I give airlines a lot of flak on Live and Let’s Fly for the duplicitous double standards many engage in.
Most center around consumer-unfriendly polices like waiting to days or weeks to cancel so-called “mistake fares” while strictly penalizing consumers for honest mistakes. (I’m talking about you Ethiopian, Air France, Aeroplan, SWISS, and ANA…)
But when airlines or their agents act honorably or ethically, I also believe credit should be given.
I booked that ticket over the phone using my Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. My original intent was to book Hawaiian Airlines, which was showing business class award space. But when I called Virgin Atlantic to book, the agent could not find the space. I figured he was just incompetent, but he asked if he could take a look at other options and I agreed.
Moments later, he came back and said all four Delta flights had business class award space. I thought he must be joking…Delta never makes saver award space available on its Hawaiian flights. But I told him to grab the midday 767-400 flight. He did and we ticketed the reservation.
While this was going on, by the way, I took a look at delta.com where I saw no saver award on my travel day or any travel day.
But I soon received the ticket and it was booked in “O” class, which designates a business class award.
Problem: Reservation Doesn’t Show Up on Delta.com
I knew something was wrong when I was unable to pull the reservation up on delta.com and the Virgin agent could not provide me a Delta record locator. I called Delta and the Delta agent as well as her support staff could not open the reservation, though they could see it (whatever that means). The agent also confirmed I was not on the manifest for the flight.
Virgin Atlantic Makes it Right
I called back Virgin Atlantic and explained the issue. This was literally just a couple hours later and all the Delta award space showing on Virgin Atlantic’s website had disappeared. The agent put me on hold and returned admitting an agent error and asserting the space was never available in the first place.
I was waiting for him to tell me to go pound sound, but then he said something quite unexpected and amazing.
“Don’t worry sir. As this was our error, we will honor your ticket. Please kindly stay on the line.”
10 minutes later he was back: the ticket had been issued…in full-fare first class (F). Yes, Virgin Atlantic had just bought me two full-fare tickets on Delta, the last two seats on that flight.
I thanked the agent. A few weeks later, the flight went off without a hitch.
This sort of customer service may infuriate bean counters, but it is ethical and so commendable. I thank Virgin Atlantic for honoring the ticket it issued in such a practical and timely way.
p.s. I don’t know about you, but I always picture Virgin Atlantic phone agents wearing the same red outfits the FAs wear…