After an outstanding tour of Yellowstone National Park, Gordon Heisler is all set to get his grandchildren back home in time for their leading roles in a play. But their return flight is canceled and rescheduled for a day later. If he wants to get them home in time, it’s going to cost him.
Question: I need your help in obtaining a refund from Delta Air Lines for four one-way tickets that I had to purchase when my original flight was canceled. We were scheduled to return home from Bozeman, Mont., to LaGuardia Airport on Saturday, July 2. We received a text message that morning that our flight was canceled, and that we were rebooked on a flight for the following day.
I checked with our hotel right away to see if it had any rooms available. It did not — the hotels in the area were booked, since it was the weekend of July 4. I contacted Delta by phone and the recorded message said the wait time for customer service would be about two hours. I searched for available flights online and found one on Delta that would be departing the same day as my original flight on July 2. It would land in Philadelphia International Airport, instead of LaGuardia. I again tried calling Delta, but received the same message about the excessive wait time.
This flight was scheduled to depart shortly, so I booked the tickets. I paid $2,550 for four one-way tickets and an additional amount for premium seats, since those were the ones available. My original airfare was $2,000 for four round-trip tickets.
Since we were flying into Philadelphia instead of LaGuardia, we had added costs for transportation to our home in New Jersey and then back to LaGuardia to pick up our car.
When I returned, I was finally able to get through to Delta, and it offered to refund me only 50 percent of the original round trip ticket price equating to $1,000. I told Delta that was unacceptable, because I paid $2,550 more due to a flight that it had canceled.
I do not think this is a fair settlement. Had I been able to speak to a representative of Delta, I would have negotiated the airfare before booking the tickets. But I was unable to get through. I am willing to accept the refund in the form of air miles, cash, or a voucher. I will even waive the additional amount I had to spend for premium seats and transportation costs to get back home. ― Gordon Heisler, Washington Crossing, N.J.
Answer: I agree with you ― and I think you are being generous in offering to waive the added cost of premium seats and transportation to get you back home from an alternate airport.
Since Delta canceled the flight and rescheduled it for the following day, that would normally force passengers to incur added expenses such as another night at a hotel, food, and transportation costs. Many airlines, including Delta, will reimburse passengers for these expenses if the reason for cancellation falls within its policy guidelines. In your situation, there were no hotel rooms, so you would have been stuck sleeping in an airport. Not a pleasant thought.
Delta’s Legal Notices states:
If the change is due to circumstances within our control, then we will transport you to your destination on our next available flight (or substitute alternative transportation at our discretion) and, depending upon the circumstances, you may be entitled to a partial refund and/or we may provide you with meals, lodging and/or ground transportation to accommodate you during the delay.
Delta provides an out by adding that if the cancellation is due to circumstances that are not under its control, then no compensation will be offered.
You are justified in asking Delta for reimbursement of the full $2,550. You attempted to contact Delta, but the excessive hold time forced you to book your new flight online or miss the opportunity to get home on July 2. It was a wise decision on your part to book the new flight on Delta, rather than on another airline. That will work in your favor when negotiating later with the airline.
You demonstrated what a terrific grandfather you are by paying $2,550 more in order to get your grandchildren home for a play the following day. That is truly commendable. It is unfortunate that Delta only offered to reimburse you 50 percent of your original ticket price, when the cancellation was out of your control.
Our advocates suggested you post your case in our help forums, so our representatives could assist you in resolving the matter quickly. Per their recommendation, you escalated your complaint to Delta’s executives by using our contact list, including names, numbers, and email addresses provided in our company contacts section.
You later shared with us your feeling that “Your group’s suggested course of escalation actions worked wonders as long as I was diligent with the follow-ups.”
Through your perseverance and the guidance of our advocates, you received favorable results. I’m pleased that this matter was resolved to your satisfaction. And thank you for your glowing recommendation.
Other consumers will benefit from reading about your case. Together, we were able to reach a successful resolution with Delta — you received a refund of $1,685 and $800 in gift cards.