Ethan Jones threw himself on the mercy of the court and lost.
The court in his case was the Delta Air Lines Court of Appeals (a supervisor in its customer service department), and his case involved plenty of drama, heartbreak and financial loss. But it wasn’t enough.
I’m bringing you all the painful details today because you need to know this: Airlines don’t care about your personal tragedies. They only care about one thing: their bottom line.
Don’t believe me? Here’s Jones’ story.
“I bought and paid for out of my checking account airline tickets from Delta.com for myself, my wife, and my daughter and her fiancé, Juan,” he says. “In the past, I always bought my family tickets for travel, but this time my daughter’s fiance was traveling with us.”
Juan, the fiancé, didn’t have the $414 to cover the tickets (that should have been the first warning) and agreed to repay Jones “at a later date” (yet another warning).
“Well, unfortunately my daughter has broken up with her fiance before he paid me his money,” he says.
Let me interrupt: The couple broke up, and now Juan refuses to repay Dad? I can’t say I’m surprised, but honestly, the $414 is a small price to pay for knowing this is the wrong man for your daughter. And his daughter should be thankful.
Juan has no honor.
“So I called Delta hoping to get a refund back to my debit card even though I knew the tickets were nonrefundable,” he says. “At the very least, a credit in my name since I was the one who purchased them through my checking account. I was hoping a supervisor would feel sorry for me.”
“After two separate phone calls to Delta, they told me, ‘No refund’ — and only Juan could get a credit in his name. So, this guy, Juan, could get a credit in his name even though he did not pay one thin dime of the money for his ticket?” he asks.
Jones is upset, and rightfully so.
“My wife and I saved for over a year for this vacation and I just lost $414 just trying to be nice to Juan because he didn’t have the money at the time. Nice people always lose,” he says.
I’d like to think not, but on this particular case, the bad guys — or perhaps I should just say, the bad guy — won.
Airline tickets are not transferable. That’s not just a Delta rule; it’s pretty universal. Allowing transfers would create a secondary market for airline tickets, cutting into the airline industry’s profits. Fair? Not to passengers, but in a take-it-or-leave it, oligopolistic airline industry, what choice do we have?
Airline tickets are also often nonrefundable. If Jones was saving his pennies, he was highly unlikely to purchase a fully refundable fare, which would have cost two or three times as much as a non-refundable ticket.
Our advocates reviewed Jones’ case and declined to get involved. With two strikes against him, we didn’t feel we stood a chance of securing a refund. Even if we did, our team felt we could persuade Delta to bend two rules after a breakup.
Still, it strikes me as patently unfair that Jones lost $414. But the tradeoff is that his daughter gained her freedom and can move on with her life. That’s gotta be worth something, isn’t it?