Did Delta go the extra mile for me?

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By Christopher Elliott

As an Amex-branded Platinum-level frequent flier for the better part of the last decade, Carolyn Stover Harvey counts herself among Delta Air Lines’ best customers. The kind of customer Delta would go the extra mile for.

You’d think.

But Harvey wonders if Delta really did go the extra mile for someone with as many miles as she has. She wants me to tell her – and you to tell her – and she promises to abide by our decision.

Oh, the pressure! OK, here it goes.

Harvey flew from Atlanta, where she is based, to Fresno, Calif., via Salt Lake City.

Her outbound flights encountered numerous problems. A mechanical delay made her miss her connection in Salt Lake City, she arrived in Fresno six hours later than planned, and her luggage arrived 24 hours later. (Related: Delta threatened to call police and remove me from a flight. Am I owed anything?)

When she tried to check in for her return flight, she found her itinerary had “vanished.”

“Delta had no record of my trip home,” she explains. “Apparently it disappeared when my re-booking was done. I was ultimately returned to Atlanta via Salt Lake City, but not without problems.”

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Flying first class, treated last

As if that wasn’t enough, she was seated in the least desirable seat on her flight back to Atlanta: in the last row of economy class near the galley. Of course, her in-flight entertainment system didn’t work. (Here’s our guide to booking an airline ticket.)

Harvey wrote a letter to Delta’s chief executive, complaining about the problems she encountered on her California trip and reminding him of her elite status. She asked for a full refund of the clothing and toiletries she bought during her baggage delay, plus a double-refund of the Skymiles I paid for her ticket, or 65,000 miles.

It looked as if the person who reviewed my complaint did not understand the problems at all. I received a full refund of what I spent on my emergency supplies, but only a 5,000 Skymiles refund. I just find the entire treatment of my very valid complaint insufficient.

Harvey thinks she understands why Delta didn’t compensate her more. She paid for her flight using miles, which means it was a nonrevenue tickets. But did Delta do enough for this super-elite customer? Did it follow its own rules for compensating her — or did it brush her off?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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