and beyond to try to resolve an issue matters—especially for close friends or clients. It’s called integrity and going the extra mile. That’s how repeat business is won and nurtured. This is learned by servers in the restaurant business very quickly, for example. Gratuity 101
Absolutely not true. I have has this occur many times over the years and in all cases either the issuing airline or the partner worked to find reasonable options for me. At the worst it involved connections versus a non-stop or leaving later the same day. But never in my life have I seen that “your only option is on Saudi 9 days later). That is absolutely wrong and, at the very least, DL could have offered to get them out of one of the other ME airports on AF or KL.
Absolutely not true. Just had a partner flight schedule change on the last leg of an international outbound booked using united miles. The change was that the flight will depart 90 minutes earlier than previously scheduled, but it also meant that I would have a very very tight and probably impossible connection at BOM. Rather than telling me to suck it up, United redid my entire outbound routing and put me on Singapore airlines which is not even available to book via the United website. Let me seez Singapore Airlines vs Ethiopian Airlines? Yeah, I took that change in a flash and it costed me nothing additional because it was due to a schedule change. The UA customer service rep did mention that this flight is not available as an award ticket normally. I have a love hate relationship with United, but I do give them kudos for stepping up to the plate, unlike Delta.
Is it United that usually does a pretty good job about opening up their own inventory?
It’s those when the ticketing airline doesn’t operate anything that’s tough. I booked a MSP-CDG ticket using AF miles on AF metal. It doesn’t operate any more this summer with Delta picking up an extra flight. So AF cannot find anything to rebook me with. On the day before or after they can route me through AMS or DTW. But on the day I want to travel – nothing. Delta is selling the flights for sure but AF doesn’t have the power to ask Delta to make anything available, even though they are supposed to be close.
Air France does. Whether they are willing is another matter.
This happened on Virgin Atlantic and VS bought a revenue ticket. I love Virign for this.
Honestly just went through something similar with them. Mother was booked on DL using miles I was booked on AA via cash out of YYZ. Delta flight was canceled and told her to spend night and wouldn’t move her to AA because it was miles even though there was room and AA flight left after delta flight to same destination.
Glad I’ve convinced her to abandoned Delta for straight up Amex points
I’ve even had this issue with a domestic flight on Delta metal. My original flight booked with delta miles was cancelled the day of the flight and even though there were multiple other Delta flights available to get me to my destination that day, the lady at the ticket counter said sorry, there’s no award availability on those flights, you’ ll have to contact sky miles. I was also given the “that’s because you used miles” line…super lame!
That is not what I would have expected. I can see how it gets messy when partners are involved, as in Steve’s example above, that Delta would refuse to interline over to AA (not saying they are right in doing so, just acknowledging the complexity). Also in other examples when it’s a different airline issuing the ticket vs. operating the flight. But in your case, you booked delta metal with delta miles – that is a different story all by itself.
I had the exact same issue a few years with AA & Royal Jordanian where RJ canceled the return flight and AA refused to help. AA returned the miles and I had a few months of anxiety before I was able to rebook on different dates.
I had a Delta award flight (ZRH-JFK-DCA) a couple months ago and the first leg was cancelled a few hours before departure (pilot was ill). Delta auto-rebooked me on the same flights two days later. It took some persistence, but after calling 3 times I was able to get rebooked onto Swiss and United (ZRH-EWR-IAD) on the original day, which was the last possible routing back to the US that night. Impressive since these are Star Alliance carriers. Delta even managed to keep me in J/F class, which was surprising. So experiences will vary.
Perhaps the key difference was that you were on Delta metal?
Delta initially offered me a KLM routing (ZRH-AMS-IAD) one day later, even though there was no award availability (I checked). Did I have this option because the original flight was Delta metal? Perhaps, but Delta was still the ticketing agent and had the responsibility to rebook me. I think the key difference was a good vs. bad agents. In your case I would have kept calling until I got a favorable resolution.
I don’t get paid for this extra time and after 10 calls, I’ve had enough.
EU261 will also have had an impact here. The flight would have been in scope and creates a requirement to enable travel regardless of method of payment.
It does seem to come down to which CSRs will recognize and value your business, status, and situation. Very few have a heart. Most don’t. Lots of NPC’s just doing the job to collect a paycheck. Sounds like you got someone who really cared. We need more Customer Advocates like that in the customer service space.
Agreed. The Swiss check-in counter agent who checked me in told me he was a contract employee who happened to be working the Delta flight when it was cancelled earlier that day. He was surprised I had been rebooked into J on Swiss, because he said the counter employees only had authority to rebook J passengers on Delta into Y on Swiss. So it definitely comes down to which agent you get. In my case the phone agent was working with another agent at the Global Support desk, and that was the agent who made this happen for me. But you need to be your own advocate and if you don’t like the answer, HUCA. It took me 3 calls to get a positive resolution. Swiss J is really nice btw!
I’ve been working with the Global Support desk. Agents claim they have “no authority” to book revenue space, even on a Delta codeshare. Baloney.
Sounds like baloney for sure. You need to find the highest level team within the GSD. Probably has tier 1, 2, and 3 or similar. When I was in wealth management banking we were the highest normal non-complaint customer service team within the entire org of ~300k. Our team motto was: “If we can’t do it, no one can.” You need to find that energy lol
In 2020 I had two incidents where my KLM award flights were cancelled, and one incident where my wife’s Air France award flight was cancelled (service to AMS and CDG from IAD was no longer daily, perhaps 3x weekly instead, and we were booked on the “cancel” days). In all three cases Delta’s Global Support desk had to reach out to the AF/KLM desk, where they authorized rebooking us onto new flights on days where KLM or AF was operating. Global Support needed to take that extra step if there was no award availability on the new flights. I would imagine there is something similar for other Delta partners like Saudia.
To be clear, we handled many complaints daily on the regular. But there was a dedicated complaint only team that handled all customer segments—not just private bank—for the Office of the chairman/CEO.
Swiss J sounds amazing—Award Expert is booking for me as we speak—in my dreams tonight 😉
Swiss F is even better! 😉
Make it so
Although I live 25 minutes from ATL, I am SOOO glad I have my couple of million miles in programs other than Delta.
I cannot imagine ATL being my home airport. The stuff of nightmares. My condolences
I think I had a similar situation with United last year. ET removed my transoceanic segment from their schedule and United basically told me my options were to fly in economy or take a refund. I wasn’t able to find any saver availability at all, so I don’t think it was laziness on behalf of the airline, I think it’s just a risk you take booking award tickets on a partner. Do you think UA should have opened up some sort of availability on their metal or booked me a revenue ticket? Those are the only real solutions I can think of. The agent even told me that if UA had initiated the schedule change they could have moved me to UA metal, but since ET did it, I had no recourse.
I’ve been told things like that, but it has never taken me more than 2-3 calls to get someone to rebook me. Yes, I’m revenue if necessary.
Good to know. I’ll be more persistent next time. Fortunately TK opened up saver space and my 93K UA award became a 47K TK award.
Love it. Good for you.
Ah there we go. Was waiting for you to find a way to shill for United. An airline that has lied to me and left me stranded more times than I care to recall. Yet you continue to laud them because, let’s be honest, it benefits you. I don’t actually believe most of what you say transpired on the phone calls because you have no proof and even less credibility when it comes to being unbiased about an airline that isn’t United. Also you state that you have a relationship with these people so couldn’t that be clouding your perception just a bit? Lastly who cares if they are “senior citizens”? A traveler in a bad situation is a traveler in a bad situation. That is just a dog whistle term to try and establish a moral high ground, try to be better than that.
How can it be a schedule change when the the operator still has a flight on the same day?
It’s a schedule change to the itinerary.
I cannot understand why anyone would collect SkyPesos on purpose. Delta has been downright hostile to frequent fliers, leading on every single negative change we’ve seen over the past decade. While AA and UA both have their flaws, they both treat their members significantly better while offering far better value and support for their FF members. Delta is unlikely to make this right, even under public pressure, because they’ve made it clear that they view their members as entitled inconveniences unworthy of any accommodation.
SkyPesos! hysterical. Haven’t heard that before. I’m hoping Matthew will do an article on their appeal in the future, so we can get more clarity.
The nickname Sky Pesos has been around for years!
It is well earned…..
I don’t imagine you are the Doug that kissed Doctor Jill on the lips on national TV last night, right? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
I hope we will see more recent press about the issues you’ve raised in your comment. I haven’t seen those articles yet myself but I also don’t follow Delta as closely as some of other others, simply due to the elitist mindsets and attitudes that do surface at times. Delta has crowned themselves the best, but United is trying to come for them, so let’s see what happens.
Definitely sucks, but the fact that they are Senior Citizens has nothing to do with the story. Would you have added Black, Christian, Gay or any other protected class to the title if the passengers involved fit those descriptions?
At this point I doubt anything is going to change so they should pay the price and book the flight using cash.
First, they already did. Second, I think it is particular egregious that this happened to older people, as if they are supposed to camp out in the airport for a week.
Agreed. I wonder if any of the aviation proposals mentioned last night (rhetoric?) coming from the administration/Pete B will have any protections for seniors. Time for elders to be protected in this country.
Matthew you wrote the return tickets are paid with miles not cash. Did I miss something? Thanks!
They were…but then the date was changed nine days into the future. So now they have paid cash for business class tickets coming back.
Had a similar issue with Delta flying out of SEZ back in 2018. I booked an Air France ticket using Skymiles and Air France cancelled the SEZ-CDG leg. At the time, I had Diamond status and Delta refused to book me on any other airline – they only offered me 10,000 Skypesos to go away.
Recently, I used Delta miles to book HUX-YYZ on WestJet. The WestJet flight was cancelled during a routine schedule change and Delta only offered to refund. I suggested that because of this schedule change, they rebook me out of MEX where they had Delta operated flights, in which they obliged.
Maybe it would be possible for Delta to rebook your clients out of TLV where they have a Delta operated flight. Obviously, your clients would be on the hook for the flight from BAH to TLV, but they might be able to fight that charge with customer service after they get back home and at least have a voucher thrown their way for the excess cost. BAH isn’t within 500 miles of TLV so Delta might also fight that. However, I’ve had them switch countries before, with status and even without status.
What to do with extra time in the middle east? If they have money to be able to purchase biz seats outright then spend some time exploring. Bahrain is a causeway drive away from Saudi, grab an eVisa (I got one two days ago for an upcoming trip, took about 12 min). How about a gulf air flight to the UAE or Oman. You could point them to amazing things to see in Jordan (also on our docket next week, thx for the trip reviews). So much to do, I already wish our 15 day trip were longer…
I like your thinking, but maybe when you’re in your 80s, you’ll want to go home too. It’s a non-starter here.
I’ve had a similar situation with Qantas when my parents in law missed their flight from Shanghai to ORD due to a late connecting flight from HKG. It was a Qantas biz award flying China eastern. They were rebooked 5 days later but there were a ton of revenue seats available on AA that next day.
Initially they were offered the opportunity to fly economy to lax and then to pay their own way to chi?!?
I called Qantas a few times and was persistent and finally the agent (after discussing with her supervisor) managed to swap them to aa biz direct the next day.
Obviously a lot of these options are possible if an agent is able to have the authority to “turn the key” and allow such swaps to occur.
Mind you a lot of us are pretty knowledgeable and persistent when dealing with such situations. Makes me sad for people who know nothing about their options. Then again from a selfish perspective it prob allows more revenue to be put aside to fix situations for people like us.
After a schedule change on an AA award from ord to Vancouver to syd became ord to Dallas to Vancouver with a 7 hour stopover i rung AA to see if they could change anything for my wife and two small kids. The (older) agent swapped them all into ORD to lax to SYD on American biz metal!!! The week before Christmas with not a bit of award availability for months. That one always astounded me.
What if this was a flight from Europe to USA on a EU airline? Would EU261 protect them? And if do, why is Biden crying about resort fees when US airlines screw their passengers daily with no recourse ?
Agree – there should be consumer protection here. I’m going to write about it.
Delta Employees working from home: “Please hold so I may put on my red coat before assisting you”.
To be fair, there are great people working for Delta and great Red Coats. My issue is more with the elitism. Let’s take it down a notch.
As a frequent DL user, DL really uses SkyTeam in name only. For years, DL has made it clear certain alliance members are part of the “A” team and the rest are part of the “B” team. IF you are going to be on a DL codeshare, stick with DL’s Core Global partners (“A” Team). The DL SkyMiles website even shows you who the core global partners are: AeroMexico, Air France, China Eastern, KLM, Korean Airlines, LATAM and Virgin Atlantic. These are really the only instances where I have found DL helpful when there are IRROPs or other issues.
The “second tier” partners (i.e. Saudia) are truly second tier in DL’s eyes – right or wrong. They are listed only because they are in SkyTeam. If something goes wrong, too bad.
This is not limited to DL. I find all the alliances have their “A” and “B” teams. When these alliances started, it was a race as to which alliance could get the most members. Now that the alliances are maturing, I think their seeing that having a lot of airlines in the alliance may not necessarily be a good thing.
It would not surprise me if one or more of the alliances trim the excess fat, i.e. airlines that really don’t contribute to the overall alliance (i.e. CSA Czech airlines).
SkyTeam is basically “DL JVs and the other guys”
Which means their Middle East and SE Asia presence is absolute garbo.
I’m STE+ but with that reason I will gone, and will go, basically free agent for such destinations using EK and/or SQ.
This is why I don’t bother with points outside of base earn on Southwest.
No point of partner awards, or JVs, or alliances if you have to run marathons and jump through flaming hoops due to something you have no control over.
I find Delta phone agents even at the Diamond level to be the worst on average (there is an occasional star) but the lack of any sort of uniform training means that you will get a different answer literally every time. None of them have ticketing capabilities and thus if there’s anything remotely complex you will have to wait an hour to get a supervisor or ticketing department.
Delta agents are also very quick to label you a verbal abuser even if you’re just being firm and polite. Once that label is on the PNR you can forget about getting a resolution.
Just wondering – why not escalate at Saudia – after all that’s where the schedule change came from? Since they are still operating the flight on that day (and hopefully still space on the flight) this seems to me the easiest option to fix the problem….
Because they claim they can’t touch a Delta-issued ticket. That’s a lie too (no less than because they did it first), but it’s a non-starter. Every agent is trained to say, “Delta issued your ticket. You must deal with Delta.” I don’t have the time or patience to push back dozens of times hoping to find someone to break widely-established rules. Delta should be on the phone with Saudia every day until there is a solution. Delta issued the ticket, not me.
Award flights do have disadvantages and advantages too. Sure you can get screwed sometimes like this, but you can also cancel and change for a fraction of the cost of non flexible revenue tickets.
Have you taken to social media such as Twitter and Facebook? The social media teams , when tagged , jump on public complaints fairly quickly to prevent them from gaining public traction and negative publicity. Worth a try . Are there any options to get them just as far as a European gateway ? Perhaps get them to LHR , CDG , or AMS and then , since they have millions of miles on DL , book a Delta pay with miles from Europe to US .
Obviously, I don’t know the couple’s ability to pay but there is a good connection on the 17th via Cairo to IAD on Egyptair that looks like it costs $4500 for 2 biz class seats (google flights used) . Might be worth refunding the 600,000 miles if they can afford $4500 for both biz class tickets and earn some Star Alliance mileage in the process .
This is what they are now booked on. But with millions of SkyMiles, would have been far better to use those…
I no longer have patience for call centres and all that jazz. If an airline or any other supplier fails to deliver any goods or services that I paid for, it’s a case of buying from a competitor, assessing the precise extent of the losses, letter before action and a County Court claim (fortunately, the process here in England is pretty straightforward for low-value claims).
I gave up chasing miles on any airline years ago, along with co-branded credit cards. It just isn’t worth it given the airline industries penchant to cheat the consumer every chance they can get. We book first/business only for our trips and don’t agonize on whether or not we’ll get upgraded. I’m not taking a chance on flying 14 hours in an economy seat.
Thanks for another reminder why having anything to do with Sky Pesos is a huge mistake.
What butter BS. The simple fact is that Delta sold a ticket on a route and in a certain class of service. It doesn’t matter if the currency is dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling or Miles. The ticket has been paid for and it’s in the airline selling that ticket to take care of their customer no matter what.
In Sep 2020 my spouse and I were booked on Delta partner Virgin Atlantic in business using miles (75,000 each! ) from SEA to AMS via LHR. A month before departure Virgin Atlantic suspended all service from SEA. I called Delta and tried to get rebooked on their nonstop SEA-AMS, which had award space available at a much higher price in miles. First agent couldn’t or wouldn’t help, but upon escalation to a supervisor we were able to get booked on the Delta nonstop in business at the same number of miles, even though Delta was at the time asking for 225,000 miles not 75,000. We were both platinum and 2 million milers. The supervisor I dealt with couldn’t have been more helpful and professional. Maybe it was the pandemic?
This is why I stick to the airline where good leads the way!
Please have the family alert the base Commander. There are paths to get attention through these channels. I would certainly ask.
Yet another example of the millions out there of why the Government needs to enact new regulations and consumer protections related to airlines. The SNL skit a week ago regarding WN is not so far fetched…it’s becoming almost unbelievable what they are getting away with and consumers are left holding in the end.
As for Tim Dunn…no, not every airline would do this. I have had it happen on a number of occasions and I was always given options for the same day…the worst case being with multiple connections or non ideal times that day. NOT nine days later, lol.
@Matthew..I still don’t understand how a “schedule change” can be 9 days!!?? I get schedule changes that involve flights being totally taken off the schedule last minute (due to govt restrictions, political issues etc) but 9 days is so random. Mostly I have experienced either the extreme of “the flight is no longer going to operate anymore” or “the schedule has changed by an hour or two and we need to update your reservation to that”
Yes, the reply stating that Delta is not at fault and otherwise reasonable is so laughable that it makes me think it’s not really him saying that..otherwise, complete delusion.
I’ve been a Delta flyer for ages… I remember the first year they introduced an elite version of their frequent flyer program, and how excited I was to be a Royal Medallion. Back then, you earned miles for flying, and awards were an incentive to their best customers. I had some pretty great award trips back when Delta used to care about my business!
All that is different now: especially for the US based airlines, frequent flyer programs are separate business units. Their primary job is no longer to incentivize flyers on their parent airline, but to make money by selling miles to credit card issuers. As long as people keep signing up for American Express SkyMiles cards, and Amex keeps buying miles to give them, then the relationship that matters–between SkyMiles and Amex–is a success. Actual flyers are background noise.
It looks to me like SkyMiles aims to set service and benefits at the lowest level possible without trashing the Amex business. That means it’s time for Delta’s flyers to get over the idea of “loyalty” to or relationship with Delta. Too bad, because it used to be fun, but fair enough. It’s Delta’s business, and they can run it as they like.
I still think of Delta fondly, but only in hindsight. Now I’ll fly Delta when it makes sense, and I’ll credit any miles to the program with the best offering in terms of award prices and transfer partners. No surprise that it will be a non-US program, where the credit card biz hasn’t yet stolen the whole show. Hello, Flying Blue.
I think Delta should have found a way to get them on KLM.
This is absolutely ridiculous. I recently had an issue with an ANA biz class ticket booked with Arroplan miles. ANA canceled/delayed the launch of their SJC to Haneda route for which we had booked tickets on. I was sort of expecting that … so I had backup ticket booked with Alaska miles on JAL but that was in economy. So I called Aeroplan and see what they could do, the first agent said, sorry, no Biz class inventory available, they could offer me only a ticket with Air Canada with multiple stops. So I tried again the next day, and lo and behold, they called up ANA to,open up award space and rebooted me on the flight to SFO in biz class. Now that is customer service! I know that with lifemiles I would have had no chance but Aeroplan really did well.
I had a similar issue with a Lufthansa flight booked years ago using United Miles. Lufthansa cancelled a flight and then refused to help me because it was a United ticket and thus said United had to sort out the rebooking. Thankfully United did do that and out me on a Turkish Airlines flight again.
Whether Delta controls Saudia’s schedule changes or not is a totally moot point. These passengers are traveling on a Delta ticket and thus Delta is responsible for accomodating them and paying compensation in accordance with the relevant laws (EU 261 in this case).
Not an EU flight. It was Bahrain to US via Saudi Arabia. Exactly why the EU model should be implemented worldwide.
It’s frustrating to be sure, but I’ve had the same thing happen to me on United and American when using their miles to book on a partner. With huge changes, if no availability on the operating carrier, there’s nothing they can do. Codeshare doesn’t matter. It’s only- has the operating carrier opened up availability. Period. This isn’t a new thing or unique to delta. That said, it is frustrating and annoying. And yes in general there’s no value in SkyMiles. And the attitude you describe is pitiful.
Sorry – I hadnt read the responses above and now see that I guess others have had better responses on UA and AA than I have. My somewhat similar situation concerns booking Qatar Airways using AA points. I got a great deal 70K or whatever – one way for a ticket IAD-DOH next month March 2023. When I booked, and until VERY recently, the IAD-DOH flight was on a 777-200LR with Q Suites. Well, unfortunately, there’s been a schedule change. The IAD-DOH is still a 777-200LR, but it’s on a NON-Q Suites airplane (they have 9 777 200LR aircraft, 2 0f which do not have Q Suites, one of which is flying my flight to DOH in March). Qatar Airways has a policy whereby if your flight changes from a Q to a non-Q suite aircraft then you can change it within 21 days. however, when I asked them about it, they said that since the ticket was booked using AA miles I had to have AA change it. Well, I called AA, and they say that since there’s no availability in Qatar business their hands are tied – no availablity any day near when I need to travel. Frustrating, but alas. I was really looking forward to Q Suites but my dates are pretty unflexible and no availability. So I’ll still get the good service hopefully, but in the less comfortable seat. So, warning – Qatar Airways can change from Q to non Q seats. Dont assume that just because you book Q you’ll get Q if you’re on the 777.
This happens quite a bit on QR. The bottom line is they are still getting you where you want to go. It’s frustrating for sure but Q Suites is never 100% and aircraft swaps are common with them. And the change on paid is only if there is a seat at that same fare. Otherwise you pay the difference as just happened to me on a VIE to MNL routing…which I chose to cancel without penalty as it was paid J and then rebooked on Etihad.
Very common in my experience, surprised you haven’t experienced it before. Your best hope is to push the operating carrier to fix it and then ask Delta to revalidate / reissue the ticket
oneworld is generally better as they’ve got a liaison desk that the ticketing carrier can request space to be opened up on the operating carrier if they’ve a suitable itinerary. Airlines like BA are also happy to reroute onto their metal even without Avios seats
This hits home with me right now.
I had an award ticket on JL booked through Asia Miles from MEL-NRT-SFO coming up in March.
Several weeks ago I received email that a flight change had been made. The flight leaving MEL was originally scheduled for 12:30AM and was changed to 7:20AM. I thought no big problem.
A couple of days ago , I went to Asia Miles site and found that the 7:20 flight on the original date had been cancelled and we had been rebooked on the same flight the next day. The kicker is that we were still booked on the NRT-SFO leg the previous day. I called and was told no availability on the NRT-SFO leg on the new date. I could cancel for refund. I put in request to try and find another award flight and have been waitlisted on one on Cathay Pacific. Any one have any idea if this will come through? Not finding any reasonable flight awards at this time elsewhere.
Outrageous that they will not immediately confirm you on Cathay Pacific.
@BenA. Lately there has been a significant amount of award space in J and F released on JAL. Usually 7-14 days out. The past two weeks there have been seats every single day to almost all U.S. gateways. Japanese are just not traveling yet like imagined. As such I think your chances are good with JAL as things look right now. You could also see if LAX or SEA opens up (should SFO fail) and just position from one of those two. Starting two weeks out is when you might see things start to come alive with options.
Thanks for the info. Gives me some hope!
Hope at the very least a DOT complaint is being filed, especially stating the flights were still operating and DL refused to rebook.
Obviously I don’t know everything, but having a real travel agent friend, I really was under the belief, until check-in the TA/issuing carrier has control of the ticket and it can’t be changed but anyone else (schedule change is automatic and pushed through to all people on a flight and doesn’t need control of the ticket) but manual changes can only be made by the TA/issuing carrier until check-in, then Saudi has control.
Love the typical airline “it was our code share partner’s fault so you have to talk to them.” I bought tickets from KLM from the US which the first two legs were on Delta. Delta cancelled my first flight CLT-JFK so I could catch the JFK-AMS leg. They supposedly rebooked me on CLT-ATL and ATL-AMS that would get me to AMS at the same time so I could make my connection to Cape Town. Turns out they managed to cancel my entire itinierary in the process. Had only standby space on the ATL-AMS and then had to fight with KLM for every checkin further along. Each time they blamed Delta and told me I had to deal with them. I insisted that I had bought tickets from KLM and I was flying on KLM and Delta has no responsibility to me. Each time I got on board (losing upgrades and special meals in the process) but in Cape Town it took a separate trip to the airport.
KLM hasn’t gotten much better. On a current simple flight from AMS-NUE they managed to screw that up before I was even ticketed. I then had the dubious gambit of paying someone claiming to be KLM Social Media for the ticket. After a day of no progress I was told I needed to pay them an addition $10 for them to proceed? Yeah, they were going to trash my flight over they’re undercharging me $10 on a full fare pair of business class tickets (over $1000).
Delta is just another polished trade.
They use better smelling polish, is all.
Has Delta responded on this?
Horrible. Makes me want to email this article to the CEO’s office myself.
You are welcome to. It got me nowhere.
I had a mysterious schedule change happen to me and my family occur last Sunday (Feb 4) for a flight on April 22 from ATL to AMS (to Catania). I paid for Business Select. Seats have been confirmed for weeks. The system moved us to a different flight that day with a hideously long layover and seats not sitting together. I noticed the change in the app the day Delta made the change. I immediately called to have us put back on the original flight (which was not canceled or changed). All Business Class seats were taken (almost immediately due to the system shuffle) and they put us in Comfort. However, no refund available until after the April flight. They couldn’t tell me how much the refund would be, but they could tell me how much it was to upgrade to first class…. I believe the system automatically made the change, but if the “system is so smart” (or “so dumb” …) there should be better protections for human passengers, what we paid for/contracted for/consumer rights. I love Delta, but I am so disappointed.
They should have flown on carriers from other countries for the entire flight and not used the miles. I have not flown on American, Delta or United in years and it has been great. My few domestic flights are on JetBlue because they fly non-stop to where I am going. I did have a ticket on United that Covid-19 killed but I got my money back when United could not sell seats at a reasonable price and when I was going and went instead to Southeast Asia on Singapore airlines.
Delta is not all that great in customer service overall, how they get awarded so high in rank, I’d rather confused myself, public always said how great delta is, to me average, that’s all.
In this award ticket issued with DL ETKT, delta must look after the pax and reroute then to get them to the destination, that’s all.
When the baseline is low being #1 is easy. Delta does have cleaner planes and more reliable service but because they charge more I also expect more. So when they screw up it’s more upsetting. At least with AA/UAL/etc I pay less and expect less.
I had a similar experience with United and their partner Air Canada. I booked with United miles 11 months in advance on an AirCanada flight. 3 weeks before the flight I was removed from the flight and moved to an alternate flight which was twice as long and left 7 hours earlier. The original flight was not canceled and continued to sell tickets but no award space. Our traveling companions paid cash for their tickets and they were not removed from the flight. I might also note that when they changed our flight they also removed the free bag which I did not notice until check in. Neither airline can explain why this situation occurred. United customer service told me to complain after the completion of the trip and ask for compensation for our additional expenses. Still waiting nearly 6 months later for a resolution.
I once faced the same situation when RJ canceled a flight. This was on award ticket issued by AA. AA told me to pound sand. Luckily, RJ’s flight cancelation was a month prior to the flight and I was able to find space on adjacent days by checking multiple times a day. But it did make for a stressful trip.
Another example was when Swiss canceled flights due to weather. They rebooked me on Air France.
Good job kiddo. Ty for taking on the Big D!