Delta Airlines said one thing re: MQMs, then changed their minds...loyalty means honoring your word and advertisements.

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Dec 31, 2018
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#1
I recently traveled to Kenya and back to NYC via Delta's partner Kenya Airways. Realizing after my first flight over that I had a deep discount economy ticket that would only give me 25% of base miles, I decided to pay for an upgrade to a business class ticket on the return flight (my ticket shows a Z class ticket, which the website says is worth 100% base miles) so that I would be sure to reach diamond before the end of the year. (Background, I was a million miler/exec platinum on American and have been loyal for 20 years and did a loyalty swap this year to try Delta for the first time. I make transatlantic flights at least monthly so having the highest status and benefits really makes a difference with ease of travel). After returning from Nairobi, I noticed my miles never posted, so I called (twice because they didn't do it the first time) and both times they said they'd fix the error and, the second time I called, she confirmed with a Skymiles colleague that I should expect to receive a total of 9198 miles for that trip (25% of miles there, 100% of miles back). They showed no ambiguity in confirming those miles. It was consistent with what the website says (business Z class tickets get 100% base miles). I called a week later noticing that only 25% of my return flight miles were posted. The person I spoke to then spoke to the relevant people at the Skymiles desk again and confirmed there had indeed been an error and that I should check back in 24 hours at which time I should see 100% of miles for the return flight from Nairobi. Again, no ambiguity in the represented outcome. They were VERY clear that I was entitled to 100% base miles having upgraded my ticket to a Z class business ticket. Then I noticed the next day the change still hadn't been made. I called back and the fourth person I spoke to suddenly said I was NOT entitled to 100% of the miles for the return flight. That Kenya Airways had somehow only processed my upgrade as an "upgrade" rather than a "ticket change" and that despite my ticket showing a Z class on it, they said the info sent to Delta showed an R class (no change from my original ticket) despite my having paid $1000 to upgrade the ticket for the express reason of getting more miles on my return journey at their suggestion. They suddenly said there was some technicality and I am not supposed to get the miles unless I had booked the ticket differently. Mind you, this is the fourth person I spoke to. Then, when that person brought on the supervisor to review the issue, she fully agreed with me that all representations made to me online and over the phone pointed to my getting 100% of base miles and Delta SHOULD honor their word. but, unfortunately, she doesn't have the authority to do anything about it and, best case, I can either spend around $3500 to buy the extra MQMs needed for diamond status (because I was short nearly the exact amount of the differential I'm disputing, 5,800 miles or so) or they could put in a request for an exception with corporate after Jan 1st but there's no guarantee it will be granted. She noted she would make copious notes suggesting Delta SHOULD do right by their word and fix the situation. She even suggested that I call back and ask again the next day (because we're coming upon the cutoff to travel) and I did and the person now stated the same as she did but that he couldn't do anything to fix the situation himself. I am a very frequent flyer and I really feel it isn't right that Delta misrepresents information on their website and through their customer service reps and then doesn't stand behind those representations, whatever representations are made. It is way beyond reasonable to assume that I would have known, after being told otherwise, that an "upgrade" to Z class wasn't the same as buying a Z class ticket for the return. My ticket says Z class. The website says Z class gets 100% miles. I made the rest of my travel decisions for the year based on that assurance. Even if a mistake was made on their end, they should honor it because, two weeks ago, I still had time to book a last minute trip to ensure I made it over the diamond line. But, by the 30th of December, that's a lot harder. I could really use some advocacy to ensure Delta does the right thing in this case.
 

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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#2
Elliott doesn't directly advocate loyalty program issues, but I can make a few suggestions for you to self-advocate. Obviously the telephone is getting you nowhere. Lots and lots of lovely conversations with nice people, but no results. That's the airline way. First problem I see is that the partner airline did not process your upgrade properly so that you received the miles you expected. They are the ones you should be logically dealing with. But we know that's a non-starter. So you want Delta to step up here, take care of your issue and earn your loyalty.

Their help would be considered an exception, you are really asking them for a favor. Never mind that you are a SkyMiles person with status and their insane partner/codeshare schemes caused your problem. Again, that's the airline way, give the customer the minimum. Delta, however, is considered to have very good customer service among the US-based airlines. I wouldn't worry about the timing; if they fix this, the miles will be credited on the day of flight. My advise is to compose a concise, chronological list of the facts and ask Delta to help you. Be very polite, very appreciative, remember that the person reading your email did not cause your problem. Your job is to make that person want to help you. Good luck, and please let us know the outcome.
 
Dec 31, 2018
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#3
Thanks very much for this advice. I was very polite with the last two people I spoke to (including a supervisor) and did indeed remind them that they definitely are not the cause of this issue. They suggested I call back after the 1st and one of them will apply for an exception for me. I will also follow it up with the approach you suggested writing a concise chronology of what happened and ask that they consider this context. Thanks again!
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
All communications need to be in writing. That way there is no "he said, she said". It's also easier to explain. When you send your email, do not include any attachments as those may cause your email to be bounced. Tell them that you've got copies of whatever to provide if necessary.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
This is a problem when some of the call centers do not know the rules; I think the problem is that Delta reps were confusing their process with that of Kenya Airways.

From Kenya Airways

NOTE: Upgraded passengers are entitled to all business class benefits on the upgraded sector” - business class passengers do not have miles accrual as a benefit

and

The fare conditions for the original economy ticket that you purchased shall remain in effect and will be applicable even if your Offer has been accepted and you have been upgraded, including, but not limited to, cancellation policies, change fees, and rules relating to the accrual of frequent flyer miles.

It sounds like a paid upgrade and not a real change of fare reticketing, the change of fare reticketing would have likely been over $1,000 -- as ticket reissue fees are around $300 per segment -- and I just did a mock booking, discounted economy is about $900 round trip between NYC and Nairobi, and Business is over $5,500. Meaning a difference of$4,000 round trip or roughly $2,000 each way.

Airlines are trying to monetize the empty seats in business class, but there is a distinction between those that upgrade versus those who book it originally.

Delta should not give out the wrong information, but should instead have directed one to the operating airlines program and what they do.
 
Likes: jsn55
Dec 31, 2018
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#6
Thanks for this info. The irony is that full economy fares also get 100% base miles and I suspect it would have cost less even with the $300 ticket re-issue fee (and KQ charges less for ticket re-issues in general). I upgraded specifically for the miles benefit. And that was what I was advised. The very confusing part is that the ticket says Z class and Delta's own website shows Z class tickets get 100% base miles so I can see where even a diligent Delta rep would have felt confident giving that info. It seems the answer was in the fine print of KQ and it was very fine print indeed so you're right. But, yes, I'm also frustrated because I relied on their assurances and I would have flown to LA and back for a business trip in the last 2 weeks of the month had I been told I needed more miles. Just that they only corrected themselves (after the first three calls) just this weekend when time had run out. But thanks for this info. I definitely have learned a lot in this process.
 
Likes: agnostic

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#7
Thanks for this info. The irony is that full economy fares also get 100% base miles and I suspect it would have cost less even with the $300 ticket re-issue fee (and KQ charges less for ticket re-issues in general). I upgraded specifically for the miles benefit. And that was what I was advised. The very confusing part is that the ticket says Z class and Delta's own website shows Z class tickets get 100% base miles so I can see where even a diligent Delta rep would have felt confident giving that info. It seems the answer was in the fine print of KQ and it was very fine print indeed so you're right. But, yes, I'm also frustrated because I relied on their assurances and I would have flown to LA and back for a business trip in the last 2 weeks of the month had I been told I needed more miles. Just that they only corrected themselves (after the first three calls) just this weekend when time had run out. But thanks for this info. I definitely have learned a lot in this process.
All the airline FF programs are entirely proprietary and unregulated by any governmental body. The FAA, FTC etc have no leverage. The FF programs operate by the golden rule-those who have the gold make the rules, and there is no override at any level. Many of their rules are not logical and do not favor the flyer.

Email, not call, Delta and present your case in brief, bulleted points. Delta has by far the fewest cases of all the major airlines on Elliott forums and makes an effort to please customers (as opposed to American which is the perennial leader in most cases on Elliott).
https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/delta-airlines/
 
Likes: agnostic
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
Thanks for this info. The irony is that full economy fares also get 100% base miles and I suspect it would have cost less even with the $300 ticket re-issue fee (and KQ charges less for ticket re-issues in general). I upgraded specifically for the miles benefit. And that was what I was advised. The very confusing part is that the ticket says Z class and Delta's own website shows Z class tickets get 100% base miles so I can see where even a diligent Delta rep would have felt confident giving that info. It seems the answer was in the fine print of KQ and it was very fine print indeed so you're right. But, yes, I'm also frustrated because I relied on their assurances and I would have flown to LA and back for a business trip in the last 2 weeks of the month had I been told I needed more miles. Just that they only corrected themselves (after the first three calls) just this weekend when time had run out. But thanks for this info. I definitely have learned a lot in this process.
Full fare economy is often significantly more in price than restricted economy, just as discounted business class is less than full fare business -- ie discounted economy NYC to Nairobie $900, full fare economy $3,400, discounted business $5,800 again these are just random dates.

I am using an instrument upgrade tomorrow, and it will show an upgraded fare, but I will not get the bonuses because I am still on an economy fare.

I have read now that some airlines are not even allowing lounge access on upgraded fares -- or have the same business class luggage allowance -- so there are different rules for various carriers.

The term upgrade is difference from buying a higher class of fare, I think that is where there is also confusion.

Delta definitely made a mistake in what they told you which is why I think you may have a chance if you write to the executives. If the reps do not know the rules for the operating carrier, they should say so and direct one to the operating carrier.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,417
8,527
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San Francisco
#9
Full fare economy is often significantly more in price than restricted economy, just as discounted business class is less than full fare business -- ie discounted economy NYC to Nairobie $900, full fare economy $3,400, discounted business $5,800 again these are just random dates.

I am using an instrument upgrade tomorrow, and it will show an upgraded fare, but I will not get the bonuses because I am still on an economy fare.

I have read now that some airlines are not even allowing lounge access on upgraded fares -- or have the same business class luggage allowance -- so there are different rules for various carriers.

The term upgrade is difference from buying a higher class of fare, I think that is where there is also confusion.

Delta definitely made a mistake in what they told you which is why I think you may have a chance if you write to the executives. If the reps do not know the rules for the operating carrier, they should say so and direct one to the operating carrier.
Thank you for the excellent research and information, Christina. I was afraid it was something like this ... but was hoping for a different solution. AP, hop on a plane right now, as long as it departs before midnight! Seriously, I am so sorry, I know exactly how you feel.