Is this an involuntary bump? If not, what should I get?

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Jan 25, 2018
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#1
Weird situation from earlier this month:

I originally booked two award tickets on two separate SkyMiles accounts (mine and my girlfriend's) for flt #2807, departure on Jan 4 from LGA. On Jan 3, anticipating weather delays, I rebooked both tickets for flt #2285 for a Jan 5 morning departure. On Jan 4, I get a notice that flt #2807 (first flight) is cancelled, as predicted. However, I also get an email saying my ticket on flt #2285 has been changed to a flight on Sat, Jan 6. No explanation is given as to why, nor was the flight cancelled. My ticket was just changed. However, the other ticket for flt #2285 (my girlfriend's) was NOT. She was still on flt #2285.

I spent the next 4 hours of my work day on hold, waiting for support. My call was dropped multiple times in that time as well. When I'm finally connected to a rep, they cannot explain why my ticket was cancelled, other than that it was never confirmed in their system (despite my receiving a confirmation email AND confirmation on my Delta app and in my SkyMiles account.) I'm transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor, who was very nice, also could not explain why one ticket was not confirmed, but the other was, despite the rebooking happening at the same time. She chalked it up to an error on the Delta end. She is unable to accommodate me on flt #2285 and says the seat that was mine next to my girlfriend has been taken and there is nothing else available on that flight. But she can get me on a flight later that day from JFK (flt #2634) which will land 4.5 hours after I was supposed to land on #2285. I reluctantly accept as I have no other option.

After speaking with the rep, she says all she can do for me is issue a $100 voucher for each of us and upgrade each seat to Delta Comfort+. I tell her I am not satisfied with this and do NOT consider this compensation for the trouble. She said she understood this and that she would make a note of that for when I call back at a later date. I again say that I am worried her issuing me this voucher will look as if the problem is resolved, which I did not think it was. She again said she understood and gave me a "corporate" phone number to call, admitting it was a problem on Delta's end with the reservation system.

Today, I call Delta Customer Care to find out how I will be compensated for this major inconvenience. It takes her 5 minutes to find my "case" and the only notes she has are that I received a credit and upgrade. Nothing else.

I tell her that I did not consider that compensation for waiting on hold for 4 hours, speaking with the rep for 1 hour, losing out on $200 worth of theme park tickets for the day I missed, and not being able to fly next to my girlfriend who has a fear of flying, all which could have been avoided had Delta just honored the ticket on flight #2285 that I had a confirmation for. Her response was that she could do nothing. I was already compensated.

After 10 minutes of back and forth and trying to figure out a resolution, Pat is fed up with me, despite me being polite and courteous, cuts me off mid-sentence by saying "have a nice day" and hangs up on me. I was shocked.

While I don't know if this is clearly defined as an involuntary bump, I'm treating it as such as I had a confirmed ticket and was denied boarding.

Is this situation unique? I can't find instances of it happening elsewhere.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
Huh, this is odd. I would not consider this an involuntary bump, which requires the passenger to be checked in and at the gate for boarding.

I have some questions about the chronology -- the tickets for Jan 4 (the snowstorm day) flight 2807 -- those separate reservations were rebooked for the 5th, flight 2285? Now if both had been rebooked, why would there be a notification on the 4th of problems with flight 2807? To me that hints a problem with the change. Once someone changes a flight they should not get notifications on the past reservation.

May I ask if this rebooking was done on the app on via desktop?
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
The governing document for Denied Boarding is here. This rule is reserved for cases where a flight is "oversold". Thus your situation does not qualify.

But in your post, the dates you provided are in the past, so the seat upgrade seems moot. Complicating this further is that Delta booked you on the next available flight, so they fulfilled their obligation to "get you there" (4 hours later).

However, their system failure, in my opinion, points to some compensation. Only you can decide how much is acceptable. One thing that is unclear is why you were "losing out on $200 worth of theme park tickets for the day I missed" when there was a 4 hour delay.

So, those are my thoughts. But you can appeal their in writing (email) to Delta using the Company Contacts on this site here. Start at the lowest level possible and work your way up from there. Give each level 7-10 days to respond.

And should you choose to appeal, I suggest you forego any statements of anger or distress. you want to focus on the critical points, which seem to be:
  • The system failure in processing your conformation
  • The theme park tickets that could not be used
  • Your girlfriend's fear of flying
 
Jan 25, 2018
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#4
Huh, this is odd. I would not consider this an involuntary bump, which requires the passenger to be checked in and at the gate for boarding.

I have some questions about the chronology -- the tickets for Jan 4 (the snowstorm day) flight 2807 -- those separate reservations were rebooked for the 5th, flight 2285? Now if both had been rebooked, why would there be a notification on the 4th of problems with flight 2807? To me that hints a problem with the change. Once someone changes a flight they should not get notifications on the past reservation.

May I ask if this rebooking was done on the app on via desktop?
Ok, that was my understanding of an involuntary bump. But I couldn't think of any other classification.

Correct, the #2807 tickets were rebooked on the 3rd for #2285 (the Jan 5 early Friday flight). And I agree, something didn't seem right when I saw BOTH reservations on not only my Delta app (and on the Skymiles website) but also my girlfriend's. Regardless, the #2285 said "Passenger status- confirmed". So on the morning of the 4th, we both got the notification of #2807 being cancelled. She checked her app and flight #2285 was showing. I checked my app and it said my #2285 was changed to that random Saturday flight.

I did the rebooking via phone, actually. Despite it being two separate itineraries, they let me change both at the same time without my girlfriend being present.

I'd probably be more accepting of this if BOTH had changed to that Saturday flight (but I'd still be upset). But there is no consistency. Neither of us have status, by the way.
 
Jan 25, 2018
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#5
The governing document for Denied Boarding is here. This rule is reserved for cases where a flight is "oversold". Thus your situation does not qualify.

But in your post, the dates you provided are in the past, so the seat upgrade seems moot. Complicating this further is that Delta booked you on the next available flight, so they fulfilled their obligation to "get you there" (4 hours later).

However, their system failure, in my opinion, points to some compensation. Only you can decide how much is acceptable. One thing that is unclear is why you were "losing out on $200 worth of theme park tickets for the day I missed" when there was a 4 hour delay.

So, those are my thoughts. But you can appeal their in writing (email) to Delta using the Company Contacts on this site here. Start at the lowest level possible and work your way up from there. Give each level 7-10 days to respond.

And should you choose to appeal, I suggest you forego any statements of anger or distress. you want to focus on the critical points, which seem to be:
  • The system failure in processing your conformation
  • The theme park tickets that could not be used
  • Your girlfriend's fear of flying
Thanks for the advice. My question is- How do I know this was not oversold? My first thought was they had someone with status on a wait list and they bumped me. But maybe that's the cynic in me talking. As far as I'm concerned, the $100 voucher they offered covers the park ticket (I would have landed at 10:30 and been in the park by noon. Instead, I was at the hotel by 6:30pm while the park closed at 9:00 pm. Ok, not exactly missing a full day, but enough time to do anything?). But my 4 hours of being on hold, having to travel separately from my girlfriend, and just the general nonsense of having to go through all of this (when all they had to do was honor my confirmed ticket) is what really ticked me off. How can I trust ANY ticket I get from Delta now when the emails and alerts they sent me for my rebooked flight (that ultimately got taken from me) are the same emails and alerts I got for the new rebooked flight that I flew on?

Oh right, and then their next rep hung up on me today! And I was very polite, not raising my voice, and simply trying to find a resolution.

After striking out on social media as well (they have no power), I did end up writing an email similar to my original post above stating my case to the top exec contact (lowest level). We'll see what happens.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Sighos999 the reason I asked about how the change of flights was done is because I have heard anecdotal stories of Delta technology failures and crashes during this past snow storm.

I do not think it was a case of an oversale but the computer having you confirmed two flights -- but not really confirmed for the 5th. Why technology failure? Because of the notifications for the flights on the 4th... those reservations should not have been in the system post change.

I am perplexed as to how this happened -- I had to delay flights out of LGA several months ago because of rain storms -- and I had a connection. My outbound flight was delayed and I had to change the connection-- and this was the day of flight -- and I got no notifications about the former connection (which was also delayed) -- but this was not Delta. And I am signed up for all notifications.

I have to change about 30 percent of my flights per year, and have all notifications for all flights and have not been alerted to any issues for former flights.

This sounds like a massive technological failure for Delta.

I think you should write to the contacts and ask for consideration--miles, or vouchers.

The 4th was a mess for Delta.
 
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Neil Maley

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#7
Christina is correct about involuntary bumping. It not involuntary
Thanks for the advice. My question is- How do I know this was not oversold? My first thought was they had someone with status on a wait list and they bumped me. But maybe that's the cynic in me talking. As far as I'm concerned, the $100 voucher they offered covers the park ticket (I would have landed at 10:30 and been in the park by noon. Instead, I was at the hotel by 6:30pm while the park closed at 9:00 pm. Ok, not exactly missing a full day, but enough time to do anything?). But my 4 hours of being on hold, having to travel separately from my girlfriend, and just the general nonsense of having to go through all of this (when all they had to do was honor my confirmed ticket) is what really ticked me off. How can I trust ANY ticket I get from Delta now when the emails and alerts they sent me for my rebooked flight (that ultimately got taken from me) are the same emails and alerts I got for the new rebooked flight that I flew on?

Oh right, and then their next rep hung up on me today! And I was very polite, not raising my voice, and simply trying to find a resolution.

After striking out on social media as well (they have no power), I did end up writing an email similar to my original post above stating my case to the top exec contact (lowest level). We'll see what happens.
Involuntary bumping is when you are at the airport and at the gate, they ask for volunteers if the flight is overbooked, there are no takers and you are one of the unlucky ones who are told you aren’t flying. You were never at the gate turned away so you weren’t involuntarily bumped.

The agents who were trying to help rebook you were swamped that day with thousands of cancellations and their hands are tied with what they can offer, plus there were probably hundreds more people waiting for assistance. If the agent had you arguing with her and could no longer do anything else- hanging up may have been the only way to get off the phone and help someone else who may have been waiting for help for hours.

I suggest you use our company contacts on top of our page and ask for more of a credit. If you’ve already contacted the customer service address we have, write to the first executive shown. Tell them the credit isn’t enough for your inconvenience and tell them what you want. Don’t be unreasonable with your demand. Try and ask for maybe a $500 credit. Give them a week to reply. If they say no or you hear nothing- move to the next Executive. Repeat weekly going up the chain. Hopefully one of them will do the right thing. I don’t think they did enough for the inconvenience. Let us know how you make out.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#9
Reading the link I posted above, this is what it says:

§ 250.2b
Carriers to request volunteers for denied boarding.
(a) In the event of an oversold flight, every carrier shall request volunteers for denied boarding before using any other boarding priority

The context here is clearly that passengers have arrived, checked in, and are at the gate. That is the scenario: that ticketed passengers are waiting to board and the airline knows it has more passengers than seats. Until they all show up for the flight, the airline is hedging their bets by overselling the flight (expecting no-shows).

Unless/until passengers are "present and accounted for" and then denied boarding the regulation does not apply ...
 
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Neil Maley

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#10
As the original tickets were award tickets I think the OP would have a better chance of getting a big mileage credit over large vouchers-- just my suspicion....
And that may also have been one of the criteria for canceling the ticket - non revenue vs revenue.

To our letter writer- one question- did you and your girlfriend have separate tickets or were they both on the same PNR (reservation) ? It sounds like perhaps there were 2 separate tickets not linked together. That’s one thought on why this might have happened.
 
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Jan 25, 2018
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#11
And that may also have been one of the criteria for canceling the ticket - non revenue vs revenue.

To our letter writer- one question- did you and your girlfriend have separate tickets or were they both on the same PNR (reservation) ? It sounds like perhaps there were 2 separate tickets not linked together. That’s one thought on why this might have happened.
They were on two separate reservations (two separate confirmation codes). We essentially booked them online on two separate computers at the same time. What's interesting is I called to do the rebooking and they rebooked them both at the same time for me. Both were award tickets.

Also, to clarify (because I know it's a complicated story and timeline), the original agent/supervisor I spoke with on the 4th after I discovered my ticket was cancelled was very helpful and trained very well. The agent/supervisor I spoke with yesterday (who hung up on me), not so much. The 4th was indeed a mess for the airlines...which is why I was (trying) to be smart about it and rebooking the day before on the 3rd. Instead, I still get stuck on hold for four hours on the 4th! Following Delta's Twitter feed that day brought some laughs, for sure.

I'll let you guys know how everything turns out.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#12
I suspect that’s the problem on why one of you was canceled - the flights weren’t linked so they didn’t know you were traveling together. It doesn’t matter that you were both online booking at that same time- it was two separate tickets.

In the future if you should book this way, call the airline and ask them to link your tickets so they know you are traveling together.
 
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Jan 25, 2018
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#13
I suspect that’s the problem on why one of you was canceled - the flights weren’t linked so they didn’t know you were traveling together. It doesn’t matter that you were both online booking at that same time- it was two separate tickets.

In the future if you should book this way, call the airline and ask them to link your tickets so they know you are traveling together.
Understood why just 1 of the 2 were cancelled. The question still remains- Why on earth would they just cancel a confirmed ticket on a flight and think it's OK to rebook someone on a flight that leaves the following day? Hopefully that answer comes to light in my back and forth with them, because so far...nothing.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
Sighos999 the computer likely rebooked and it does not think in some ways -- it may have been a flying out of LGA issue -- the computer did not "look" at JFK. There were thousands of changes at Delta due to the snow and subsequent problems and many airlines had it bad but Delta passengers fared amongst the worst because of the volume of flights at JFK and LGA. A lot of people are still waiting for their luggage and still cursing Delta. So a polite letter saying you realize the challenges they had, but are still disappointed in what transpired, may be effective in getting more compensation.
 
Dec 7, 2017
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#15
First off you should have taken the $100 and the seat upgrades when offered - and had her put a note that you did not believe this to be sufficient compensation.

As for a bump - no - its not.

You had a computer glitch is the fault of Delta. But a voucher, or miles and a seat upgrade seems reasonable.

The reasn you were on hold was weather related - not glitch related. . .
 
Jan 25, 2018
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#16
First off you should have taken the $100 and the seat upgrades when offered - and had her put a note that you did not believe this to be sufficient compensation.

As for a bump - no - its not.

You had a computer glitch is the fault of Delta. But a voucher, or miles and a seat upgrade seems reasonable.

The reasn you were on hold was weather related - not glitch related. . .
Hi. You'll note in the 4th paragraph of my original post, I DID ask her to put a note that I did not believe this was compensation. In fact, I believe I asked her to do this 2 or 3 times. However, after speaking to another agent just yesterday, it appears this wasn't done. I do, however, have emails with vouchers to use (and I did sit in the upgraded seat on the new new flight).

Yeah, I'm getting the "bump" thing. It was the closest thing I could think of to what happened.

Incorrect. The reason I was on hold for four hours was because of the weather. But the reason I was on hold (and had to call into customer service) to begin with was this computer glitch caused by Delta. Had they honored the confirmed ticket, I would not have been on hold. This is why I rebooked my flight the day before original departure...to avoid what I predicted would be a s**tshow on the day of the storm.
 
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Jan 25, 2018
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#19
I have to say I think you were creative in what you did. If the bookings were linked everything probably would have worked out fine.

Stick with going up the executive chain. I still think you should ask for more.
** UPDATE** So I received a pretty quick reply from one of the exec team members. They've offered to double the two vouchers from $100 each to $200 each. Even though I've had a few weeks to cool down from the experience, I still feel this isn't enough. What do you guys think? Worth it to push a little more?