Busy Phillips Made a Common Mistake Booking Her Delta Ticket

by Zoe

Dawson’s Creek alum Busy Phillips learned a frequent flyer rule the hard way last week. When a cancellation hit Delta Air Lines, Busy found her family trip primed for disaster.

For those catching up, Phillips threw a Twitter fit after Delta rerouted her daughter onto a different flight. It then took all day to figure out an itinerary that wouldn’t leave her nine-year-old stranded.

“Hey @Delta! Thanks for cancelling my flight and then rerouting us and separating my MINOR child onto a different flight than mine and having a 2 HR call time wait! You are terrible!” she wrote.

But Phillips could have spared herself the grief with a quick phone call to the airline — before she left her home. Her first mistake was booking her minor on a separate reservation. Booking separate reservations can complicate many facets of air travel.

If she would have been eligible for a frequent flyer upgrade, her daughter would have been left  separated in the back of the plane. The separate reservations would have left Phillips and her daughter in the lurch for priority services like expedited security and baggage check, too.

Ideally, always book everyone travelling together on the same reservation, at the same time.

But, even when that’s not possible, there’s a simple way to combine separate reservations by calling the airline ahead and asking them to link itineraries, a practice Delta Air Lines calls “complete a party”. The representative will note family members traveling together and use courtesy when rebooking. Read: no nine-year-old daughters stuck in random midwest airports at 2am.

In case of the unexpected, do research yourself. Anticipating flight delays and calling in ahead of time can be the difference between a 30-minute delay and a 12-hour delay. Know your options before going to a gate agent or airline representative for help, and get on the airline’s website to look at what other flights might be available.

If you know exactly which flights have enough available seats for your family you will have a much better chance of all being rebooked together.

If you’re still concerned, keep in contact with the airline up until departure. As long as you’re polite and appreciative, many representatives will work with you to get you what you need.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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RJB July 2, 2018 - 2:17 pm

Airlines screw up on a regular basis. But, they are not mind readers. I wish these Hollywood people would just shut up.

Kenneth Gati July 2, 2018 - 5:58 pm

Some of this doesn’t make sense. To book a minor on Delta you have to call the airline directly as it can’t be done online. Once you have them on the phone at that time you should be able to link your reservation and not require a separate phone call as you’ve recommended. Also if you link the reservation can you waive the unaccompanied minor requirements including the extra fees. I’m also curious as to how it would work if the reservations weren’t linked as Delta is responsible for the unaccompanied minor from departure gate to arrival gate including the layover airports. Can Delta allow the parent to assume responsibility during the flight and layover airport?

John July 3, 2018 - 10:56 am

Hi Kenneth,
Good questions here, and I think this warrants a followup on unaccompanied minor tickets. In terms of her specific situation, we are limited to the understanding that she made the reservation for her daughter at a different time, and did not link the two reservations together.

I think you may be overestimating Delta’s reservations computer regarding the idea that Delta must “allow” a parent to assume responsibility. I don’t think the unaccompanied minor services provided are coded into the system, rather I think the airline accepts an unaccompanied minor when they drop them off at the gate. I know that when I was flying as a young boy at age 12 (all of 16 years ago) my reservation was never treated any differently than any other. My parents could ask the airline to accompany me, but when they didn’t I was on my own. I learned this the hard way when I missed a connection at DFW once while playing around on the SkyTrain (which was SO COOL!!!– at the time) and had to be rebooked on a flight the following day.

Kenneth Gati July 3, 2018 - 11:40 am

Since I’ve had the opportunity to make reservations for a minor with Delta I can confirm that it can’t be done online for anyone under the age of 14. Unless something has changed from 4 years ago, which is the last time i had to do this for my daughter, the reservation was flagged UM and I was directed to call Delta.

Kenneth Gati July 3, 2018 - 11:44 am

As far as the check in process she was tagged as an UM and we had no option but to pay the fee and fill out the required paperwork.

askmrlee July 2, 2018 - 9:32 pm

This doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t the child’s reservation have to be linked to an adult’s reservation otherwise the 9 year old would be considered an unaccompanied minor and subject to the UM fee? On Southwest and Alaska you have to link a stand alone child ticket to a matching adult ticket with the same segments or else the ticket gets flagged as an UM.


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