Flight canceled months in advance; no notice, no refund, no response

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Oct 21, 2016
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On May 11, 2016, my husband and I purchased round trip tickets to fly from DCA to MDE with one stop in ATL on Delta flights 151 & 983 on Thursday, September 29, 2016. These flights were charged to my American Express card on May 12, 2016. Each cost $473.76. Confirmation: REMOVED BY MODERATOR

On September 29, 2016, we checked Delta's website and found out our flights did not exist. We called Delta at approximately 8am EST and were told that our flight was canceled months ago. Your representative said it was changed three times before being canceled. She added that we should have been emailed and that those emails often go to spam. She booked us on new flights for later that same day: DCA-ATL-BOG-MDE. With these new flights we arrived multiple hours later at our destination than we had planned and, as an aside, without our luggage.

Once our flights were re-booked, I requested to speak to a supervisor and was transferred to Grace Kemp. I asked Ms. Kemp to forward me the emails that may have gone to our spam folders. She said that she did not see any emails and was marking this as an error in her records. She did not offer to compensate us in any way. Once I asked, she offered $50 each, which turned out to be a credit toward another Delta flight.

She gave me another number to call (1-800-455-2720, press no, select option 4). However, this representative could not help because my trip had not been completed.

The final call was to a representative who offered us $200 each, again a credit. At that point, we were worn down and had to leave for the airport so we agreed to this. I looked up a number of Delta flights en route to DCA: $200 does not even get you from DC to NY, this obviously fails to adequately compensate us and forces us to fly with your unreliable airline again.

Contract law explains the three necessary elements of a valid contract: 1) offer (Delta offered the ticket), acceptance (we agreed to those dates, flights, times) and consideration (my husband and I paid for these tickets via our American Express card). Yet, Delta canceled the flights, cannot provide proof of notice, knew we were not re-booked and kept our money. I am not clear how is this practice is legal or morally defensible.

I am seeking an explanation for this practice and a full refund. Please respond by close of business Friday, October 14, 2016. (NOTE: This message was originally sent directly to Delta via its complaint line on Oct 10 - no response.)
 
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R

Realitoes

Guest
#3
I'm also wondering how you booked these. If you used a OTA or brick and mortar travel agent, they would be responsible for notifying you. Was your email address and phone number correct in their system, as these notices are usually sent by the computer automatically. I've recently discovered that some folks block emails from being received unless the sending address is from someone in their contact list.

Normally they automatically accommodate you on new flights when changes are made to flight schedules I would guess that because either the notifications were bouncing back or they were not getting a reply to the change notifications they didn't accommodate you further until you contacted them.

Unfortunately, contract law is not on your side as your contract with Delta (Contract of Carriage) states:

RULE 3: SCHEDULES AND OPERATIONS

Delta will use its best efforts to carry the passenger and baggage with reasonable dispatch. Times shown in timetables or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of this contract. Delta may without notice substitute alternate carriers or aircraft, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity. Schedules are subject to change without notice. Delta is not responsible or liable for making connections, or for failing to operate any flight according to schedule, or for changing the schedule or any flight.​

This is standard language for most airlines. We have seen this type of complaint many times with all the major airlines. The $200 voucher offer is fairly normal compensation for the inconvenience. You can write the Delta executives using the contacts on this site to ask for more, but since you did fly, a refund would not be realistic.
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#4
@Jen C -- I'm a little confused as you state that your flights were rebooked for the same day, albeit at a later time than the cancelled flight had been. I don't see anywhere that you paid again for these rebooked flights. DId you pay again?
 

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
I am seeking an explanation for this practice and a full refund
You are asking for a full refund because your original flight was cancelled and you were rebooked on a later flight, on the same day?

That is not a fair expectation. "Contract Law" does not compel the airline to let you fly for free because your flight is cancelled and you were forced to fly later that day. For your inconvenience, the airline gave you each a voucher for $200. That is fair.

...Unless you paid for an additional ticket, but that does not seem to be implied in your post.

General Advice: Re-check your flights periodically after purchase. Airlines frequently change schedules/cancel and consolidate flights. Don't rely on receiving notice from the airline.
 
#6
The absolute first step in contract law is to read the contract you are entering into.

Your contract with delta gives you two choices. Cancel for a refund or rebook. You selected rebook. The issue with your luggage has nothing to do with this 'dispute.'

You are claiming that DL never sent you schedule change emails. True. They don't. Unless the schedule change exceeds a certain amount of time.

Second. Cancellation. Should have been processed automatically. The rep admitted it wasn't. She rebooked you.

Ok. So what's the problem again? You wanted to get to Medellin. They got you to MDE. You could have cancelled and rebooked someone else.

What did you want?
 
Oct 21, 2016
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#7
All, Thanks for the responses. I booked through Delta directly, my email is not set up to block anything, and my info in the system is correct. Further, they admitted they did not email me. However, I still fail to see how the original contract was in tact if the flight no longer existed. Rule 3 does not seem to apply to my situation as the flight was canceled ago months ago and my money was not refunded. Regardless, you are correct in assuming that I did not pay extra for the new flight. I will email the executives per your suggestions. Appreciate it.

@Joe Farrell - no need to respond, I got your point
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,201
16,315
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#8
If you did not pay for extra for the flight, you are owed nothing. They got you to your destination. Did you have travel insurance? Many policies have travel delay that would reimburse you for getting in later.

When you book a flight months in advance is it very common for schedule changes to be made. It's the way flying works. You got to your destination.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#9
Why should they refund you if they got you to your destination within 24 hours of your original flight?
 

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 28, 2014
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#10
My colleagues are offering advice on the situation you experienced with Delta.

I just wanted to add a "maybe next time" suggestion that most of us tend to follow.

After making an airline reservation, check the website at least weekly to see any schedule or seat changes. As the flight date approaches, check the site more often (even daily) to see if changes have occurred. This plan might have saved you the grief you experienced.

I'm not sure from your initial post if you booked in May and first checked the site on the date of the flight ...
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#11
All, Thanks for the responses. I booked through Delta directly, my email is not set up to block anything, and my info in the system is correct. Further, they admitted they did not email me. However, I still fail to see how the original contract was in tact if the flight no longer existed. Rule 3 does not seem to apply to my situation as the flight was canceled ago months ago and my money was not refunded. Regardless, you are correct in assuming that I did not pay extra for the new flight. I will email the executives per your suggestions. Appreciate it.

@Joe Farrell - no need to respond, I got your point
Your position is that the airline breached the contract. Let's assume that's true. Your remedy is the refund or the later flight. You opted for the flight. If you received an email 2 months earlier offering a refund or later flights, it would have made no difference as you had the exact same options available anyway.
 
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Likes: Neil Maley

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#12
@Jen C depending in when the flight was finally cancelled, it could have been very expensive. If they had refunded your money you would have been at the mercy of buying new tickets at the prices of the ticket that day. And you still could not have gotten on the flight you originally booked as it was cancelled.
Instead, they rebooked you at the original price you paid.
As it turned out you flew for no additional money and they offered you $200/person vouchers.
By any standard here in the Forums, you were a winner.
 
Oct 28, 2015
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#13
The absolute first step in contract law is to read the contract you are entering into.

Your contract with delta gives you two choices. Cancel for a refund or rebook. You selected rebook. The issue with your luggage has nothing to do with this 'dispute.'

You are claiming that DL never sent you schedule change emails. True. They don't. Unless the schedule change exceeds a certain amount of time.

Second. Cancellation. Should have been processed automatically. The rep admitted it wasn't. She rebooked you.

Ok. So what's the problem again? You wanted to get to Medellin. They got you to MDE. You could have cancelled and rebooked someone else.

What did you want?
And the eternal question about the RULE 3 (quoted by others above) - how is this a legal contract in the first place. My understanding of it is: We'll take your money promissing nothing in return, and whaterver we say in the apparent offer is bull.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#14
And the eternal question about the RULE 3 (quoted by others above) - how is this a legal contract in the first place. My understanding of it is: We'll take your money promissing nothing in return, and whaterver we say in the apparent offer is bull.
Contract law exists because things don't always work out. Otherwise, there would be no need for any guidance. If the aircraft had a mechanical issue, would you insist it fly anyway, so you could crash and die? Do you believe it would be reasonable for the airline to hire a private plane for the LW just to leave at that exact time? The airline took the money and transported her to the destination with a little extra for the inconvenience. Sounds like it worked out perfectly. The notification became a red herring bc she found out in time and the outcome was the same.
 
Likes: AMA
Oct 28, 2015
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#15
Contract law exists because things don't always work out. Otherwise, there would be no need for any guidance. If the aircraft had a mechanical issue, would you insist it fly anyway, so you could crash and die? Do you believe it would be reasonable for the airline to hire a private plane for the LW just to leave at that exact time? The airline took the money and transported her to the destination with a little extra for the inconvenience. Sounds like it worked out perfectly. The notification became a red herring bc she found out in time and the outcome was the same.
Thank you - but this still does not answer my question about the RULE 3 which clearly shows that there is NO CONTRACT.
Indeed, in this case the airline got them from point A to point B and not with their luggage, and not even close to the time. And it did get them there not because the airline had an obligation to do that based on Rule 3.
Just getting from point A to point B maybe it was good enough 100 years ago, but today time matters.
In the past, prior to deregulation, airlines were responsible and did everything to accomplish it e.g. by getting you on competitors flights - which did not have "mechanical" problem.
RULE 3 makes the whole "Contract of Carriage" into a non-contract as it disclaims the whole offer.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#16
I am no contract law expert but, when both parties enter into a contract, there is always an exchange occurring, typically for goods and services. When a contract goes awry there is always a remedy. In this case the remedy was to pick a different flight or receive a full refund. You chose refund.

Violation of contract law would mean that you paid for a service, did not receive that service, and were not made whole.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,201
16,315
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
Here is what the Dept. of Transportation, which rules the airlines, says about canceled flights in their airline consumer rights passage:


Airlines don't guarantee their schedules, and you should realize this when planning your trip. There are many things that can-and often do-make it impossible for flights to arrive on time. Some of these problems, like bad weather, air traffic delays, and mechanical issues, are hard to predict and often beyond the airlines' control.

If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you on their first flight to your destination on which space is available, at no additional charge. If this involves a significant delay, find out if another carrier has space and ask the first airline if they will endorse your ticket to the other carrier. Finding extra seats may be difficult, however, especially over holidays and other peak travel times.


(Which your airline did - they rebooked you on the first available flight)

Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. As discussed in the chapter on overbooking, compensation is required by law only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. Airlines almost always refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight. If the purpose of your trip is to close a potentially lucrative business deal, give a speech or lecture, attend a family function, or connect to a cruise, you might want to allow a little extra leeway and take an earlier flight. In other words, airline delays and cancellations aren't unusual, and defensive planning is a good idea when time is your most important consideration.

(Advocates - we should remember this for the future)

You can read all this information on the DOT website:
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#delayed


 
Apr 26, 2016
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#18
Here is what the Dept. of Transportation, which rules the airlines, says about canceled flights in their airline consumer rights passage:


Airlines don't guarantee their schedules, and you should realize this when planning your trip. There are many things that can-and often do-make it impossible for flights to arrive on time. Some of these problems, like bad weather, air traffic delays, and mechanical issues, are hard to predict and often beyond the airlines' control.

If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you on their first flight to your destination on which space is available, at no additional charge. If this involves a significant delay, find out if another carrier has space and ask the first airline if they will endorse your ticket to the other carrier. Finding extra seats may be difficult, however, especially over holidays and other peak travel times.


(Which your airline did - they rebooked you on the first available flight)

Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. As discussed in the chapter on overbooking, compensation is required by law only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. Airlines almost always refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight. If the purpose of your trip is to close a potentially lucrative business deal, give a speech or lecture, attend a family function, or connect to a cruise, you might want to allow a little extra leeway and take an earlier flight. In other words, airline delays and cancellations aren't unusual, and defensive planning is a good idea when time is your most important consideration.

(Advocates - we should remember this for the future)

You can read all this information on the DOT website:
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#delayed

Thanks for posting this, Neil. I have bookmarked for my own future reference.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#19
Jen, you were very fortunate that you were rebooked to fly the same day. You'll feel better reading some of the posts on this forum to see the truly awful things that airlines do to their passengers.

I'll echo my colleagues because it's important: flights must be checked on periodically to be sure there have been no changes. You are the only one responsible for making sure your plans are still viable. Communication electronically is very convenient but, as you see, fraught with peril when it comes to travel plans.