I love Delta Airlines. I fly them exclusively (with the rare exception of an international flight where it is impossible). I am a Diamond Medallion member and the additional benefits have strengthened my loyalty to Delta. An NPS score would reveal that I am a promoter obviously. They usually are always very customer-centric.
COVID-19 caused significant issues for the airline industry as a whole. Personally, I had to cancel several flights that were already booked due to COVID-19, both work-related and personal. The process of canceling these flights seemed super simple and was easy to accomplish. As COVID-19 continued to not ‘go away’, I was calling Delta every few weeks to cancel another flight. It was always a great experience that did not take much time. The experience each time was in line with what I expected and what I love about Delta. The end result after each call was the same, they were applying a credit to my account that I could use over the next 2 years. Seemed pretty straightforward, seemed like they would function the same as cash. I did not realize that there were going to be strings attached to these credits.
Every year my wife and I, instead of buying each other presents, take a trip for our anniversary. It’s always been an international destination, but with the majority of countries we wanted to go to this year not allowing Americans to enter, we decided we would stay stateside. I found some flights and quickly realized I was not going to be able to complete check out online and that I needed to call. Not a problem, anytime I have ever called in, it has been an amazing experience.
My ‘Certificates and eCredits’ wallet on my Delta account is currently overwhelming to even look at, with 18 entries. I explained to the Agent very simply that I wanted to book a flight, had all the flight information, and just needed some help. The next 20-25 minutes were painful and ended up with me accomplishing nothing at all, followed by me simply going online myself and booking the flight without using a single certificate or eCredit.
What Delta failed to explain any of the times that they issued me credits for all of these flights, were that there were restrictions. Some were acceptable, some were not.
The first issue, I can only use MY credits for MY fare. While I don’t think this should be a rule, I understand it. After this was explained, I told them that was fine. I would use the credits on my account for my fare and then either pay or use points for the other ticket. Furthermore, I was told if I wanted to use any of my wife’s eCredits for her ticket, it needed to be booked as a separate order which would mean she would lose out on my Delta status as far as priority boarding, free baggage, upgrade eligibility, etc.
As the agent looked in my wallet, he explained to me that I could only use 1 of the Unused eTicket credits in my account. This was very irritating and makes no sense. The fare for the flight I wanted was significantly more than any of the single credits I had in my account. I did have credits totaling way over the fare in my account though. He said he could use 1 of my eCredits as well, but only 1. This left me with about half the balance of the original fare. Until the call, I did not realize (because it had never been explained) that the traditional eCredits were treated differently than Unused Ticket eCredits.
With my goal still of not having to actually come out of pocket for these flights, I suggested a lesser fare (Main Cabin) and I would use my regional upgrade certificates. I was then told that I could not use my regional upgrades for this ticket purchase. OK, they were making this difficult for sure.
With the upgrade certificates off the table, I went back to the higher fare and let the agent know I wanted to pay the remaining balance with points since I could not use multiple eCredits, I was told that was not an option either. It was literally going to be impossible to complete this transaction without coming out of pocket.
The end result was the phone call ending with nothing accomplished. I then went back online and completed the transaction with points and I guess I will save all my rule-ridden certificates for another day when I have more time and energy.
Look, I get it, Delta is a publicly-traded company that has to answer to shareholders and produce revenue in an unprecedented time (unrelated: I hate when people say an unprecedented time when referencing 2020/Covid).
What irritates me is simple. All of this could have been avoided if they would have set proper expectations when issuing the credits. Explain that there will be rules and limits and that they cannot be combined with points or other certificates. Tell us this initially when issuing them. Instead, each time I canceled a flight, I was on the phone for only a couple of minutes where they told me they were issued a credit on my account for a future purchase.
You see improper expectations set all the time, but it’s normally done by rookies or companies that are aware that they are being shady. Not Delta. Delta has always prided itself on doing the right thing, and I am honestly shocked.
Instead, because proper expectations were NOT set, I had a horrible experience with Delta. One that I am still upset about a day later.
Instead, I am second-guessing my loyalty to Delta.
Instead, I am writing this article.
I have always been dismissive of other airlines when people talk about them, was I being close-minded?
Always set proper expectations. Never take your customers for granted. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver folks.