They stepped up to the plate and overpaid for my hotel — now what?

sf airportDale Nielsen did everything he could to confirm his Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. He booked the trip through an online agency that offered a notification of flight schedule changes. He called his airline.

It wasn’t enough.

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Nielsen’s flight got changed, leaving him and his wife to spend the night at an airport hotel. Who should — and shouldn’t — cover his expenses?

Nielsen thought Delta should pay for the hotel. He explains why:

The air portion of the trip was booked on Delta “operated by Northwest”. Our itinerary, as far as I knew was a direct flight from Los Angeles with the return flight leaving Honolulu (at 10:50 pm) with a connecting flight from San Francisco back to Los Angeles.

Apparently some time in July, Northwest changed our flight to an earlier flight departing at 9:05 pm. Prior to us leaving I confirmed my flight using my Delta confirmation number B9FNY4 and it showed that I was still booked on the 10:50 pm flight.

In addition, on the day before our departure I received and email from Delta Messenger confirming the same 10:50 pm flight and telling me “And don’t worry about reconfirming your flights – you’re all set!”

But Nielsen had another layer of insurance: He booked the flights through Travelocity, which offers a service called Instant Flight Notification and promises, “We’re here 24/7.”

He tried to resolve the grievance through normal channels, by contacting Delta’s customer service department, but couldn’t.

I sent a fax to Delta explaining the situation but as you can see by their reply, they don’t seem interested in reimbursing me for my expenses that I believe where incurred totally because of their information provided to me. I know the whole thing only adds up to $121 that I’m asking for, but it seems to me that they made it pretty clear that I was confirmed on the 10:50 flight, even going as far as telling me “…don’t worry about reconfirming…” and I think Delta should step up to the plate here. What do you think?

I think I agree.

But I thought it might also be worth checking with Travelocity, to see if its fare notification system was working as it should. So I asked. Here’s what a representative told me:

We have determined the customer was not advised of the schedule change. The time change was enough to warrant some type of notification but it seems an agent only notated that the connection was still valid. So, a schedule change email was not sent and his itinerary was not update online. As the customer was not properly notified and we did not work this reservation correctly, we will reimburse his expenses.

I had also suggested that he appeal his case to someone higher up at Delta, which he did simultaneously with my appeal to Travelocity. The result?

Thank you for your most recent communication expressing your continued dissatisfaction with my response. On behalf of everyone at Delta Air Lines, I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.

I am genuinely sorry it was necessary for you to write me again. I was concerned that I missed the purpose of your original communication so I reviewed your comments with my Supervisor. After a lengthy discussion, we recognize that your experience deserves additional consideration.

I have carefully reviewed your information and I am happy to reimburse the expenses you incurred. Accordingly, you will receive our check within twenty business days. As a gesture of goodwill, I will be mailing a check in the amount of $122. Please allow 7 – 10 business days for the check to arrive.

Again, I am sorry your travel was disappointing. I hope in time you will provide us with another opportunity to restore your confidence.

Whoa. So Nielsen gets two checks for his hotel?

Not bad.

But should he keep both checks?

What do you think?

(Photo: Archangel/Flickr Creative Commons)