“Delta wants to charge my wife for dying”

When Don Horger’s wife passed away, he asked Delta Air Lines to transfer her SkyMiles to him. Delta agreed, but only if Horger would pay the transfer fee. Horger didn’t think that he should be charged the fee.

“The Delta agent I spoke to said it would cost $130 to transfer her miles to my account,” he says. “It seems very unfair to be charged for dying. My wife certainly would have preferred to be able to use her miles. I think Delta should transfer my late wife’s remaining SkyMiles to my account without charge.”

When Horger contacted our advocates for help, he also posted an inquiry to our help forums. Our help forums are staffed by industry experts, who often have helpful suggestions about how to address issues with airlines.

Our forum advocates suggested that Horger try calling Delta again. And if still unsuccessful, follow up with polite correspondence to company executives. We list executive contact information for Delta on our website. Our forum advocates thought that Horger should inform Delta that American Airlines and United Airlines had transferred miles for him at no charge.

Although Horger’s circumstances were unfortunate, Delta was following its established transaction terms by charging him to transfer his late wife’s miles to his account. And Delta’s guidelines provide that the miles “are not the property of any member” and aren’t transferable through legal proceedings which may occur due to death.

Horger followed the suggestions of our forum advocates. He reported that he called Delta again and initially, got the same response. He didn’t give up, and asked to speak to a supervisor. Using the company contact information on our website, Horger also sent polite emails to the Delta executives. Horger and his wife were loyal Delta customers, and it was shameful that it tried to extract another fee through Horger’s wife’s account, after she passed away.

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Horger said that the next day, he received a call from the first person he had emailed on our list of contacts. She was very apologetic and, as a goodwill gesture, waived the transfer fee and added 5,000 extra miles to his account.

We’re happy that Horger successfully engaged in self-advocacy and that he is “very pleased with the result.”

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

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