Missing infant ticket leads to $1,735 airfare bill

By | May 18th, 2010

Joshua Davis and his family were looking forward to a weeklong vacation in Cancun. They were not planning to pay twice for their airline tickets, or to be on the receiving end of a frustrating form letter from Delta Air Lines, which cast a long shadow over their family getaway.

The Davis family’s story is a case study for the value of using a competent travel agent, particularly when you’re booking special tickets to an international destination. Davis bought his tickets directly by phone through the airline earlier this spring, leading to a not only a ticketing fee, but also an unfortunate series of misunderstandings.

We explained that we needed five tickets, two for my wife and I, one for our five-year-old daughter and two lap tickets for our infant twins.

When we received boarding passes in the mail, one of the infant tickets was missing, so my wife promptly called Delta and informed them of the issue. The representative on the phone told her that they would put the ticket in the system and all we would need to do was pay for the ticket when we checked in. We though everything was golden.

Everything was not golden.

When they arrived at the airport in Roanoke, Va., there were no tickets for the babies. A Delta rep phoned the international desk to try to resolve the issue.

There was no rush to get this issue resolved at either end, the check in counter or the representative on the phone. Needless to say, we missed our 6:30 a.m. flight. Then, to add insult to injury, we were told that we would have to pay for new tickets.

Since we had no other recourse to get to our destination, I booked one-way tickets from Roanoke to Cancun for my family. We also had to pay for new infant tickets and a surcharge to change the return leg of our original flight to the new itinerary. Instead of the flight costing us $1,613 as we originally thought, it cost us that plus $1,735, the cost of the new tickets.

Efforts to resolve this by phone with Delta from Mexico were unsuccessful. A supervisor sympathized and offered the family three $500 vouchers. He explained that if he tried to reverse the charges on the tickets, he would have to cancel them, which would mean the family would have to buy new tickets home. Davis declined the offer, and instead wrote to Delta after he returned to the States.

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Here’s how it responded:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding your recent travel experience. On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, I sincerely apologize for the problem you and your family encountered due to our agent error and inappropriate customer service by our airport agent.

We are very concerned about the unfortunate situation you described. As our customer, you are in the best position to point out areas that need attention. Our goal is to provide consistent and accurate information to our passengers at all times. I am truly sorry that in this instance you did not receive the service you expected and should have received.