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Delta wants me to pay $140 to do the right thing

I should be in bed right now, I’m exhausted.  But I’m so flabbergasted by the phone conversation I had with Delta that I have to post about it.

A few weeks ago I booked a round trip flight from NYC to Kansas City and back.  My plans recently changed, and I’m now traveling from Kansas City to Oregon before heading home to Brooklyn.  The flights from Missouri to Oregon and Oregon to NYC were booked on another airline.  All that was left was for me to cancel my original return fight on Delta.  With me so far?  I’m still using the first half of my Delta round trip flight, but not the second half.

I called Delta tonight to cancel the flight home.  I want to say from the outset that the customer service rep (I’ll call him “S”) I spoke to was fantastic, I have zero complaints with how he handled the situation.  He’s got rules to follow, and one of them is probably “Don’t tell the customer how to save money through a loophole.”

I told S that I needed to cancel the second half of my flight, and he said that the only way to do that was to cancel the entire round trip reservation and rebook the first leg of the trip as a one-way ticket.  He then asked for my credit card # because I would owe $140.

Did I mention I’m exhausted?  I gave him my credit card number, but then a few brain cells woke up and I asked him why I just couldn’t use the credit from what I’d already paid for the round trip ticket ($360.40 with all fees and taxes) to pay for the one way ticket.  I figured that with change fees I’d be about even.  He said that the $140 was in addition to the $360 I had already paid.

That’s right: I was originally going to fly round trip for $360, but it would now cost me $500 to fly one way.  The one-way price for the same flight was now $320 + tax, plus the $150 change fee that Delta imposes on any changes whatsoever.  And that’s not even counting the $50 change fee that I believe I would also owe to Travelocity (where I booked the original flights), but we never got that far, because I asked the obvious question: What happens if I simply don’t show up for the return flight?  S put me on hold for a few minutes, and came back with the answer I was hoping for: nothing.  The rest of the reservation would simply be canceled and I would lose the return flight.  But I would owe nothing else.

So, yeah, I told him not to cancel and rebook.

I tend to be a rule follower, and if I’m not going to take a flight it seems wrong to me to have that seat reserved and not show up for it.  But Delta is forcing me to plan on skipping my flight in order to save $140 (or possibly $190).  Does this seem completely backwards to anyone else?

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and the NYC Moms Blog.

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10 Responses to “Delta wants me to pay $140 to do the right thing”

  1. Nancy on May 27th, 2010 9:12 am
    1

    I travel a lot for work and run into this all the time. It is no wonder that airlines are having so many financial issues when they have policies like these. Don’t worry though. Someone will take your seat. That’s why they always overbook.

  2. ZMama on May 27th, 2010 11:45 am
    2

    If it makes you feel better, after you take the first leg, I think you can call and cancel the return with no penalty. But definitely don’t do it until you fly out! We run up against this all the time at work. I always figured it was the least of the insanities and run-arounds the airlines put you through.

  3. Amy on May 27th, 2010 11:53 am
    3

    @Nancy – Yeah, the seat will be filled and Delta will be paid for it twice. Nice.

  4. Amy on May 27th, 2010 11:55 am
    4

    @ZMama – OK, this is going to sound stupid, but I just want to make sure that if I do that, then the next time I try to book a flight on Delta they won’t be like “Well, you canceled a flight, which technically is a change, so you owe us a change fee for that flight before we book another one.” Which sounds dumb and unlikely to me, but the whole scenario is dumb and unlikely!

  5. ZMama on May 27th, 2010 12:57 pm
    5

    Well, this has been recommended by my travel agent and we haven’t been blacklisted or charged by any airlines. I don’t think cancelling a flight is the same as a change, so no change fee. When you call to cancel, you could ask to confirm that.
    We actually do this purposefully sometimes to get cheaper tickets for multi-city trips. So, in the end, we’re all playing some kind of game with the ticket prices. It’s a mess, but I have better things to worry about…

  6. Amy on May 27th, 2010 12:59 pm
    6

    @ZMama – Yay, that makes me feel better. I wish the rest of the airlines would operate like jetBlue, everything one way.

  7. Lori McCauley on June 1st, 2010 1:14 pm
    7

    It sounds like this will be an expensive $140 for Delta….
    Lori McCauley´s last blog ..College essentials

  8. Emily on June 3rd, 2010 1:21 pm
    8

    Well, this has been recommended by my travel agent and we haven’t been blacklisted or charged by any airlines. I don’t think cancelling a flight is the same as a change, so no change fee. When you call to cancel, you could ask to confirm that.
    We actually do this purposefully sometimes to get cheaper tickets for multi-city trips. So, in the end, we’re all playing some kind of game with the ticket prices. It’s a mess, but I have better things to worry about…ReplyQuote

  9. Greg on February 5th, 2011 4:33 am
    9

    I can’t remember the airline but what my situation was is that I canceled a flight and had $140 credit for future use they told me . When I went to book another flight later in the year I told the guy on the phone that I wanted to use my credit and he said it would cost me $150 to use the $140 credit . I obviously didn’t do it , but why give me the so called ” credit ” when I can’t use it ? anyone have any ideas for the next time I get in this situation ?

  10. Suzanne on February 26th, 2011 7:10 pm
    10

    What a ridiculous situation. How do you cancel a roundtrip ticket to buy a one way for an earlier date, without losing money? (It seems like you should get a credit as a one way is cheaper than a return… Is there a way to pull this off with Delta?)