Last week, I wrote about a mini-fiasco I went through when my Delta ticket went “missing” upon trying to check in at a Mexican airport. How does a ticketed reservation just *poof* into thin air? Before we get into the Delta customer service details, here’s a brief background on what happened.
Buying The Ticket
Let’s go back a few weeks. I purchased a one-way ticket with Delta for a flight that had two segments. The first segment was a codeshare flight with SkyTeam partner Aeromexico and the second segment was directly with Delta. Upon arriving to the airport to check-in for my Aeromexico flight, there was no ticket attached to my reservation. Uh oh.
Essentially, my only option was to purchase a new ticket on the spot — an exact duplicate of the ticketed reservation I already had. Since Aeromexico had no record of my original ticket and their calls to Delta proved fruitless, there was no other choice if I wanted to arrive home that afternoon.
Now you have the TL;DR. After I posted about my experience last week, I received a handful of messages and comments that the well-publicized Delta and Aeromexico partnership had its fair share of issues. Antiquated IT systems were often to blame and were in one commenter’s words, “absolutely shambolic.”
How I Got My Money Back
Here is where the fun part starts — how I went about getting my money back. First, when any travel issues arise, whether they be at the airport involving a ticket, a hotel, a tour, etc., make sure you try to get everything in writing.
I made sure to document the names of the check-in agents, and upon buying the new ticket, made sure my routing and class of service was exactly the same as my already ticketed reservation. Of course, I also kept all of my receipts at the Merida Airport where the ticket was purchased.
Second, when buying the ticket at the airport, my thoughts turned to which credit card to use to make the purchase. I made sure to use a card that had good travel protection benefits, and decided to use my American Express Platinum card. In my head (and I was thinking worst case), even if travel protection benefits didn’t kick in due to this oddball situation, I could attempt to initiate a chargeback on this new ticket. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that.
The new ticket cost over $1,000, whereas my ticket originally cost less than $300.
Reaching Out To Delta Customer Service
After arriving back home, I mapped out a game plan to reach out to Delta. First, can we talk about how Delta actually has a customer service representative that you can actually call and talk to over the phone?
This might sound ludicrous, but I expected most airlines to be in the same vein as American Airlines — where the only way to reach out to a customer relations person is either over email, Twitter, or snail mail. Usually, my preferred method of contact is Twitter anyway, but since this situation was a little complicated, a good ole’ phone conversation just made the most sense.
Pro-tip: When calling Delta reservations, make sure you ask the agent to get transferred over to customer care. Unlike the reservations agents, those customer care phone reps are empowered to make decisions like refunds, etc.
After explaining my situation to a lovely customer care agent named Winter, she opened a case and explained that this seemed highly unusual, and would have to take a few days to do an internal investigation. Alright, fair enough.
Fast Forward A Week
Today, I received a call back from Winter with a resolution to my case. In case you were wondering, yes, I got a full refund for the new ticket that I had to pay. Unprompted, Winter also placed 7,000 Delta SkyMiles in my account for the inconvenience which doesn’t sound like much, but I also wasn’t expecting it.
Most impressive though wasn’t just the fact that I got a refund, but also how Delta handled the entire situation.
Not only did Winter profusely apologize on behalf of Delta, she actually explained in pretty good detail what had happened and how the airline was taking corrective measures so it wouldn’t happen again. And I actually believed her.
What Happened To My Ticket?
First things first, to my surprise, this was a Delta mistake and not an Aeromexico one. According to Winter, my ticket was processing as normal but somewhere along the line, for reasons forever unknown, someone on the Delta fraud team had marked my transaction as fraudulent. However, the employee who made this mark on my reservation shouldn’t have done so, nor did they notate why it was done.
Winter then explained that normally, in these instances, Delta would try to reach out to the customer to verify if the transaction was indeed valid or just outright cancel the reservation. Neither of those things happened. She did say a manager was speaking to that specific employee so that it wouldn’t happen again. Wow.
That could also explain why Aeromexico asked me for my credit card to verify myself upon checking in at the Merida Airport. So my reservation ticketed, it was marked as fraudulent, and never fully passed on to Aeromexico.
At the end of the day, Delta owned up to a mistake it made on their end — and apologized for it. I will be getting my money back in the form of a check, a few thousand SkyMiles will end up in my account, and I’ll likely be able to keep the Amex Membership Rewards points for purchasing the ticket on my Platinum card.
This ended up being resolved way easier than I expected, and I’m happy with the outcome.
Ironically enough, it left an even more positive impression on the Delta customer service experience after this incident. It goes to show it’s all about follow up and follow through, even in situations that are less than ideal.
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