Did Delta go the extra mile for me?

As an Amex-branded Platinum-level frequent flier for the better part of the last decade, Carolyn Stover Harvey counts herself among Delta Air Lines’ best customers. The kind of customer Delta would go the extra mile for.

You’d think.

But Harvey wonders if Delta really did go the extra mile for someone with as many miles as she has. She wants me to tell her – and you to tell her – and she promises to abide by our decision.

Oh, the pressure! OK, here it goes.

Harvey flew from Atlanta, where she is based, to Fresno, Calif., via Salt Lake City.

Her outbound flights encountered numerous problems. A mechanical delay made her miss her connection in Salt Lake City, she arrived in Fresno six hours later than planned, and her luggage arrived 24 hours later.

When she tried to check in for her return flight, she found her itinerary had “vanished.”

“Delta had no record of my trip home,” she explains. “Apparently it disappeared when my re-booking was done. I was ultimately returned to Atlanta via Salt Lake City, but not without problems.”

As if that wasn’t enough, she was seated in the least desirable seat on her flight back to Atlanta: in the last row of economy class near the galley. Of course, her in-flight entertainment system didn’t work.

Harvey wrote a letter to Delta’s chief executive, complaining about the problems she encountered on her California trip and reminding him of her elite status. She asked for a full refund of the clothing and toiletries she bought during her baggage delay, plus a double-refund of the Skymiles I paid for her ticket, or 65,000 miles.

It looked as if the person who reviewed my complaint did not understand the problems at all. I received a full refund of what I spent on my emergency supplies, but only a 5,000 Skymiles refund. I just find the entire treatment of my very valid complaint insufficient.

Harvey thinks she understands why Delta didn’t compensate her more. She paid for her flight using miles, which means it was a nonrevenue tickets. But did Delta do enough for this super-elite customer? Did it follow its own rules for compensating her — or did it brush her off?

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Bruce Burger

    Delta provided the minimum acceptable compensation — full cash for the purchases, a few miles for the mistaken cancellation, nothing for the delay or bad seat. Good customer service (which a smart airline would provide to an elite traveler) would be a refund of at least half the miles for the roundtrip. But while she should ask for that, I don’t think you can get involved every time airlines fail to provide good service. And double miles? Come on. That’s unreasonable unless the airline actually physlcally injures you.

  • http://jpportz.livejournal.com/ Jeremy

    Compared to some other stories on here, I think this is almost “enough” compensation in terms of offsetting the inconvenience of the delays and booking problem. A little more would have been nice but double miles is certainly over the top.

    A relevant point: I don’t think the airline has any incentive to “go the extra mile” for this customer for the primary reason that she’s based in Atlanta where Delta dominates the market – there is no real threat of her switching her loyalty to another airline, because no airline offers comparable service there.  It might be quite a bit different if she was in NY or LA.

  • http://backseatflying.blogspot.com/ Gary Kung

    I will neither say yes or no in this case as she goes too far this time.

    I agreed that Delta’s offer is too little compared to the issue itself (Delta did the right thing to offer full compensation on incidental expense).

    However, the way how she did it went too far:
    1. Dealing with the issue without trying her best first (She should not all the way to the CEO before trying to resolve the issue with a lower tier first).

    2. Asking for double refund, regardless if she paid by miles or not.

    3. Show off Status – Delta: “Do you know who I am?”

    Being Platinum means she traveled a lot. It also means a seasoned traveler should be able to determine what the airlines can do or not.

    Sure – Delta created the problems, no doubt about it. Delta’s offer is low, no doubt about it. But is that mean she deserve more?

    It will be a question only she can answer.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If she was any other passenger, she wouldn’t expect anything by way of compensation except for the reimbursement. Oh, wait. She IS any other passenger. She might be elite, but she used miles to purchase an economy seat. Did her travel experience suck? You betcha. Does she deserve anything more than 5K? Not really. It’d be nice if Delta gave her back 10K, but not sure 5K is worthy of mediation…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

     Actually she wants either 65k or 130k depending on how you read the article. That’s either 60k or 125k more miles that she wants.  That’s enough miles for mediation.  Although I think it an excessive demand.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Oh, no, believe me. I understand what she wants. I’m just sayin’ that she deserves nothing more than what she’s already gotten, or at most, another 5K miles. This kind of crap happens to flyers every day. My position on advocacy is: If this same situation happened to Joe Blow, what would s/he deserve? That’s what I want to learn from reading this column. If it’s a resolution never-to-be-repeated because Chris got involved or the OP is some elite member of society, it’s not really applicable to the masses.

  • emanon256

    Is she platinum by virtue of flying, or platinum by virtue of having the credit card?  I ask because I travel about 130,000 mils per year, and the situation she described happens to me at least a few times a year.  And the missing return itinerary happens about 20% of the time I get rebooked. As much as it sucks, it’s part of travel.  A weather delay or a mechanical problem can really gum up the works downstream.  But arriving 6 hours later than planned and having your bag 24 hours late, that happens.  And getting put in the last row of economy when there is a problem, that happens too.  I ask because I think someone who travels enough to be platinum would understand and be used to these type of problems.  Yes it stinks, but getting from Atlanta to Fresno, albeit it 6 hours late, is still faster than the bus, even 24 hours late is still faster than the bus.
    I am surprised Harvey would go right to the CEO.  In my experience, whenever I have had a delay on Delta more than 1 or 2 hours, I get a letter from Delta apologizing and it usually includes an offer of 10,000 or so miles.  I think Delta excels in proactive compensation. I wish I could fly them more.
    I personally am glad Delta reimbursed her for her toiletries, and I do think the 5,000 is a little low, but asking for the full fare back let alone double is asking fro way too much.  They still got her there, and back.  I wonder if her asking the CEO led to reduced compensation?

  • emanon256

    Also, I want to point out that Chris has several times referred to award tickets as Non-Revenue tickets.  While they are not “Cash” tickets, they are not Non-Revenue either.   Non-Revenue is an industry term for employee travel, they can be Non-Revenue Space Available, meaning they are flying standby for free (Or a reduced fee that gets deducted later from their pay) or the can be Non-Revenue Positive Space, meaning they get a seat no matter what, but do not pay for it, usually because they are traveling on company business i.e. to get to a flight on which they will work.  There is a lot more detail about Non-Revenue tickets, but I don’t have the time to go into it, I just want to point out that Award Tickets are not Non-Revenue.  The airlines consider the miles a liability on their books, and they are paid for in miles.  From an airline point of view, award tickets are considered paid tickets.

  • TonyA_says

    I’m getting sick and tired of reading about ELITES and how they expect to be treated a lot better than the common person.

    If she had an Amex PLATINUM card, then why didn’t its own insurance cover her  expenses due to lost luggage?

    I’m Sorry, but the fact that someone who thinks she is ELITE has to come here and ask for help makes me think that the word ELITE doesn’t mean much with airline travel.

  • Raven_Altosk


    Well, there ya go. 

    Honestly, I haven’t felt the love since the merger at CO/UA either and I’m an elite–not a ten year elite–but getting close to 1MM.

    I just think airlines in general are treating all pax worse these days. 

  • Raven_Altosk

    I consider myself a SUCKER more than an “elite.” I am sucked into subjecting myself to airline travel as part of a job. 

    There used to be perks.There are no longer any real “perks.”

  • Kathleen Proud Keyte

    Oooh, I voted no but this is a tricky one. I think the double refund of miles is stretching it a bit.

  • TonyA_says

    I used to commute regularly between NYC and SMF as well as MEM-SMF/SJC/SFO as part of my job. Some of my peers were so hungry about this ELITE STATUS thing while traveling on the company’s dime. I was more concerned about how much MONEY I was taking home and had in my bank account. My thinking is – if you cannot afford to PAY for your vacation or trip then, sorry, you are not an elite because you don’t have enough money. I also believe that if one has a lot of money, then the kind of CREDIT card he keeps in his wallet does not matter.

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah what choices did she really have between ATL-FAT; Delta, American, USAir and UA maybe? Which one is really better than Delta?

  • TonyA_says

    I think the “NON-REV” usage by Chris depicts how the ticket was paid for (i.e money, points). It would be better if he simply used the term AWARD ticket if the pax paid with points or miles.

    The other usage of NON-REVENUE is for tax computation.

  • emanon256

    Well said.  I could not agree more.

  • Crissy

    I think it would help to know how many miles she paid for the trip. If she paid 50,000 miles then 5,000 miles was weak.  But if it was 25,000 miles then it’s not so far off the mark.  I think it was a good minimum compensation, though not a customer service friendly amount of compensation.  Since they did get her from point A to point B, and back, I don’t think a full refund is necessary.  While it’s easy to place a price tag on not meeting the requirements of a contract, it’s not so easy to put a price tag on inconvenience.  It’s kinda like trying to sue someone for being annoying.

  • emanon256

    Since the merger MM status doesn’t mean as much anymore anyway.  I’m not sure what it was on CO pre-merger, but on UA pre-merger it was permanent second tier status, 2 upgrade certs a year, Star Gold, E+, and 100% bonus miles.  Post-merger it’s third tier status, no upgrade certs, E+ still, Star Gold still, spousal status, and 50% bonus miles.  The sad thing is I am so close, yet it doesn’t evens seem worth it.  If I can save more money on other airlines and have more in my pocket I will.  It’s a shame for all the people who already earned it.

  • JPainis

     She must have paid 32,500 miles, since her demands for double mileage back are for 65k.

  • wozzy72

    This absolutely erks me and makes me HATE Delta more and more every day.  A few months ago on a flight to Buffalo (with a layover in Atlanta) my flight was excessively delayed on the way there and on the way back, checked bag and all (including paying a $25 checked bag fee) they LOST my luggage.  And when I say lost, i mean LOST.  They had no idea where it was, no tracking information because the sticker they put on it while checking in was so warped and un- legible that Delta could not figure out the “numbers” of my tracking tag nor did they input my name, etc correct to connect me to my bag.  After weeks of phone calls, letters and follow ups with the airport and Delta corporate, I get a call 3 weeks later that they had found my bag!  3 WEEKS LATER!!!!!!!  And as for compensation for LOSING my bag for 3 WEEKS they gave me a $100 credit and reinburshed me for tolietries and such I had to buy.  Really Delta… $100 credit?  $100 credit doesn’t get me a flight anywhere!  You’d think they would have ponied up for a comp ticket….

    Cheap asses!

  • MikeInCtown

    I agree that they didn’t offer enough and that she is asking for too much. Though they routinely offer vouchers for problems such as this, so I think perhaps half the miles as a refund would be appropriate. 5,000 is a slap in the face of someone who apparently gives the company quite a bit in either business, or revenue through the card.

  • MikeInCtown

    You need to read better Fly… She was placed in the last economy seat after they completely screwed up her return flight.

  • MikeInCtown

    Shouldn’t matter how she got the miles. In fact, getting the miles by the card alone probably earned the airline more money than if she had flown. LOL $100,000+ in purchases and the airline gets a cut of every dollar?

  • Asiansm Dan

    Absolutely not. Delta didn’t treat her right. Being Elite and Gold member, I haven’t encounter bad treatment from the airlines yet. May be my expectations are not extravagant. However, I suspect being male or female on the road, the treatment from Airlines and Car-Rent Companies are quite different.
    Bring your business to Star Alliance or OneWorld. Call them and state that’s you are Elite member on Skyteam, they will match it (I did it once).
    It happened to me once in the 90’s, when an American Airlines saw I travel on a Y-Full Fare endorsable class on Air Canada , she proposed to endorse my ticket and upgraded me to First Class. I became Gold member of AAdvantage for 5 years afterward. The director of Montreal local office even called me for advice how they can make the service out of Montreal better.

  • MikeInCtown

    They should be treated a lot better. When you give a company your loyalty and they offer certain perks for your business, you would expect them to treat you better. After all, you have chosen to spend a LOT of money with them instead of their competition.

  • sirwired

    A double refund?  Seriously?  5,000 is a little skimpy, but she wants 65,000?  Gimme a break.  They DID get her there, albeit with more than a little inconvenience.

    I’ve seen much more compelling stories on here, and I don’t think any traveler (with stories MUCH worse than this) has asked for a 2x refund on a trip that had already been taken.

    Sometimes, when your demands are well out of the realm of reasonable, all you end up with is a token, if anything.

  • TonyA_says

    Mike, mostly all the people in my hometown (Stamford CT) who work in Manhattan literally spend a huge amount of their lifetime in the Metro North train to Grand Central (and back). Do any of us expect any LOYALTY from Metro North (or the NYC subway)? Nyet.

    Why are so many people fooled that just because you fly on an airplane, your relationship with the carrier is different? It’s just a flying bus.

  • http://twitter.com/alangore_sedona Alan Gore

    They got her there, and compensated her for the clothing expense, and she got some miles back. This is not a time to whip out her Super-Entitled Card.

  • Stefan Baral


  • TonyA_says

    You know what, I hear that there are still a lot of people whose tickets are screwed up because of the merger. And I also hear that the hold times (UA call center) is still in the hours for some people. I understand that even UA retirees’ travel benefits got screwed on the deal, too.

  • whatup12

    as a diamond member on delta, i can tell you–their staff does NOT read the emails.  I will write them clear emails about all of the issues that have gone wrong and they will come back with an offer of 7500 miles.  with more than a half million of those miles, this is pretty useless to me.  but i move on and get on delta another day…as skyteam just has better coverage for where i fly.  and given that she flies out of ATL–the same appliest to her.  so she can complain, but delta is busy fighting for more NY passengers–they know that they have ATL-based people secured.

  • MarkKelling

    OK, she got where she was going and back, she got her luggage (eventually) and nothing of value was missing from it, Delta paid for her unexpected expenses without complaint and they threw a few FF miles in as well.  Sounds OK to me.

    Sure, Delta should not have deleted her return itinerary, they should not have lost her luggage, and probably should have had a “better” economy seat to put her in.  All of this is frustrating.  But she is only one of many Platinum level flyers on Delta and she got treated just as good as any of them do today.  Why does she feel she should get the equivalent of TWO free flights worth of miles?  

    What about that seat she got on the return?  Which lower level elite flyer, or which non elite flyer, got bumped to make room for her?   She should be happy they found a seat for her.  And she did not have a business or 1st class seat originally and was then forced to sit in an economy seat.  

    There have been many postings here about people who had lost luggage that was not returned for days or weeks where the airlines have refused to pay anything at all for the items bought that were necessary to have until the luggage was returned.

    Maybe she needs to reevaluate just what she thinks elite status means, look at what the airline gave her already for this, and be thankful that she was somebody special to the airline.  

  • Chasmosaur

    That was my question also – credit card vs. miles traveled.

    Because my husband is a mere “Gold” elite (solely through miles traveled), and he manages to supply himself for a week’s worth of travel in a rolling carry-on and his laptop bag.  I don’t travel quite as often, but so can I.  The only time we can’t is the middle of winter and we have to pack several sweaters which are too bulky to fit in even our most generous carry-on.  That’s a rare occurrence.

    Granted, we women have a little more to schlep to look professional (makeup and hair styling tools, mostly), but I’ve been able to travel for years out of a single carry-on.

  • Extramail

    My question is more, why did it take 65000 miles for a round trip ticket? I don’t think asking for double the miles is ridiculous given that deltas’ award calendar is such a joke and it will probably take that many miles for her to replicate the flight she should have gotten. It has become commonplace for me to have to use 80000 miles for a first class ticket when the award calendar says the dates I have chosen are “low” days which should only require 45000 miles. Then, to add insult to injury, invariably at least one, if not two, of the segments will be in coach (I’m flying from Louisville, which takes 4 flights to get anywhere).

  • MarkKelling

    She expected a certain basic level of service from the airline and did not get it.  She is rightfully annoyed.  

    I expect the airline to at least not lose my reservation.  How it is paid for is irrelevant.  I also expect my luggage to arrive when and where I do.

    And yes I am an elite flyer on UA (formerly CO).  Do I expect to get treated “better” than the average flyer?  Maybe, since the airline lists multiple things I am to expect when flying with them due to my level.  Do I get every benefit every time I fly? No.  Do I write letters to the CEO demanding compensation because I bought an economy seat and got stuck in what I consider a crappy economy seat?  No.  Elite status does get you a lot of helpful perks (dedicated phone line, priority rebooking when your flight is cancelled or you miss a connection, free checked luggage), but it does not mean the airline is going to get down on its knees and beg your forgiveness when they do something you feel is not perfect.  Anyone who expects that needs to reevaluate their position in this world.

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Loyalists, take a look at this. Guess who you’re really flying with from ATL-FAT.

    10APR-TU-952A ATLFAT ET PT                      
    1*S#DL1105   ATLSLC- 810A1030A   9 763 0E
    2*S#DL4768      FAT-1131A1215P   9 CRJ 0E
    3*S#DL1755   ATLLAX-1115A 123P   7 757 0E
    4*S#DL7446      FAT- 245P 340P     ERD 0E
    5*S#DL1507   ATLSLC-1205P 214P   8 757 0E
    6*S#DL4571      FAT- 323P 405P   9 CRJ 0E
    7*S#DL1655  ATLLAX- 940A1151A   9 763 0E
    8*S#DL7446     FAT- 245P 340P     ERD 0E

    Is Skywest or American Eagle gonna be loyal to you?
    Stop dreaming.

  • TonyA_says

    She was reaccommodated. What else do you want nowadays? Maybe you can lobby for an EC261 USA version.

    Also, lose or cannot find a PNR? It’s pretty hard to lose a PNR even if you want to get rid of it (for privacy).

  • MarkKelling

    But if the Metro gave you free rides if you ride a certain number of times per month or had a dedicated car with nicer seats for the most frequent riders, wouldn’t you accept it?  

    Even the restaurant I eat at most often remembers me when I show up and gives the table free appetizers or a round of drinks most visits.  Should I refuse that because it makes me seem special and they don’t do this for every table?  

    I doubt anyone would turn down any extra benefits given to them by any business they deal with often.  

  • TonyA_says

    Let’s keep the discussion to TRANSPORTATION. I can buy a monthly card on MTA, that’s it. No such thing as loyalty there.

    The whole idea of buying your loyalty made some sense when there were a lot of airlines with excess capacity. How many airlines are left today. Even AA is about to be swallowed, right? And look at load factors today. You think you’ll get a FREE seat easily? Delta is perhaps one of the hardest to get an Award ticket. This is really a big joke – airline loyalty.

  • Extramail

    Considering what delta wants in terms of miles to “award” an award ticket, then I don’t think it unreasonable to ask for double miles used. Delta has made it ridiculously hard to even use the miles so there is no telling how many she will have to use to replicate the fight she took. I routinely have to use 80000 miles (instead of the stated 45000) to book a first class ticket even though the award calendar says I have chosen low mileage days. And, invariably, at least one, if it two, of my segments will be in coach class (I fly from SDF which always takes four segments to get anywhere).

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Mike, where in the article does it say she was moved from another class into Economy? It just says that out of all the economy seats, she got the worst. If she used 32K for a r/t ticket, that suggests that it was economy. Maybe YOU need to read better…

  • Michael__K

    the missing return itinerary happens about 20% of the time I get rebooked…


    Translation: The airlines get away with providing bad service to me; ergo I support them when they provide bad service to others…

    I’m also bemused that so many commenters here rant about passengers needing to take responsibility for their seat assignments when they book.  But then when those advance seat assignments are not honored (as was the case with the OPs return flight here), the consensus seems to be that passengers should know better than expect those seat assignments to actually be honored….  They should simply grin and bear it and not whine about compensation.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    The OP had me until she demanded a double refund of her miles.  That’s just greedy.  I also don’t believe she should get back all the miles she used to take this flight, either.  They did get her where she needed to go…  Half the miles refunded, maybe.  All?  No?  Double miles?  Not only no but h*ll no.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Freebies suck! Get rewards that pay cash, then buy a ticket. Airlines are always having delays and you have to be ready to live with it. The reservation cannot be LOST! PERIOD!  You can access any Delta reservation for up to 24 hours after the flight in any Delta computer. They might have cancelled the return in error, but it was there. Cheapies get burned.

  • MarkKelling

    Lost, cancelled, or deleted by the airline.  Call it what you want, the PNR wasn’t there when she tried to check in.

    Also, I think Delta was generous to the OP and she is owed nothing more.

  • Charles Owen

    I kind of gloss over when I read “least desirable seat”. It’s economy class! Unless you are willing to pay more to select a seat or choose a higher class, you take the seat they give you. In most cases someone is going to have to sit in that “least desirable seat”. If we start deciding that people should be compensated for being put in those “worst seats” on the airplane, then someone on every flight could complain. 

  • Extramail

    If the airlines are going to offer and “elite” status the blame the airline, not the passenger. The airlines thought they were “buying” loyalty and now they don’t want us to collect.

  • TonyA_says

    Believe me, it’s impossible to delete a PNR. You can cancel the itinerary inside a PNR but you can never delete a PNR.

    That said her flights may have been cancelled. So she was reaccommodated.
    She got home, right?

  • TonyA_says

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  • TonyA_says

    Hi Emanon, got a question. Is the Delta AMEX Platinum card the same as Delta Platinum Medallion?

    I am not an expert on Delta Skymiles MQMs.  http://www.delta.com/skymiles/about_skymiles/benefits_at_glance/index.jsp
    Is there a way to find out if Harvey is truly an elite at Delta?

    I remember Delta was giving a way to earn Platinum Status faster:

    Fly just three paid round-trip domestic flights or two paid
    round-trip international flights, and we’ll grant you Platinum Medallion
    status. As an exclusive offer, this is just a small percentage
    of the standard Medallion Qualification Segments you would need to
    reach Platinum Medallion status.

    I wonder what status she really has.

  • emanon256

    I only ask because it doesn’t sound like she travels very often based on her immediate demand to the CEO for a double refund after a 6 hour delay and having her seat moved. I agree it sucks, but I think she expects way too much for something that people who travel a lot experience pretty frequently. What she gets should have nothing to do with her status with the airline.

  • MikeInCtown

    I’m sorry, but getting a government run entity confused with a privately run one is where you went wrong. Since when could you ever expect any loyalty out of any government official?

  • emanon256

    I forgot about the retires, I feel horrible for them, my FA Friend told me how bad that cut was and how many people it effected.  Their life time flight benefits were basically taken away.  I still have a few itineraries out there than never synced up and I am still missing 4 segments of miles.  Fortunately the sync issues are a few weeks out still.  Last time I called it took an hour to get someone, I have been trying to take care of everything at the airport now.  I used to always get through on the phone licketly split.  I also finally got a response last night to an e-mail I sent on the 6th or 7th of last month.  Pre-merger, I always got a response within 48 hours.

  • MikeInCtown

    Because of a delay, she missed a connection. yes, it was only 6 hours, but she also had no luggage when she arrived. They did reimburse her for the toiletries, but she was without her items for a day. Then they completely lost her return flight and when they got her a seat it was the worst on the plane. itf it was just a 6 hour delay, then I see your point, but there was mistake after mistake here.

  • TonyA_says

    A lot of International Airlines are owned by their respective governments. They do have mileage plans, too.

  • MikeInCtown

    Considering they had no record of her flight home, how could they have moved her to another section from one? And the fact that the stupid seat electronics didn’t work, OMG, what a flight from he!!

  • emanon256

    I do not support them when they provide bad service to anyone.  Everyone should get good service, no matter what.  Elite or not elite, everyone deserves good service.  But when irregularities happen, and they have to re-book someone, sometimes the PNR gets out of sync and they have to fix it before she can check in.  I am merely saying this is common, and it seems absurd for someone who claims to travel a lot to go directly to the CEO demanding a double refund for this error.  To someone who hardly ever travels, this may seem like a big error, but to someone who has been platinum for 10 years as she claims, I find it hard to believe they have never experienced this problem, and I think their demands are a little ridiculous. 
    BTW, from Delta’s CoC:
    Delta will have no liability for making connections, failing to operate any flight according to schedule, changing the schedule for any flight, changing seat assignments or aircraft types, or revising the routings by which Delta carries the passenger from the ticketed origin to destination.

  • http://twitter.com/LookSolutionsCo Kim Brechin

    The challenge is the Amex Branding loyalty portion of the equation. As a Million Delta Miler and a former Platinum Amex holder, I constantly battled the loyalty issue.  Delta lost, misplaced and constantly bumped me out of my what Delta referred to “Non Revenue” business class seats “seats booked with my points”.   Amex who fronts the Platinum advantage is no help at all. I earned my status from flying Delta but every time I tried to take advantage of any AMEX “Platinum”benefits such as compensation for lost baggage and incidentals such as tooth paste etc. it became painful .  The letter should be written to AMEX and a copy to Delta.   I have seen the corporate blame game for multiple years with AMEX and Delta.  I finally cancelled by Delta Platinum card.  And avoid Delta specifically as they are consistently underperforming to the “Top Tier” fliers. 

  • TonyA_says

    It’s just sad. IMO, UA had the most responsive Elite program of all the US carriers. While it was a bit complicated to understand for the outsider, most of the members (especially commuters) loved the program. UA tweaked their system for the benefit of their elite flyers. I get a kick just reading flyertalk about the old (pre merger) Mileage Plus program. All gone now I suppose.

  • emanon256

    Actually, she may or may not be elite at all.  Just by holding the Delta Platinum AmEx doesn’t mean she has Platinum Medallion status.  It may just be a Platinum card.  I don’t have the Delta card because last I checked it charges a $150 a year fee.  The last ad I saw for the card said you got to board with silver elites and got 1 free checked bag per flight.  
    She may just have the credit card which does not make her a medallion elite.  I hope Chris can clarify, though it shouldn’t really matter.  
    I just want to add, platinum is not the highest medallion status on Delta, the highest regular status is Diamond. 
    What you are quoting is the platinum challenge, which lets you earn platinum status faster, say if you are switching airlines because you no longer like United :)  Sorry, I’m still upset with United.

  • SooZeeeQ

    They refunded her more than I would have expected.

    As for the “least desirable” seat on the plane, I flew Delta in almost the same spot and it was not bad, and I always go to the last row when I fly Southwest.

    Bumpy flight and the crew has to remain seated?  I always get my drink.

    Hate getting kicked in the back of the seat?  No problem in the last row and for short hops I do not need to recline.

  • TonyA_says

    I also noticed that  there was no mention of MillionMiler status. Probably one who can maintain a decade of Platinum status can/may already be a million miler by now.

    If the OP was not a Platinum Elite then this case would be very funny. I, too, am waiting for Chris to clarify.

  • TonyA_says

    3.5 hours in the back of a 737/757/763 is probably not that bad. It’s better than getting stuck in traffic in Hotlanta.

  • SoBeSparky

    I don’t understand this either.  “Amex-branded Platinum-level frequent flier” means she has a credit card.  Period.  It denotes no elite level because of Delta travel business.  

    She got compensation, especially for a free award flight–more miles.    Maybe she earned these miles just because of credit card usage.  Who knows?  Case closed.

  • emanon256

    Many airlines still don’t have seat back video, and up until a few years ago, most of them didn’t. Plenty of long haul flights still don’t even have in seat video.  I don’t see the big deal here.  I buy books.  Paper ones.  I would never depend on an airline to put a TV in the seat in front of me to entertain me.

  • pauletteb

    Talk about unreasonable expectations! My daughter and I missed our connection in Chicago because of a gate agent’s error (this was right after 9/11, and everything was a bit screwy). American got us the last available seats on the next flight to L.A.: last row by the lavs. Somehow we managed to survive, but then we’ve never been among the “entitled.”

  • judyserienagy

    Poor woman got caught in the phantom Customer Service department, where nobody can read and nobody can communicate.  I imagine them having 12 form letters in their computer and just sending whichever one they want to.  It’s tough to believe that a frequent flyer would be treated this way, but it seems to happen all the time.  Unless you’re at the top of the elite pack, you get a robot doing customer service.  And she lives in Atlanta, so very few airline choices for future flights.

  • bodega3

    Her PNR still existed as it doesn’t disappear until after the last travel date in history.  They also have ways of pulling it up with the confirmation code on their end.  Her information is in history within the cancelled PNR so the carrier could then see what she had been ticketed for.

  • MarkKelling

    Since Platinum level with Delta requires only 75,000 miles to get, and there are ways to shortcut the process, even if the OP had been Platinum for 10 years that owuld be 750,000 miles. Still short of Million Miler.

  • bodega3

    Well you thought wrong.  Everyone expects something for free but if you read the rules of carriage you will see your rights.

  • TonyA_says

    How about the credit card use? Do they add points and miles that are not MQM?

    Also, how about miles earned before you were Platinum? Do they count to reach the MM?

  • bodega3

    Can you imagine how many letters a day they get these days?  Yes, there are issues, but EVERYONE was something for free from the airlines. 

  • lorcha

    What is an “Amex-branded Platinum-level frequent flier”, anyway? She’s either elite on Delta or she’s not. Anyway, I think paying for her incidentals and giving her 5k miles was good enough, considering her request for double her “money” back was unreasonable. 

    I mean, Delta got her there and back, for the most part. Why should she be entitled to a double refund? 

  • lorcha

    It didn’t. 65k was a *double* refund, which the OP felt she was entitled to for her pain and suffering and being so elite.

    My first reading was that they 5k she was offered might have been a little slim for a frequent flier, but since she asked for a double refund, I can’t possibly take her seriously. 5k is fine.

  • TonyA_says

     Wait till they buy AA.

  • emanon256

    Right now you get 5,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles when you sign up, you also get bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles when you fly in full fare or premium fares.  All of the other miles earned with the card are redeemable miles, not qualifying miles.  However MM status is based on only actual miles flown, not even the fare class bonuses or the credit card bonus count towards MM status, you have to fly those miles.  Someone one could potentially earn over 2 million miles, and 1.5 million MQMs, while just barely making 1MM.

  • lorcha

    You can’t really compare different industries like that. Metro North is basically a monopoly, unless you consider “rotting in I-95 traffic and paying through the nose for Manhattan parking” to be a serious competitor. I don’t. And monopolies don’t need loyalty programs.

    Anyway, why would Metro North need a loyalty program? I did a 6 month gig in Stamford a while back, and I loved Metro North! I mean, the Stamford nightlife is great and all, but… well, yeah.. :)

  • lorcha

    Ownership is irrelevant. It’s competition that matters. Metro North has no meaningful competition; therefore, they need no loyalty program.

  • lorcha

    Status was nice back when I traveled for work, but that was pre-9/11. These days, it just means you don’t have to pay a bag fee.

  • TonyA_says

    Thanks for explaining.  No wonder I never made it. :)

  • bayareascott

    There are still many issues with the UA/CO merger, but that is completely false regarding retiree travel benefits.  They were not taken away.  Just like with many things in a merger, there were compromises.  At UA, retirees with 25+ years always traveled first, even ahead of active employees with more years of service (is that fair?).  At CO, retirees traveled behind actives.  The new plan is a compromise.  Retirees can travel four roundtrips a year at the highest priority anywhere in the world.  The rest of the time, they fly behind active employees (3rd priority of 10 categories).  Hardly “basically taken away.” Did they lose something they believe they were promised by their company?  Yes.  Are some of them acting overly dramatic and greatly stretching the truth?  Yes.

    Can’t speak to Delta (but this sounds similar), but the issues with cancelled itineraries with UA/CO is the CO GDS called Shares.  If you “no-show” for any segment in your reservation, the system assumes you are not flying and cancels your entire itinerary.  When you are rerouted because of a delay, the agent must cancel your original itinerary.  This was not the case in UA’s old GDS (Apollo) so UA agents are using to adding new flights without cancelling the old ones.  Plus, UA (as usual) does an extremely poor job disseminating information to front-line employees.  If you are traveling and get re-routed, make sure you ask the agent if they cancelled your original itinerary.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    delays are part of the airline business. They have to be otherwise fares would triple overnight.

    Sometimes I seriously wonder if they should have suicide lines at airports for people who must get on the aircraft & fly, even though it might have a mechanical problem, which might cuase it to crash.

    Want to arrive DEAD ON TIME.

    Not quite sure what this woman wants.

    Super elite ? Want a load of rubbish. Delta probably has millions of them.

    The whole idea of an ailrine being able to get me toa destination 100% of the time, on time is ludicrous.

    Airlines have to have tight schedules (unless Mr Boeing & Airbus start giving their new aircraft away free), so a delay can happen, even in perfect weather, in a perfectly maintained aircraft. Aircraft are not like a car. They can’t pull over to the side of the raod, if something stops working !!!

  • ZooeyFresno

    Greedy, entitled people.

  • ZooeyFresno

    And they know that based in ATL, she probably ain’t flying anyone else no matter how bad they treat her.  So no loss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Loudermilk-Tomberlin/1344557368 Linda Loudermilk Tomberlin

    She got far more than I got when I had a situation like that.  I was stuck on the tarmac in Dallas in an unairconditioned plane for three hours.  When I finally got to Charlotte, they lost my luggage for more than a day.  And I was given exactly $20 in recompense.

  • Joe Farrell

    There is an old saying . . .  if you have to ask the question you know the answer.

    I would BET if you called another airline’s platinum service desk, and said ‘here is how much I spend on travel in a year, I’ll give that business to you if you think you can serve my needs better than Delta.  You just have to match status.”

    I bet they’d do it – but I would also take bets that there is someone in United or American’s [thats all thats left now, right?  United, American and Delta?  I don’t count US-Scareways any more cause you’d have to be crazy to fly them]  program who has called Delta to level match . . .

    If you really really fly alot – and if you fly first class alot – charter may make a lot of sense domestically . .. and when flying to foreign destinations you would do well to ALWAYS fly that countries flag carrier there – unless you are going to Italy or China.  That said – yeah there is a little bit of laundry list entitlement mentality here – as for ‘what happened to the record,’ its still there – and you needed to find it with the OLD record locator they never ‘vanish’ since they need them for revenue accounting.

  • Bill Armstrong

    I was going to say that it wasn’t such a big deal and they paid her enough. Then I read to the part where they “didn’t understand what she wrote”.
    United Customer service has “selective illiteracy” when you write to them too, and I think that this sort of activity reflects poorly upon those two  airlines in particular and the airline industry in general.
    She was compensated properly for the flight issues.  She should receive 100,000 miles or so for them not choosing to reply properly to the letter…it is pretty frustrating.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bmgraham Barry Graham

    How does she know she is one of Delta’s best customers?  Why should she get double the miles?  Also with the original PNR there is no way that all trace of the original trip could have gone missing – I wish it could!  Airlines can always see the history of a booking.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Elite call hold times were topping 2 hours last week.

    Source: Me, sitting on the phone ready to scream.

  • TonyA_says

    I do business w/ airline consolidators (BULK fares). Last week they were still complaining that most of their UA/CO calls were on hold for almost the whole business day. Remember that’s even after getting system-wide (release) vouchers to get most of the problems fixed. Some of the old CO flights just disappeared (cancelled) and you cannot simply reroute the pax on the same booking class (no seats). I have pax that needs a 2 step upgrade and reroute to fix the ticket. Answer of UA, call back when the pax is about to depart, we are too busy (fighting fires).

    Unfortunately (or fortunately) UA fares are still one the cheapest out there. What can I do? Everyone wants to save money.

  • MHI354



  • SooZeeeQ

    Even though all caps is like yelling, at least I can read the post of MHI354 without my glasses.

  • jennj99738

    Alrighty, I’m not going to respond to how an average person is to never fly coach but I will respond to another statement by this poster:  “Record all conversations with airlines (This is legal if you are using your own phone).” 

    Wrong.  Wiretapping laws vary state to state.  You should never record a telephone conversation unless (1) you consult an attorney in your state or (2) are comfortable reading and understanding the applicable statute and the caselaw yourself or (3) get consent of the party whom you are recording.  It does not matter one bit in any state whose phone you are using to record the conversation.

  • http://travelingwinechick.com/ Elizabeth Smith

    She still flew the roundtrip itinerary, albeit with difficulty. However, I am not sure how many miles they should refund to her. Was the 65,000-mile award ticket a first class ticket or a higher mileage coach ticket?  If it was a first class mileage ticket, they should probably credit her with more than 5000 miles, since the return itinerary was in coach.

  • davidglass

    It all depends whether the state in question has 1 party or 2 party consent laws.

  • jennj99738

    True but I didn’t use that terminology for a reason.  Nevada, where I practice, appears to be by statute a one party consent state.  However, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the one party who consents to have the conversation recorded cannot be a party to the conversation itself.  So while Nevada’s statute appears to be a one-party state, in effect it is two-party.  You have to be very careful in relying on what other people like Mort tell you especially when there are criminal sanctions involved.  Mort isn’t going to the pokey, you are.  And by you, I don’t mean you, David.