Paid for a nonallowed upgrade

This item appears on page 27 of the January 2011 issue.
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My husband, Tom, and I flew to Amsterdam on our way to board a ship on Aug. 2, 2010, out of Rotterdam. I had purchased our air tickets through our travel agent the previous February. In her office, we had talked about buying them through the cruise company or independently. Because the flight booked through the cruise line might not be direct, we decided to go directly from Seattle to Amsterdam with Delta.

Both Tom and I have Delta SkyMiles accounts, his with a lot of points. We first tried to get the tickets using these points, and when we couldn’t we decided to buy the tickets using an upgradeable fare, because the cost of purchasing business-class tickets was so much more. That way, if business-class seats were available when we arrived at the airport, we could get them.

On our electronic ticket confirmation, the upgradeable status was reflected in the Flight/Class Status category as “233U OK.”

We left Spokane, Washington, on Horizon Air, which was operating for Delta as an air partner. This is a small regional carrier with no classes of service or upgrades, so we didn’t try for an upgrade.

In Seattle we asked about upgrades for our international flight and were told none were available. We flew directly to Amsterdam, from which we were to fly back after our cruise.

For our return trip on Aug. 15, we checked in at the KLM counter that operates for Delta and asked about upgrades. They sent us to the KLM service desk, where my husband and I were told that, yes, upgrades to business class were available, but since we didn’t have an S-class ticket, it would cost €300 (near $413) plus 25,000 points each.

We decided to pay it and contact Delta about this mixup when we got home.

I called Delta at the end of August to question what had happened. The SkyMiles representative I spoke with said that our fare was upgradeable and, after consulting with her colleagues, referred me to the refund department. After I went over everything with the man in refunds, he stated that we were not due a refund. When I asked why, he demanded to know if I was telling him how to do his job and hung up!

I called SkyMiles back, got a different representative and went through the whole mess again. She said that, for our international flight, we had been sold (for €300 each) an upgradeable fare good only for domestic travel, not international.

Angry over this mess and the rude customer service representative, the next day Tom and I went to the Delta website and e-mailed a complaint. I felt that their response, offering to add 3,700 bonus miles to our account, was totally inadequate.

I really want to know why we were sold upgradeable tickets for flights on which we couldn’t upgrade.

PAT MATUSZEK

Moscow, ID

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Delta Air Lines (Box 20980, Atlanta, GA 30320) and e-mailed customer-care@delta.com and was e-mailed a copy of the following letter sent to Patricia Matuszek.

I am in receipt of your Oct. 28 letter to ITN and appreciate the opportunity to further review your concerns. First and foremost, on behalf of Delta Air Lines, I want to extend my sincere apology for the difficulties you and Mr. Matuszek experienced with your tickets to and from Amsterdam. Second, I am truly sorry for your disappointment with the response you received from our customer care coordinator.

After reading your e-mail, I understand why you feel your concerns were not adequately addressed. I also want to extend my genuine apology for the rude customer service you experienced from our Passenger Refunds representative. I am at a complete loss to explain why he would hang up on you. We expect our team to be helpful and professional at all times.

Please know I will be sharing your comments with our Passenger Refunds leadership team for internal follow up.

As to your tickets, let me establish some facts about your airfare.

• Your tickets were purchased at a discounted fare of $1,750.70 each (“K”HWNR5/”U”HWNR6). These fare categories denote K class on the outbound and U class on the return. Such fares are not upgradeable.

• A fare that would have allowed upgrades (Y, B or M class) would have cost between $3,716 and $4,557 per ticket, depending on availability at the time of purchase.

• For passengers ticketed in Europe by KLM, their S class would have been an upgradeable fare. Of course, this did not apply to your tickets since they were purchased in the United States.

Based upon the restrictions of your tickets, I believe that when you approached the agent at Amsterdam they had seats available in the forward cabin and made a special exception to allow an upgrade for €300 plus 25,000 miles.

As a gesture of goodwill, I have reserved Electronic Transportation Credit Vouchers in the amount of $425 each for you and your husband to help offset the €300 you paid to upgrade on your return.

I hope I have been able to satisfactorily address the concerns you have about your airfare to Amsterdam. Your business is important to us and, given the opportunity of serving you in the future, I am confident Delta will meet your expectations. I also hope your cruise from Rotterdam was pleasant in every way.

Thank you for allowing me to respond.

KATHY M. JOHNSON, Supervisor, Customer Care, Delta Air Lines/KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

In a separate e-mail to ITN, another Delta rep wrote, “As a gesture of apology for the lack of service provided, I have added 4,000 bonus miles to (the Matuszeks’) account.”

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Tom, and I flew to Amsterdam on our way to board a ship on Aug. 2, 2010, out of Rotterdam. I had purchased our air tickets through our travel agent the previous February. In her office, we had talked about buying them through the cruise company or independently. Because the flight booked through the cruise line might not be direct, we decided to go directly from Seattle to Amsterdam with Delta.

Both Tom and I have Delta SkyMiles accounts, his with a lot of points. We first tried to get the tickets using these points, and when we couldn’t we decided to buy the tickets using an upgradeable fare, because the cost of purchasing business-class tickets was so much more. That way, if business-class seats were available when we arrived at the airport, we could get them.

On our electronic ticket confirmation, the upgradeable status was reflected in the Flight/Class Status category as “233U OK.”

We left Spokane, Washington, on Horizon Air, which was operating for Delta as an air partner. This is a small regional carrier with no classes of service or upgrades, so we didn’t try for an upgrade.

In Seattle we asked about upgrades for our international flight and were told none were available. We flew directly to Amsterdam, from which we were to fly back after our cruise.

For our return trip on Aug. 15, we checked in at the KLM counter that operates for Delta and asked about upgrades. They sent us to the KLM service desk, where my husband and I were told that, yes, upgrades to business class were available, but since we didn’t have an S-class ticket, it would cost €300 (near $413) plus 25,000 points each.

We decided to pay it and contact Delta about this mixup when we got home.

I called Delta at the end of August to question what had happened. The SkyMiles representative I spoke with said that our fare was upgradeable and, after consulting with her colleagues, referred me to the refund department. After I went over everything with the man in refunds, he stated that we were not due a refund. When I asked why, he demanded to know if I was telling him how to do his job and hung up!

I called SkyMiles back, got a different representative and went through the whole mess again. She said that, for our international flight, we had been sold (for €300 each) an upgradeable fare good only for domestic travel, not international.

Angry over this mess and the rude customer service representative, the next day Tom and I went to the Delta website and e-mailed a complaint. I felt that their response, offering to add 3,700 bonus miles to our account, was totally inadequate.

I really want to know why we were sold upgradeable tickets for flights on which we couldn’t upgrade.

PAT MATUSZEK

Moscow, ID

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Delta Air Lines (Box 20980, Atlanta, GA 30320) and e-mailed customer-care@delta.com and was e-mailed a copy of the following letter sent to Patricia Matuszek.

I am in receipt of your Oct. 28 letter to ITN and appreciate the opportunity to further review your concerns. First and foremost, on behalf of Delta Air Lines, I want to extend my sincere apology for the difficulties you and Mr. Matuszek experienced with your tickets to and from Amsterdam. Second, I am truly sorry for your disappointment with the response you received from our customer care coordinator.

After reading your e-mail, I understand why you feel your concerns were not adequately addressed. I also want to extend my genuine apology for the rude customer service you experienced from our Passenger Refunds representative. I am at a complete loss to explain why he would hang up on you. We expect our team to be helpful and professional at all times.

Please know I will be sharing your comments with our Passenger Refunds leadership team for internal follow up.

As to your tickets, let me establish some facts about your airfare.

• Your tickets were purchased at a discounted fare of $1,750.70 each (“K”HWNR5/”U”HWNR6). These fare categories denote K class on the outbound and U class on the return. Such fares are not upgradeable.

• A fare that would have allowed upgrades (Y, B or M class) would have cost between $3,716 and $4,557 per ticket, depending on availability at the time of purchase.

• For passengers ticketed in Europe by KLM, their S class would have been an upgradeable fare. Of course, this did not apply to your tickets since they were purchased in the United States.

Based upon the restrictions of your tickets, I believe that when you approached the agent at Amsterdam they had seats available in the forward cabin and made a special exception to allow an upgrade for €300 plus 25,000 miles.

As a gesture of goodwill, I have reserved Electronic Transportation Credit Vouchers in the amount of $425 each for you and your husband to help offset the €300 you paid to upgrade on your return.

I hope I have been able to satisfactorily address the concerns you have about your airfare to Amsterdam. Your business is important to us and, given the opportunity of serving you in the future, I am confident Delta will meet your expectations. I also hope your cruise from Rotterdam was pleasant in every way.

Thank you for allowing me to respond.

KATHY M. JOHNSON, Supervisor, Customer Care, Delta Air Lines/KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

In a separate e-mail to ITN, another Delta rep wrote, “As a gesture of apology for the lack of service provided, I have added 4,000 bonus miles to (the Matuszeks’) account.”