George Hobica reports on a nasty practice: Delta, apparently unhappy that some of their passengers had booked cheap tickets on nonstop flights, rebooked those customers onto far less convenient connecting flights. Like cell division, one flight had turned into two.
A friend of Hobica’s bought a New York-Denver nonstop around the holidays for a piddly $138, but…
…a couple of weeks ago, Delta called him and told him he was now on a flight leaving JFK around 6 AM, and he’d have to make a connection both coming and going. Worse, Davis is now flying on regional jets, instead of a big jet.
Naturally, he’s not pleased. There are still seats left on the Delta nonstop, but they’re selling for over $600 RT for Davis’ itinerary. It’s pretty clear what happened here: Delta kicked Davis off of the nonstop, and will now sell seats at a much higher fare than he paid to last minute purchasers.
Before anyone says it: Yes, the Delta contract of carriage (pdf) mentions that schedules are subject to change without notice, but that’s not what happened here. The schedule didn’t change, and the flight wasn’t canceled. Only this one ticket changed. The airline simply rebooked him onto a different itinerary at the same price.
Hobica hypothesizes that the airline is pre-bumping the cheap-seat customers to less convenient flights so they can continue to sell higher-priced tickets on the most desirable nonstop routes. And unfortunately, this is highly plausible.
Note that this isn’t the ranting of some crackpot who can’t tell Delta apart from Skybus. The author is a credible travel writer and the founder of the airfarewatchdog.com fare alert site.
And based on the comments of other readers on his site, the case wasn’t isolated. Several readers report the exact same phenomenon. (Several readers miss the point, too, and rant about schedule changes. Frustrating, too, but not the complaint at hand.)
If this ever happens to you, complain. If that doesn’t work, then escalate.