Delta Economy “Comfort” fell short — can we get a refund?

By | May 7th, 2013

delta jetRod and Carol Mourant recently flew from Seattle to Miami on Delta Air Lines, and they didn’t like it. Amid their list of complaints is one that stuck, and made me wonder if maybe they had a case.

They played by the rules, and lost. Now they want my help in righting a wrong.

“There were several events that made the trip less than enjoyable,” says Rod Mourant. “From our perspective, the most irritating were Delta’s attitude and their baggage policy. Through actual experience, we found out that Delta’s carry-on and checked baggage policies are a joke.”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The couple had purchased Economy Comfort seats together for all of their flights. But Delta had other plans.

“We discovered changes that affected arrival times, departure times and seat assignments to every flight segment about one week prior to departure,” he says. “We were not notified and only discovered them because we checked our confirmed reservations about one week before the trip.”

The remedy? A complex series of flight and schedule changes, which allowed them to sit together. But it turns out that was just the beginning. Their premium economy seats, for which they paid an extra $498 and should have come with “priority” boarding, did not live up to their billing.

He explains,

We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights where we had made the purchase until Zone 1 was called. This meant that “assisted boarding,” “children and accompanying family,” “first class,” and several levels of mileage plan fliers were boarded before us.

On more than one flight, people had to be asked to move out of our assigned seats and on all three flights the overhead bins anywhere near our seats were full before we were even called to board.

Because our seats were in the first row of Economy Comfort, there were no seats in front of us to slide our carry-on canvas bags under. When we sought assistance from flight attendants, we were told that they were too busy, there was nothing they could do and that we should just live with it.

And then the final straw: the luggage.

We paid $150 in baggage fees for one suitcase each. The suitcases were standard roller size that would fit in an overhead bin.

We chose to check them and pay the fee. We were shocked that on nearly every flight those who had chosen not to check their bags before traveling to the departure gate were given the opportunity to check their bags at the gate for no cost!

So much for doing the right thing and paying in advance to check bags. We could have checked them for free at the gate, saving $150!

Some of you are probably saying to yourself: cry me a river! Don’t these people understand air travel in the 21st century? But what does that matter? When you sell me a premium seat and promise me boarding “priority,” I expect that seat assignment to stick — and to be notified if it doesn’t — and to get on the plane early, and not after the families and people with colorful plastic cards.

And yeah, if I didn’t fly as often as I did, I’d be pretty upset too if other passengers were getting their luggage gate-checked for free when I had to pay $150.

Mourant asked for a $498 refund, which represents the Economy Comfort fees paid to Delta on their $1,392 tickets.

So how did Delta respond? Like this:

I understand your disappointment with [your] schedule change notification and the flights you were [sic] rescheduled. I realize your dissatisfaction with the seat assignment on the rescheduled flight due to which you had to rearrange your travel plan and seat assignments. I am sorry you were frustrated when other passengers were allowed to check
their carry-on bag at the gate without paying a fee.

Historically, we know when we are getting close to the amount of carry-on bags our flight will hold. At that point, our guidelines suggest we invite those who have not already boarded the plane to check their carry-on bag.

Additionally, I recognize your disappointment with our boarding procedure and the inconsistent handling of the same by our gate agent. I acknowledge that you had paid the Economy Comfort seat fee and were not satisfied with the service you received.

Feedback like yours will help us to improve our customers’ overall travel experience. Be assured I will be sharing your comments with our Reservations Sales, In-flight and Airport Customer service leadership team for internal follow-up.

Further, please know that we are unable to honor the many requests that we receive from others in similar situations. We follow a consistent policy to ensure that Delta is fair to everyone who travels with us.

Accordingly, we must respectfully decline your request for a refund of the checked baggage fee and Economy Comfort seat fee. However, as a gesture of apology for your displeasure with the service you received, schedule changes to the flights, changes to your seat assignment and inadequate flight update provided to you, I have issued two Delta Choice gifts in the amount of $25.00.

You know, I don’t think the Mourants’ request was unreasonable. They didn’t ask Delta to refund the luggage fees and they stuck to one issue, which is that they didn’t get what they paid for. But Delta would counter that they did indeed sit in Economy Comfort seats, so they got almost everything they booked.

Never mind that those economy “comfort” seats have about the same amount of legroom as all economy-class seats used to, and that it was widely considered to be a civil amount of space back then. Point is, they got what they wanted. More or less.

Should I mediate Rod and Carol Mourant's case?

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  • polexia_rogue

    first off adding “We could have checked them for free at the gate, saving $150!”

    made the OP look a little stupid and possible hurt their case. (seriously, who doesn’t know that….)

    that is why Delta wrote “Accordingly, we must respectfully decline your request for a refund of the checked baggage fee and Economy Comfort seat fee.” they read the baggage part and assumed the OP was just another spoiled complaining customer.

    and he kinda is……
    “Economy Comfort is is a little better then normal seats. My husband weighs over 300 pounds so i can tell when a seat is “has a little more room”.
    i was on a much shorter flight so my extra cost was about 150, not 498 so i felt i got my money’s worth even though i did not board early.

  • y_p_w

    Who the heck really pays extra for these things?

    I’ve already figured out that if there’s no more room for a proper carry-on sized piece of luggage on board a plane, they will gate-check it for free. And yes we’ve been some of those parents with young children who has taken advantage of the policy that families with young children board just after first and business class. I make no apologies for that, since boarding with a child and carry-on luggage can be a real chore. They still got to board before the passengers who didn’t pay that amount. And heck – the last time we flew we ended up in United’s “Economy Plus” seats without asking for them. Not together, but another passenger was willing to trade for an Economy Plus window seat. The alternative would have been our kid getting friendly with this passenger, which I think she realized was a good tradeoff.

    They got what they paid for. It sounds to me that Delta delivered everything as advertised. That it didn’t turn out to be what they’d hoped it would be is another matter.

  • backprop

    The request is for a refund of the extra paid for Economy Comfort, because Economy Comfort didn’t live up to expectations vs. plain economy. Let’s look at the complaints and see if they are valid in light of the request:

    1. “We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights where we had made the purchase until Zone 1 was called” – BUZZZ. Delta’s website says this is exactly when you’ll board

    2. “On more than one flight, people had to be asked to move out of our assigned seats.” BUZZZZ. They moved, right? Then, so what?

    3. “Because our seats were in the first row of Economy Comfort, there were no seats in front of us to slide our carry-on canvas bags under.” BUZZZZ. That’s generally how the first row of an aircraft works. Did you expect them to install mock seats in row 0A so that you could slide your stuff underneath?

    4. “When we sought assistance from flight attendants, we were told that they were too busy, there was nothing they could do and that we should just live with it.” BUZZZ. What would you have them do? I commend them for putting up with insufferable twits asking stupid questions.

    5. ” on all three flights the overhead bins anywhere near our seats were full before we were even called to board.” BUZZZZ. Nothing guarantees you overhead space. Next!

    6. “We paid $150 in baggage fees for one suitcase each. The suitcases were standard roller size that would fit in an overhead bin….” BUZZZZ. You got exactly what you paid for when you checked your bags. They went into the cargo hold and you got them back upon landing. What do you think the airline would do if your single carry-on size bag wouldn’t fit in the overhead? Grind it up and make confetti out of it?

    Nothing due. In fact, I think Christopher should confiscate their undeserved $25 vouchers and give them away in a raffle to one of his readers.

  • y_p_w
  • backprop

    Thanks – fixed it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I have to agree with backdrop. The complaints lack merit, particularly the fact that the priority boarding wasn’t as priority as the OP desired. He should have checked to see exactly what was being sold before he bought the “upgrade”

  • y_p_w

    I have seen everything from 1 to 5 in my rather limited flying experience. Welcome to the club Mr. and Mrs. Mourant. People have been in my seat or even an obese passenger overfilling into my seat. No big whup. I’ve sat in a bulkhead seat. That’s when the flight attendants don’t care if you stow stuff in the overheads or side bins (if any).

    And complaining that the overhead bins are full near one’s seat is downright hilarious. I estimate that there’s approximately space for about 3/4 of the passengers on an average flight to stow 21″ carry-ons in the overhead. I’ve ended up going halfway across the plane for room. What’s new and what’s different. Eve when we were in the group that included parents with young children, we’ve ended up with no space nearby. If you want to thank anything for that, it’s the charge for checked-in luggage when two bags used to come with the airfare.

  • Michael__K

    I repeatedly see the claim that airline amenities have disappeared because people vote with their wallets and choose flights strictly based on price.

    Well, here is a couple that was clearly willing to pay more to get more.

    And I guess contractually they got what they paid for. But as novice passengers, it was not what they anticipated. Plus they unnecessarily incurred baggage fees.

    The irony is that passengers like this couple are more profitable to the airline and partly subsidize those of us who know better how to navigate the rules and avoid fees.

  • LOL. Good one. Just like to add:

    Something smells fishy. Even if the other categories boarded before the OP, that still leaves at least 50% of the plane. They couldn’t find any overhead space? Really?

    And what’s with the preoccupation with sitting together? You’re (hopefully) going to spend the rest of your lives together. Is a few hours of sitting apart really enough to ask for a refund?

    And if you’re willing to pay $150 in extra baggage fees, for goodness’ sake, bring more than carry-on size!

    I had to LOL at the $25 “gifts” from Delta. Anytime an airline / cruiseline offers you $25 anything, that’s akin to a slap in the face.

  • frostysnowman

    Mostly I think the OP has a laundry list of complaints that don’t warrant any compensation. But as a general comment, I do think that anyone who pays extra for economy plus-type should somehow be guaranteed the overhead space that comes with them. I’m not sure how that could happen, because I always see people putting bags in the overheard bins at the front of the plane who are sitting further back, and flight attendants usually don’t say anything to them about it. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Charles B

    As long as we’re pointing out the things you should know about Delta ahead of time: Zone 1 boarding is a free perk to anyone who buys their tickets with their Delta AmEx. It is indeed about the 3rd or 4th rank of boarding.

  • Blackadar

    Agree with backprop. They expected to be treated like royalty for the cost of a very small upgrade. I don’t believe them when they said there was no overhead space, nor do I care that they weren’t first in boarding priority (nor should they be). I think this is simply a case where people don’t travel very often and simply don’t understand how air travel works.

    As such, there’s nothing to mediate. The Mourants need to stop feeling entitled and start to understand how air travel works in the 21st century.

  • backprop

    “They couldn’t find any overhead space? Really?”

    Yea, I detected that it just wasn’t close enough for their comfort when they used the squishy, mealy-mouthed “the overhead bins *anywhere near our seats* were full.” I bet they had to go back maybe 2-3 bins worth (often the first is oxygen or blankets or whatever anyway) and they just didn’t like that.

    If the bins truly were unreasonably occupied I’m guessing they would have said something specific like “We went back 15 rows and opened every bin and they were all full.”

    Another example of the mealy-mouthed-speak from these jokers is the phrase, “On more than one flight,” as in “On more than one flight, people had to be asked to move out of our assigned seats.”

    I generally find that when people are trying to puff up their claims, “on more than one [whatever]” means it happened exactly once. If they were keeping such close tally of the laundry list of unpleasantries, why wouldn’t they have an exact count for this one?

  • flyingwithfish

    The Economy Comfort seats have additional leg room, but are the same width as standard economy seats. Economy Comfort boards in Zone 1, which is a “priority boarding,” but after those who need special assistance, including families, then the ‘Elites’ … the passengers who are very loyal to the airline. This is the same boarding process for almost every major airline.

  • Anon

    anyone that willingly pays more for a seat knowing there are other cheapers ones available is an idiot, all the seats take you to the same location, you dont get there any quiker therefore its a waste of money. This is a case of “flashing the cash” gone wrong.

  • cjr001

    “We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights where we had made the purchase until Zone 1 was called.”

    Have these people never flown before? This is SOP with all airlines.

    Some airlines do give you the chance to game the system by not charging for a checked bag at the gate if they think they’ll run out of overhead space (such as United). Some will not.

    There’s really nothing to mediate here. Unless, Christopher, you think you can get the airlines to enforce their ‘rules’ about the usage of the overhead bin space, etc. G’luck with that. :)

    Come to think of it, the one thing that airlines should do is guarantee overhead bin space for those seated in row 1, since they have no seats to place their stuff under. That would at least be fair.

  • cjr001

    As I’ve said before, the airlines are not big on enforcing their own overhead baggage rules, and they should. It’s a problem of their own making since they started shaking passengers down for luggage fees.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Did they think that “priority boarding” meant BEFORE Zone 1? I don’t get these people.

    If people were in their seats and moved, I’m not certain I understand the problem there, either? Except maybe they didn’t want to talk with this “rifraff” or something???

    And finally…bulkhead seats are a hot commodity. They are actually complaining because they didn’t have a seat to put their stuff under and God forbid they had to stand up and find a spot for their junk? Heaven forbid the FAs be otherwise occupied and unable to store luggage for these people.

    I said don’t mediate. These sound like people you can’t please.


    My only gripe with your gripe is that when you go to Delta’s web site (as per the boarding procedure), all they say is “Zone 1.” If these people are infrequent travelers, I don’t think that it is unreasonable to assume that something called “Zone 1” would actually board…you know…first. I have gotten a Zone 1 boarding pass on USAirways and I really thought that by the time they called me, I would have gotten on to a nearly full plane!

  • EdB

    So all those people in first class are idiots because they didn’t buy cheaper seats? Paying extra for a seat is not about getting there faster or to a different location or even “flashing the cash” . It is about the extras that you are suppose to be getting for the money. In this case, it sounds like the OP didn’t know what the extra money was buying and was disappointed when it didn’t meet their expectations.


    Even if they did check to see what was being sold, when you go to Delta’s web site (as per the boarding procedure), all they say is “Zone 1.” If these people are infrequent travelers, I don’t think that it is unreasonable to assume that something called “Zone 1” would actually board…you know…first. Perhaps airlines should stop calling something “Zone 1” when, in reality, it is more like the third, fourth, or fifth group of people to board.

  • Steven Scholnick

    Let me get this right, they are *complaining” about sitting in bulk head seats? Really? Come on! No need to mediate this one.


    Correct. I still insist that calling it “Zone 1” is deceptive, at best, and outright lying, at worst. It’s become pretty standard to think that anything labeled “1” or first would actually be first, no?

  • cahdot

    priority boarding is now zone 1 which is after everyone else who thinks they need special boarding and first class and elite flyers.. leaving no room for overhead bin space as the early get-ons feel they should use it all and not put anything under the seat in front???? sad even tho one pays XXtra to get zone 1 via prem economy or special credit cards….

  • y_p_w

    There is no rule that mandates that passengers must place their baggage in an overhead bin closest to their seat. The only rule I’ve seen enforced regarding the bins was when personal items (jackets, laptop bags) small enough to go under a seat were placed in the bins and they started telling passengers to remove them such that they could be used for standard sized carry-on. That and wheels out (not sure what that does).

  • MarkKelling

    On a recent UA flight, some huffy entitled-feeling passenger who made a big noise at the gate about not getting his “deserved” upgrade shoved his hugely oversized folding suit bag into a 1st class overhead on his way back to his exit row seat (there was plenty of overhead space at the exit rows). When the remaining 1st class passengers got on and had no space, the flight attendant asked who’s bag it was. No on claimed it. She then announced on the PA and said that if it was not claimed, it would be removed from the plane – she announced this 3 times. The huffy guy never claimed it. It was tossed off the plane. Too bad I didn’t have the time to wait and see what his response was when it wasn’t there.

  • backprop

    They were not upset that Zone 1 boarded after elites. They were upset that THEY had to wait until Zone 1 was called. And that’s when the website says they’ll be called.

  • BostonFF

    silly us-when will we accept that we are just handing money to a company to get us from point a to b, with no guarantee of exactly how or when (or where will sit) , and whether our bags will travel with us? Once we accept this fact we will have so much stress removed form our travel. Just show up, wait to be pointed in a direction, shuffle through like cattle in the stockyards being herded into the chutes, and off we go! Bon voyage.

  • Extra mail

    I have to admit that I learned the hard way that the airlines have forced us to “game” the system. I’ve learned to pack a suitcase that qualifies as a roll aboard and hope I get an overhead in; if I don’t, at least I haven’t had to pay the bag check fee. And, it is really irritating to sit and watch those who think they need “assistance” boarding board early when, in reality, they just want to snag a bin towards the front of the plane. If I have to check a bag, I pay for the ticket with the “right” credit card so I avoid the fee. And, then I don’t carry on anything except a purse with my kindle I. It and I wait until the very end to board so I don’t have to put up with all the “stuff” going on during boarding.

  • Dave Thunder

    How heavy were their suitcases? It would seem that their luggage exceeded the weight restriction to ring in at $150. And EC upgrades north of $175/seat? For that kind of money, they should have bought Sky Priority, which would have allowed them to board prior to Zone 1 and given them even more reason to complain…I mean for that kind of money, they should have let them in the cockpit to take a photo with the pilot and get some of those cute plastic wings.

  • backprop

    As stated above, at least per the narrative, they were not upset that Zone 1 boards after those with disabilities, elites, etc. They were upset that they, as “economy comfort” passengers, had to wait for Zone 1. But the website says exactly that.

    In the grand scheme of things, economy comfort is economy. These people are treating it like a different class of service.

  • MarkKelling

    If you don’t care about leg room, OK, maybe. I prefer the extra couple inches to extend my legs.

    You could say the same thing about the car people drive — you are an idiot if you buy a Porsche or Mercedes or a Lexus or a Cadillac or even paying more for the better sound system and air conditioning because the car will still get you where you are going if you buy the cheapest one out there.

  • EdB

    Zone means an area. Zone 1 just mean the first area, just as row 1 is the first row. Since it was common in the past to load the back of the plane first (i.e. Rows greater than one), it would stand to reason zone 1 would be the last to load since it is in the front. In fact, several years ago, one flight I took did just that.

  • Phyllis K. Buonopane

    I am handicapped and I pre board. I am grateful to the airlines that allow me to do this. It takes a little longer for me to walk down the jetway and get settled in my seat. I appreciate not getting pushed, shoved and knocked off balance. I don’t take huge carryon bags, I check my bag
    and never have trouble with finding overhead space because I don’t use it. I just shove my bag under the seat and I don’t book bulkhead seats. OP is just an inexperienced traveler and I think Delta was generous giving them $25

  • MarkKelling

    How did they lose?

    They got seats in the correct area on all flights. They boarded in the group they should have. Their luggage was not lost (they chose to pay to have it checked, their choice, not forced by the airline). They got where they needed to go. They were able to reschedule their flights, apparently with no additional charges, when the airline changed their original flights and they found the new flights unacceptable. Sounds to me like they got everything they paid for.

    Unfortunately, it seems they must not be frequent flyers (or even recent flyers) and maybe still think it is like it was portrayed in movies from the 1960’s – a glamorous Hollywood experience. Guess they found out otherwise. Flying these days in almost never an enjoyable experience.

  • MJonTravel

    What’s to mediate? They got exactly what they paid for. Plus, I don’t get why checking just two carryon s cost $150 dollars. I’m sure I’m missing something.

  • frostysnowman

    Great story!

  • Chasmosaur

    They lost me with their claims on baggage fees. Not because they played by the rules – I do that all the time (and for someone who has been in PT for over a year, it’s cheaper than extra PT sessions to check my bag). Delta is my default airline, since MSP is my default airport, so I’m well aware of their fee structure.

    If they were each checking one bag each way on a domestic flight, they would have paid no more than $60 each way. ($25 for the first, $35 for the second) so that’s $120, not $150. I’m curious where the extra $15 per flight/$30 total came from.

    Which means hyperbole is already present.

    Also, priority boarding in this case means you are Zone 1. That they flew on flights that seemed to have been heavily populated by business travelers and families is just par for the course.

    And seriously – you chose bulkhead and are bitching about the lack of OHB space? Really? When you chose the seats, you didn’t pick numbers out of a hat, you had a little seat map.

    Finally – are you blaming Delta for idiot passengers who try to steal your seats?

  • Chasmosaur

    Sorry. Next time I injure my lower leg which keeps me on crutches for 5 months and a cane for 5 months after that, I’ll rethink whether or not I actually need special boarding. Or better yet, I’ll get in front of you as I hobble down the jetway and try to manage my crutches/cane and teeny-tiny, fits under the seat carry on.

  • Frank Windows

    Let’s take it as read that flying nowadays sucks, especially if you have no status. I think a refund of the baggage fees would be a reasonable request. After all, that’s the reason for the overhead-bin rat race. But what the Mourants paid for was not to be squeezed into a sardine-can-like 31″ pitch seat with the person ahead of them able to recline right into their nose. I’m assuming they knew they had bulkhead seats, and I don’t know where they thought their bags would go. (Even if they’ve never flown on an airplane, a trip to Seatguru would have spelled that out.) And not having one’s bags nearby is not the end of the world. Once you get to Group 3 or 4 on my airline of choice, everything gets checked, and you should see the brouhaha that results when the airline wants to check a parent’s baby bag.

    Anyway… the Mourants’ complaint is legit, but again, that’s flying today. I sympathize, but I do think that they technically got what they paid for. Better to tell Delta that if this is the extra-cost experience, they simply won’t be buying again.

  • emanon256

    My theory is this, and its just a theory. They say they checked 1 bag each, so perhaps it was just the $25 per person per bag. But they also mention 3 flights. So maybe they had a stopover somewhere where they retrieved their bags. Then re-checked them. So 3 1-ways at $50 per one-way woudl make $150. Otherwise, they are probably just rounding up to try and get more pity.

  • Brian Slee

    Anyone who has ever flown on a flight with Americans onboard knows that Americans bring far too much luggage into the cabin. How they get away with it I do not know. Their over head bins were full over the luggage brought on by their fellow countrymen.
    Anyone who has ever been on a flight knows that the first row of a section will probably be at a bulkhead, so nowhere to put bags on the floor.
    Of course those people board first! In comfort you just board before the main Economy cabin.
    Did they actually sit in a ‘comfort economy’ seat? If so, then no contest.
    I recently did a transatlantic on Delta, Minneapolis to Amsterdam, in comfort economy. Great product and worth every penny.

  • emanon256

    I had to vote no. I don’t see anything here that is not normal travel or merits any sort of refund. Also, Chris mentioned they didn’t ask for the baggage fee to be reimbursed, but in Deltas response, Delta addresses their request for the baggage fee to be reimbursed. So it sounds like they did.

    Also, when someone books airfare, isn’t it standard practice to check again for schedule changes? I don’t think I have ever had an airline contact me for a schedule change, and schedule changes are pretty routine. Remember Chris article about the flight control center and how much work it is to manage a fleet, scheduled trips, and efficacy? The OP mentions they only find out about the change because they checked their reservation a week out, I would hope people would check their reservation. Then they called and Delta re-scheduled them and sat them together, which they normally do when there is a schedule change. In my mind, Delta did a good job here.

    I won’t address most of the issues as many people already have and I could not agree more (I like Backprops analysis). But I am curious about the baggage fees. If they checked 1 bag each, that’s $50 total per trip ($25 for the first bag per person). If they checked them both under 1 person, it would be $60. So they paid either $100 or $120, how did that balloon to $150? Or did they somehow book 3 one-way flights and end up having to claim and re-check their bags along the way, that would make it $150 if they checked 1 bag each. Also, they complain about the fact that they paid to check their bags, and then people got to check their bags for free when the plane was full? Well wouldn’t they have done the same them selves after seeing this on their first flight? Unless they saw it, thought about it, and decided they would pay anyway to not have to drag their bags around and just use it in their complaint to get their money back. I am sorry, but they sound greedy and difficult to please to me. I would stay away from them.

  • emanon256

    They were upset that first class and people with disabilities boarded before them. Well they didn’t buy a first class ticket. Sounds like a case of, “I wanted first class treatment, but only paid for Economy Comfort.”

  • MarkKelling

    So they could have claimed disability and got to board earlier. At least they didn’t do that and did wait for their turn.

  • cjr001

    I’ve been on a number of flights where the FAs stress that people need to put stuff in the bins near them. But then they don’t really actually do anything about stopping anybody who’s sitting in the back of the plane from putting something in a bin in the front.

    And yeah, ‘wheels out’ is another one I’ve heard them say often, but then never actually do anything about.

  • emanon256

    It sounds like they tried to board earlier anyway and were turned away:

    We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights where we had made the purchase until Zone 1 was called.

    I am glad people with disabilities are allowed to board first. While some people may lie to take advantage of it, I believe the majority do not, and its very much needed to accommodate those who do have disabilities, even hidden ones.

  • MarkKelling

    “wheels out” (or in, depending on the airline) just means don’t put the bag in sideways where it takes up more linear space. I see many people do this and then stuff their coats and grocery bags and whatever else they dragged on with them in font of the suitcase instead of on top of the suitcase effectively doubling their occupied overhead space.

  • emanon256

    I don’t get the wheels out either. My bag fits both ways, handle out or wheels out, but of course, its also legal size. Ive seen people with bags to long put theirs in and the bin won’t close, and the FA asks them to put it wheels out, and guess what, it still wont close. Then they turn the bag sideways and the FA tells them they will need to check it and walks away, and then the person closes the bin. So annoying! I too wish the FAs would follow their own rules and make them check it.

  • LeeAnneClark

    How odd. Out of 45 comments so far, not one is supportive of the poor, beleaguered Mourants. Pretty much every comment is saying some version of “these people are self-important, overly entitled, inexperienced travelers with a laundry list of silly complaints comprised of the same irritations that every other passenger experiences, none of which are worthy of mediation, much less the slap-in-the-face $25 vouchers that Delta threw their way to shut them up.” And yet…the poll is currently at 62% for mediation! Who are these voters who think Christopher should bother with these people?

  • Yea … we can agree on something again. Off to buy the lottery ticket!

  • EdB

    “Did they think that “priority boarding” meant BEFORE Zone 1?”

    My guess is the OP had heard about first class and frequent flyers getting “priority” boarding and figured when they paid extra for an upgrade that included priority boarding, they would get that same treatment. But as has been pointed out in another post, it was a lower priority than first class priority.

  • EdB

    If they say it needs to be checked, they should have the pax remove it and check it before walking away. Are they expecting the pax to fight the incoming flow to get to the front and try explaining to possibly a different FA that it needs to be gate checked? We all know that ain’t gonna happen.

  • pauletteb

    Being an “infrequent traveler” is no excuse for not knowing what airline terms actually mean.

  • DavidYoung2

    I agree that they ‘look a little stupid.’ If you’re in Boarding Zone 1, you will always find overhead space. Maybe not exactly above your seat, but you will find it. The OP paid the luggage fees to MAKE SURE they checked their bags. Otherwise, it’s a gamble if they’re going to allow free ‘gate checked’ bags. But besides, who really cares if somebody else got something for free as long as YOU get what you paid for? Sounds kind of like ‘sour grapes.’

    Regarding the boarding zones, yes disabled people and those with small children go first. It speeds up the boarding process. And yes, FC goes before EC. As do Elites. The fact that the OP didn’t know this isn’t Delta’s fault. The disabled, small children and FC rule seem pretty intuitive. Maybe they can complain about the Elites going first, but is it really that big of an issue?

    This sounds all very petty. File them in the whiner bin.

  • Dutchess

    “We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights where we had made the purchase until Zone 1 was called. This meant that “assisted boarding,” “children and accompanying family,” “first class,” and

    several levels of mileage plan fliers were boarded before us.”

    Yeah, that’s how it works. What did they expect?

    “Because our seats were in the first row of Economy Comfort, there were no seats in front of us to slide our carry-on canvas bags under. When we sought assistance from flight attendants, we were told that they were too busy, there was nothing they could do and that we should just live with it.”

    Yeah, that’s how that always works. What did they expect?

    “So much for doing the right thing and paying in advance to check bags. We could have checked them for free at the gate, saving $150!”

    Ugh, I’m going to stop here because it obviously sounds like these are inexperienced fliers who expected to be treated like royalty in economy. I can’t imagine that every overhead bin was full when boarding at Zone 1. I simply don’t believe them. I’m not sure what you’re expected to mediate.

  • Dutchess

    I thought the, “we were seated in row 1 of economy and there was no seats in front of me to store our luggage” was what made them look foolish. If not foolish, like someone who doesn’t travel very often.

  • $16635417

    Outbound, they paid to check their bags and found out if they chose to lug them through the TSA checkpoint and through the airport they could have then got them checked for free at the gate. Why didn’t they do that on the return?

  • y_p_w

    Sounds like they decided to prepay. 3 segments for 2 passengers at $25 a bag would be $150.

  • y_p_w

    I’m sure it wasn’t. However it sounds as if they expected that they’d be virtually guaranteed the overhead space above their seats.

  • Poley King

    Single roller bags 1 per passenger is $25 x2 so $100 RT. They chose to check their bags out of convenience. If they were really small enough for overhead, no one forced them to check the bags

  • y_p_w

    I think they probably flew 3 flight segments.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve requested flight schedule notifications. It can be sent via email, text message, or phone call. Once I got a call from Dallas which was an automated message from Southwest regarding my flight being delayed.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Agreed. That’s the primary reason people want to sit in that row. They either didn’t know where they were going to be, or somehow wanted to have it both ways.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    The only part of the letter that was somewhat interesting to me is that on multiple flights there were people sitting in their seats. Were people staking out those seats hoping to get the extra legroom if they were going to be open?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    But by that logic, it’d be fair for them to gripe that “1” doesn’t always get you to the ground floor in an elevator. That’s why the website spells out what the boarding zones actually mean, so people can avoid confusion.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Honestly, I’m not clear what their exact issue was. It should have been obvious they’d be boarding after first class. And you frequently get the “families with small children” call early on. And frequent flyer rewards groups always board early. Who exactly did they think should have been behind them?

  • y_p_w

    “We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights….”

    So $25 x 2 pax x 3 flights = $150.

    I’ve actually seen a lot of odd stuff go on. I saw a group with four bags to be checked in and two overweight by about 7 and 2 lbs. The counter agent specifically asked if they wanted to take a little time to shuffle their contents since each overweight bag cost $30 more. So instead of taking a minute to move about 3-4 lbs from one bag to another, they spent $60 more when it could have only been $30. Some people just don’t seem to get it.

  • y_p_w

    Until a login is required to vote, there will be people just coming here and voting without any further input. Pretty much anyone who posts has traveled enough to know how silly these complaints are given the realities of 21st century air travel.

  • y_p_w

    It was actually much better when checked-in luggage was included. The last time I flew US domestic on a legacy airline with two checked-in bags at no extra cost was 2006. Heck – I looked it up and decided it was worth it to transport $20 worth of junk I’d bought in Miami and even buy a cardboard box and strapping tape for $3 to store all that stuff. Today that stuff would have been abandoned in my hotel room.

    Then it changed to one free bag, which wasn’t that bad. When the first bag went to $15/20/25 is when the overhead bins started getting filled.

    As much as some people ridicule Southwest for their cattle call style boarding, the two complimentary bags per pax are a big deal to me. Even if I’ve only got carry-on sized luggage, I’ll check them in so that we can concentrate on keeping our kid from running around the security area. I think once we had something like three carry-ons, three personal items, a stroller, and a child car seat. We almost forgot one of the bags. It’s gotten this way because the airlines are willing to play the fare game by charging a la carte when it used to all be included and would typically go smoothly.

  • y_p_w

    “We were consistently not allowed to board for those three flights”.

    The article didn’t say anything about this being a round trip. It sound more like two stops then home.

  • y_p_w

    While I’ve experienced that the crew don’t want people storing small personal items or clothing in the overheads if they anticipate the bins will get full, they will likely make an exception for those sitting in bulkhead seats with no means of placing stuff underneath.

    I’d recently taken a flight on Southwest and was maybe the 60th passenger to board. I actually found that of the six front bulkhead seats, only two were taken so I took one. I think some passengers were actively avoiding those seats. I kind of like them because there’s no seat to recline onto your lap, but then again I couldn’t slip my feet under the seat to effectively get a little more legroom.

  • chickadee

    Yes, that’s exactly what they were doing. That has happened to me multiple times, although I don’t pay for the minor upgrade…I get it because my company books seats on planes that have no available regular seats so I get the better seats if no one else pays for them.

  • sunshipballoons

    It’s not clear to me what they paid for that they didn’t get? Was it the early boarding? We’d need to see the ticket terms — maybe it said that “early boarding” means you get on with zone 1.

  • Daddydo

    I have not laughed so long in a while. Delta being helpful, schedules being correct or having been notified? Why would you expect anything better from Delta? Seattle seems to create the highest number of complaints as I fly there monthly. There is a 90% chance of an oversell, a 95% chance of an excuse blamed on the computer, and a 100% chance of horrific service.

    I advise all of my clients to take their luggage to the gate. Saves $100.’s. Airlines allow this cheat, and I will take advantage of it, BUT! You have to contend with the TSA regulations when you take your shampoo, booze , and whatever illegals through the scanners.

  • y_p_w

    I’d already put mine in with the wheels in sitting against the bottom of the bin. I know not to place it sideways. I didn’t get exactly what the difference was, but I get that one shouldn’t hog up the space. Most of my bags have a handle on the wheel side (also serves as a rest with two-wheeled luggage).

    Of course my wife brought along a small duffel bag, so what’s wheel side and what’s handle side? ;)

  • y_p_w

    And I thank them for helping subsidize more savvy travelers. In the internet era, it’s not that difficult to become savvy in a hurry.

  • MarkKelling

    And on a WN plane, there is no tray table in the bulkhead rows. For some people (not me) this is a definite necessity to have one.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve accidentally sat in the wrong row, which happened to be the emergency exit row with a bit extra legroom and an additional $10 cost. The were 12 of these seats on a particular 737 and other than me there was one other passenger in those seats.

    I think that some people hope that others are too cheap to purchase “premium seating” and that they can simply grab them in hopes that nobody was willing to pay for the privilege.

  • backprop

    Yea, especially that early in the boarding process. The OP was likely swarming around the gate to get the earliest possible boarding. It’s hard to believe the plane was more than maybe 25% full at most when they finally got on..and somebody was already grabbing seats.

  • MarkKelling

    My travel companion uses a wheeled bag. I prefer one without wheels. Hers fits much better in most bins with wheels in first rather than out. Only had one flight attendant insist she put it in wheels out even though the door would not close with it that way. Flight attendant was going to get a gate check ticket for it when I turned the bag around and closed the door on the full bin without issue. FA got in a huff when she returned, but we didn’t have to check the bag. Oh, and we got bypassed during drink time. Oh well.

  • Zod

    I voted yes if for no other reason than the airlines need to be held accountable!

  • y_p_w

    I do remember seeing some airline seats with this complicated mechanism where the tray retracted into a fixed armrest. I don’t remember seeing that one on my last flight on Southwest, and they may not do this at all.

    In fact, here’s a photo of a couple of bulkhead seats on Delta Economy Comfort:

    Looks like the tray is stored inside the armrest to the left of each passenger.

  • FB

    First off, economy comfort seats are not “premium economy” they are the same product in coach with more leg room and “priority boarding”. The boarding goes as follows: pre boarding, first class, sky priority, zone 1, 2, 3 etc. Economy comfort seats get zone 1, if they were not elite passengers they would have been in zone 2 or 3. It depends on how big the bags were; if they were larger than a carry on allowed in the cabin, TSA would not allow them to pass through security with them and they would be forced to check them. The baggage fees allows someone to not have to carry them through security to the gate etc, otherwise they could of brought them and checked them for free if they wanted to. $150 for two bags seems a lot since it should be $25 per bag… something with the story doesn’t add up or they were really big bags.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I always thought those were really cool. Didn’t realize they weren’t standard.

  • y_p_w

    I remember when Southwest (and maybe Alaska?) used to have bulkhead seats that faced backwards. So not only were there six seats without a tray and storage space in front, but twelve.

    I have also flown first class once in the mid-90s. Our seats had standard trays, but the armrests in that MD-11 had flat screen monitors that pulled out which we could use to watch several channels. It wasn’t on demand video, but we could each tune to whatever channel we wanted and the movies just looped over again. I could have sworn there was a video screen the last time I flew on a 777-200, but that was on the back of the seat in front of me and was in economy.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    polexia – I read your comment first and it said everything I was going to say. I’ll always gate check my bin sized suitcases at no charge. To quote you, “Seriously, who doesn’t know that?”

    I ask for disability seating due to my RA and it’s the EC seats on Delta. I won’t displace someone but if a seat’s open, I’ll ask for it (I check several days before I leave to make sure I’m not taking someone’s premium seat before asking).

  • y_p_w

    I’ve found that TSA is actually pretty lax about the size. At some airports I’ve seen that the measuring boxes or cages are airline specific, as some airlines have different requirements based on how they’ve configured their overhead bins. If anyone is going to stop someone for having oversized luggage before it reaches the bins, it will be the airline employee at the gate.

  • Chasmosaur

    I think they’re rounding up. Because otherwise, I’m sure we would have heard about how horrible the luggage process was in general.

  • Chasmosaur

    The only thing I can think is, if they were in bulkhead, some people pulled that lovely trick of stowing their bags in the front-most OHB so they don’t have to walk to their seats further back while carrying luggage.

    I do wish FA’s would do something about that, and I don’t understand why they don’t. I’ve seen it on more than just Delta, so I don’t feel like we can pin this on them. Because I did a bunch of early seating last year while I was on my crutches. I saw many people who did that and no one ever called them on it. (I tried to – they would breeze on by – with my crutches in the closet or OHB, I couldn’t even trip them ;) )

    So someone who is even Zone 1 has to put their bag at least 5 or 6 rows back, even though their row may be empty or mostly empty. It’s ridiculous – if you’re going to carry on a bag, carry it with you.

  • foggybear

    I voted yes. As an infrequent flier (once every 5 to 10 years), I can easily see how the Mourants could feel like victims of false advertising and fee grabbing. Delta’s letter acknowledging the standard response to frequent complaints is essentially the middle finger “to be fair” is infuriating. Perhaps Christopher can at least get the baggage fees returned, since the counter agent could have let them know that gate checking was a free option available to them but chose a fee grab over customer courtesy. Since there is little tolerance for difficulties arising from inexperience around here, however, I originally opted to keep my reasoning to myself.

  • bean5671

    RANT warning>>>>>>

    I read this site every week and have never posted. I have always 15 + years been in a high travel industry mostly highway miles 40000 + last year alone recently my area changed so now i am flying every week

    And I have to tell you guys I feel they did not get what they paid for and should be give a FULL refund

    Difference in view point are they paying for simple point A to Point B or for the experience between to the Mourants the experience is what they paid for and they did not receive it

    I hate flying now all tickets should be refundable all rooms should be cancel-able up to the day of arrival. I should be able to use Cash not forced to give a card stop nickle and dimeing me

    this industry needs a kick in the pants

  • Louise

    It was that strange letter from Delta that made me vote “yes.” It sounded as though the writer was talking to his therapist!

  • Yup, go after Delta. I was a Continental flyer and now a UA flyer … very few issues over the years but when the occasional problem arose, the attitude was always “well, that’s too bad, now shut up, do what we tell you”. It’s maddening and the airlines should not be allowed to get away with it.

  • phxross

    If you board in Zone 2 there’s got to be carry-on space available… just farther back. I fly frequently and get plenty of carry on overhead space as long as I board by Zone 2. Delta is relatively clear on what you are purchasing, they specifically say when you’ll board, what the seat has/doesn’t have. And I’m trying to figure out how they paid $150 round trip for a single bag each under 50 lbs.

  • phxross

    So true. Why not bring 1 larger bag thus reducing luggage cost by 50%.Hubby and I each like aisle so we’re lucky if we’re within 5 rows of each other. Because I have a bad back I often buy EC and hubby takes standard.

  • phxross

    Forgot to add, interestingly I’ve found that on Delta and USAir often first class is less than $100 ea more than buying EC and checking bags! I’ve then opted for First Class. I’d advise them to compare FC which comes with free bags and priority boarding for their next flight.

  • nosocialism

    Nothing here should have surprised a frequent traveler and Delta has little fault – aside from some individual attitudes with agents and staff. Zone 1 is priority boarding to anyone outside Elite status. Only an idiot would think they would be able to board before First Class. Bins get full and some seats do not have under-seat storage. Check out Seat Guru. Check bag policy is very clear. My only laugh about this entire story is they paid that much money for some extra leg room and $150 to check bags that could be carry-on. Don’t get me wrong, E-Comfort is nice… for a price. Airlines change planes and that can impact seat assignments. Airlines also change schedules and that can impact departure and arrival times – – especially for tickets bought (well) in advance. You would have been notified had you provided the proper email information to Delta. They have my email and I’m always notified of changes.

  • heartprivacy

    They seem to forget that the people with credit cards and the first class passengers paid a lot of extra money for the “board first” perk too.

    And really? Complaining that families with small kids got to get on first? Come on.

  • heartprivacy

    There’s an easy way to deal with this. Take the offending bag out of the bin and tell the flight attendant “I’d like to gate check this bag please.”

  • Chasmosaur

    I just laughed really, really hard at that. I might even do that next time.

  • James E

    Why would you want to mediate this case? Just out of curiosity it seems like it would not even be worth the time or filing fees. First off the baggage fees would never be recovered. Not sure how one? bag cost that much. See deltas baggage fees. Also economy comfort clearly states that boarding before other economy passengers and its obvious that they probably have a policy of special assistance first class and premium members and if they do then you don’t have a complaint there either. This case would probably be in the USDC. If they paid all those fees its safe to say In forma pauperis would probably not be granted. I know its been a while since this case but it doesn’t seem to hold much ground.

  • luvstravel

    I too thought the case was trivial at first. After all, don’t they know how the game works? But then I realized Delta needs to stop preying on the newbies. Economy Comfort is BS and needs to be called out as such. It’s just everyday travel, with extra fees added for little value.

  • Hank

    It sounds like Delta did nothing wrong, and these travelers simply don’t like economy air travel (news flash: no one does). They sat in the Economy Comfort seats that they paid for, and I find it very hard to believe that a Delta attendant behaved totally unsympathetically when they asked for help finding space for their bags (especially due to the FAA rules on this issue, they would have rushed to help them comply). I fly on nearly 50 Delta flights per year, and the flight attendants are the best on all of the major US airlines. I’m sorry they didn’t like the Zone 1 boarding order, but Delta is upfront about how the boarding order works, and every passenger who boarded before them spent much more money with the airline than they did (business class and elite fliers who spend $5-20K/year on Delta tickets).

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