Airline Opposed to Traveler’s Offer

June 1, 2014

in Odds & Ends Stories

I needed to make a flight from Western North Carolina to Des Moines, Iowa. I had a choice of several airports I could leave from, but chose Charlotte because it had the least expensive fare. Since it was Delta, it had to connect through Atlanta, Georgia. I booked the flight, and then I noticed that the same flight I was booked on was twice the price if I skipped the Charlotte-Atlanta leg and just boarded at Atlanta for the Des Moines flight. Why does half the flight cost twice as much? Because it’s a “direct” flight. Insane.

I asked the agent if I could skip the Charlotte leg, drive to Atlanta, and board the flight there. No. If I skip the Charlotte leg I’ll be put down as a no-show and my seat from Atlanta will be re-sold, too.

When I went to check in online, they asked if I would volunteer to give up my seat from Charlotte to Atlanta, and for what price (to be paid in the form of a voucher for a future flight). I called their reservation line and volunteered to give up my seat for FREE, if they would allow me to board in Atlanta. After waiting on hold while the representative called the Charlotte desk, I was told again, NO, the flight “isn’t overbooked enough.” If I wanted to give up my seat, I would have to drive to Charlotte and wait for them to ask for volunteers. By then it would be too late. Once I get to Charlotte, I’m getting on that plane.

So here’s the deal:

1) They are forcing me to drive to Charlotte to catch an hour and a half flight, then sit through a 2 hour layover in Atlanta rather than drive 3 hours to Atlanta and board the Des Moines flight.

2) They are possibly denying my CLT-ATL seat to another passenger, and the possible revenue and/or goodwill it could bring to the airline.

3) Even if they didn’t re-sell the seat, my not being in it would be a welcome increase in space, I’m sure, to the person in the adjacent seat.

In short, they had a chance to make 2 passengers happy at no cost to the airline, but instead they chose to force a less than ideal solution and cause extra discomfort. Way to go, Delta.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

frequent flier June 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

You shouldn't be surprised, airlines have followed those procedures for years. I'm not saying it's always logical, I'm saying that true frequent fliers know that's what airlines do.

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Alex June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

Delta, why you so stupid?

Reply

Jim June 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

It's more complicated than you think. You see, airlines get certain tax credits for providing service to "under served" areas and other smaller airports — to the point where a city/municipality that owns the airport will cover a "loss leader" price to provide service. But in other times, it's PURE PROFIT! Take the Phoenix to Denver market. It used to be that Phx-DEN was $500+ Roundtrip. But that same flight that went from LAX to DEN with a stop in Phoenix was only $350. You know why? Because PHX was served by Southwest air, and at the time, they didn't fly to Denver. Once Southwest started flying to denver? All of a sudden, magically! PHX-DEN flight cost dropped by a half!

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reader June 5, 2014 at 9:12 am

Jim has a good point. When Southwest entered my local market, other airlines magically dropped their fares (but kept the extra fees, which is why I still fly Southwest).

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Chris June 23, 2014 at 1:26 am

You should do a quick analysis on your own of what is cheaper/more expensive before you book tickets. If Atlanta is only 3 hours away, yet you are going to drive a couple hours to Charlotte, fly for an hour and a half to Atlanta to wait 2 hours for a layover? Well, then maybe driving is the better plan in the first place. You've got to weigh that before buying, because you are playing by the airline's rules after that.

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