Sorry, this is a long post and it's a bit of a rant at KLM acting on behalf of delta.
Let me first provide some context. I had to change a booking because of personal circumstances. To do this I called the number for DL in the Netherlands (where I was when the changes needed to be made) and spoke to the KLM agents.
A bit of back and forth about my options and the flights but it worked out that the change fees would be waived and I'd have to pay the difference in fare which would be "in the neighbourhood of €85.00." That agent couldn't calculate a final price and they needed me to send supporting documentation so that they could waive the change fee so I was asked to call them back after 24 hours.
I called back today to get the new price quote and finalize the changes. The agent whom I spoke to said that the ticketing desk was quoting over €1,000 to make the changes. My jaw hit the floor. The cost of a new ticket in the same fare classes (Q & M) for the very same flights is still coming in at under $700. Even if I were to get no money back for my cancelled itinerary and book a separate ticket for the new flights, I'd still have paid less than paying what they were asking to make the change.
Here I should point out that the changes had already been made in my reservation but hadn't been ticketed yet.
When I questioned the agent about the astounding difference in fare (without raising my voice but whilst still expressing my shock) the agent bluntly said that there was nothing he could do and suggested I consider my options and call back.
Which I did... but not to "Delta" in the Netherlands
One of the first rules of flyertalk I've applied many times is that if you don't get the answer you feel you should be getting right away; thank the agent, call back and speak to someone else. I also should have known not to call the number in the Netherlands because it really gets you put through to KLM and Air France who are acting as agents on behalf of Delta.
Anyway, I called the US number and after explaining the situation to the agent I was transferred to a department that was able to make the exceptions and the changes.
I was on the phone for about 20 minutes and in this time the agent:
- took the details to waive the change fees over the phone (no need to fax anything)
- looked for better flight options than the ones in the reservation (sadly not available)
- manually recalculated the fare ($1.25 less than original paid ticket)
- Refunded the fees paid for Economy Comfort seating (complimentary for new M-fare booking)
- Issued a voucher for a refund of the fare difference
- Re-issued the ticket
In the end, speaking to Delta directly has gotten me a much better result than I was hoping (refund) for and in a lot less time than it took KLM.
Call me cynical, but DL aren't doing themselves any favours by employing KLM as their agents for the Netherlands. It worked out for me in the end, but only because I knew what to expect and spoke directly to the right people in the end. I can imagine that there are many customers who in my situation would end up paying more than necessary and be left with a feeling of being ripped off after being quoted such exorbitant fare differences.
Delta shouldn't get off completely scot-free as they are the ones allowing KLM to run with their reputation but thankfully the last agents I've spoken to have restored my trust in the airline and were really able to help me out.