Shady Shady Delta

Old Feb 28, 16, 11:30 am
  #1  
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Shady Shady Delta

Little long, so bear with me. I have status w/United, so I only fly Delta when I'm traveling together with my ATL-based boss. We were flying from ATL to LGA last week during the bad weather. Flight ended up being diverted to CVG and we had to spend the night there. No problem, we have a lot of business in Cincinnati so we know the area pretty well. Got a hotel on our dime (or more accurately our company's dime), but got a $100 Delta flight coupon for our trouble.

This trip put me over the 50k mile mark, so I decided to burn the miles and the travel voucher I opened two Delta windows on my browser to book some flights-one using the award miles for my wife and son, and one to purchase the ticket and use the $100 flight coupon for me (flight coupon is in my name, and of course non-transferable). Found a nice empty flight that cost 25k round trip per ticket or about $330 to purchase it, which would be around $230 with my flight coupon.

Here's where the shadiness begins: I go through all the steps on each window (entered in passenger info, selected seats, etc), click submit payment and I get error messages for BOTH windows. The price I wanted is no longer available-for both bookings. The price for the award booking is now 30k miles round trip, and the price for the one in cash has gone up by $20, which means both reservations I wanted to do is no longer available. I wish I saved a screen shot of it.

I know Delta has a rep of trying to prevent fliers from using their award tickets, but I've never heard of an airline changing the price mid-booking. Something I was doing (seat selection maybe?) must've triggered a circuit breaker in Delta's server where they shutdown the reservation. I'm going back to the drawing board to get a different award flight, but I shook my head in frustration and awe at Delta's commitment to keeping customers' miles in the bank and not using them.

Anyone else have anything like this happen to them?
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Old Feb 28, 16, 11:42 am
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Yes, once one ticket is purchased with miles they figure another one is now worth more (i.e. Less inventory). Then the paid ticket costs more because less inventory....you should see in search how many tickets available at this price. Did you call to see if they can do it on the phone? If they can, don't pay a fee for it since it wasn't possible to complete online...good luck!
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Old Feb 28, 16, 11:42 am
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Or...there may have only been one fare available in that booking class, so when you wanted to buy it triggered the fares to go up?
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Old Feb 28, 16, 11:58 am
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Happens all the time, especially with multi-pax bookings. Most likely only had one ticket left in the lower fare bucket. And if you're booking a combination of paid and award travel I'd do the award travel first as the paid tickets reduce inventory and that can drive up the "price" of the award travel although the reverse of that can happen too... it's a catch-22 to say the least. Expert Flyer used to be great for "stuff" like this but DL pulled the plug on that a few years back.
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Old Feb 28, 16, 1:30 pm
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LBJ
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Originally Posted by DLGrkItalNY View Post
Or...there may have only been one fare available in that booking class, so when you wanted to buy it triggered the fares to go up?
Yep. And there are these basic computer science concepts called "locks" to prevent two people from booking two tickets in the same bucket when there is only one left. Nothing "shady" at all about it. And, no, the "two broswer trick" is not going to defeat it.
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Old Feb 28, 16, 2:52 pm
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Yep. And there are these basic computer science concepts called "locks" to prevent two people from booking two tickets in the same bucket when there is only one left. Nothing "shady" at all about it. And, no, the "two browser trick" is not going to defeat it.
^ correct
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Old Feb 28, 16, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Yep. And there are these basic computer science concepts called "locks" to prevent two people from booking two tickets in the same bucket when there is only one left. Nothing "shady" at all about it. And, no, the "two broswer trick" is not going to defeat it.
This. I guess saying DL's IT did something smart isn't as fun as: "Shady Shady Delta".

I've actually gotten warnings from my browser before when trying to book in two different windows at the same time.
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Old Feb 28, 16, 3:07 pm
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Not remotely shady. You tried to book two tickets into the same fare bucket at the same time and DL's system defeated that.

Just book sequentially and you would have got to the same place. If you don't like the pricing by the time you get to the 2nd or 3rd ticket, you are well within the fee-free cancellation period, so you can still cancel.
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Old Feb 28, 16, 5:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Not remotely shady. You tried to book two tickets into the same fare bucket at the same time and DL's system defeated that.

Just book sequentially and you would have got to the same place. If you don't like the pricing by the time you get to the 2nd or 3rd ticket, you are well within the fee-free cancellation period, so you can still cancel.
I'm going to vote "moderately shady". DL advertises a flight with availability at 25k or $330. It's completely unintuitive to the average person that purchasing with miles would cause the cash price to change, or vice versa, and in fact the implementation is explicitly designed to make it difficult if not impossible to do. eg: A customer friendly implementation would allow you to book both tickets at once.

Sure, you're still within the fee free cancellation period (restrictions apply, especially if re-using an existing ticket), but it's still effectively false advertising.

For another example, if I go to a store and want to buy two identical shirts, one using cash and the other using a gift card, the price of the shirts doesn't change while I'm switching methods of payment simply because "inventory decreased". A price was advertised, I agreed to the price, and I went to pay. Only in the airline industry do we get BS disclaimers like "The advertised price is not an offer and is subject to change" (the fine print on every Delta purchase). Barely legal perhaps, but completely unethical.
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Old Feb 28, 16, 10:01 pm
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Originally Posted by bennos View Post
I'm going to vote "moderately shady". DL advertises a flight with availability at 25k or $330. It's completely unintuitive to the average person that purchasing with miles would cause the cash price to change, or vice versa, and in fact the implementation is explicitly designed to make it difficult if not impossible to do. eg: A customer friendly implementation would allow you to book both tickets at once.

Sure, you're still within the fee free cancellation period (restrictions apply, especially if re-using an existing ticket), but it's still effectively false advertising.

For another example, if I go to a store and want to buy two identical shirts, one using cash and the other using a gift card, the price of the shirts doesn't change while I'm switching methods of payment simply because "inventory decreased". A price was advertised, I agreed to the price, and I went to pay. Only in the airline industry do we get BS disclaimers like "The advertised price is not an offer and is subject to change" (the fine print on every Delta purchase). Barely legal perhaps, but completely unethical.
A better (still not exact) analogy would be two different customers are in a restaurant looking at a menu. Menu states chicken burger costs 6.00 and beef burger costs 7.00. Both customers would like a chicken burger but it so happens the restaurant is down to 1 chicken burger for the day. Now, restaurant can say the first who put in the order gets the last chicken burger and the other customer is offered to a beef burger at a higher price. Or the restaurant could see them as competing orders and both are asked to reconsider. If there is only 1 chicken burger left, they cannot sell 2 even if both customers saw it at the same time and they both want that burger.
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Old Feb 29, 16, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by bennos View Post
I'm going to vote "moderately shady". DL advertises a flight with availability at 25k or $330. It's completely unintuitive to the average person that purchasing with miles would cause the cash price to change, or vice versa, and in fact the implementation is explicitly designed to make it difficult if not impossible to do. eg: A customer friendly implementation would allow you to book both tickets at once.
You could book both at the same time (at the higher price). However, the OP was using two different FOPs (miles, voucher+cash) so that isn't an option on any airline that I'm aware of.
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Old Feb 29, 16, 4:29 pm
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Originally Posted by bennos View Post
I'm going to vote "moderately shady". DL advertises a flight with availability at 25k or $330. It's completely unintuitive to the average person that purchasing with miles would cause the cash price to change, or vice versa, and in fact the implementation is explicitly designed to make it difficult if not impossible to do. eg: A customer friendly implementation would allow you to book both tickets at once.

Sure, you're still within the fee free cancellation period (restrictions apply, especially if re-using an existing ticket), but it's still effectively false advertising.

For another example, if I go to a store and want to buy two identical shirts, one using cash and the other using a gift card, the price of the shirts doesn't change while I'm switching methods of payment simply because "inventory decreased". A price was advertised, I agreed to the price, and I went to pay. Only in the airline industry do we get BS disclaimers like "The advertised price is not an offer and is subject to change" (the fine print on every Delta purchase). Barely legal perhaps, but completely unethical.
Doesn't this happen in any industry where price is normally sensitive to inventory?

Shirt price at one small store isnt sensitive to marginal inventory.
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Old Feb 29, 16, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Widgets View Post
Doesn't this happen in any industry where price is normally sensitive to inventory?

Shirt price at one small store isnt sensitive to marginal inventory.
Plus the seat has a 100% expiration that after the door closes it either has a paid passenger in it or it makes $0. Airlines can't run a clearance sale on last weeks flights if they miscalculated demand!

The shirt can sit on the rack indefinitely and if the store orders too many they can put the shirts on clearance and usually at least recoup some of the cost of the shirt.
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Old Feb 29, 16, 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by bennos View Post
I'm going to vote "moderately shady". DL advertises a flight with availability at 25k or $330....
Remember, we're talking about the same airline which eliminated award chart altogether. 25k, whats that?

Very shady my vote.

Jiburi
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Old Feb 29, 16, 9:10 pm
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Not shady at all - inventory is limited and not guaranteed.

I would bet that the inventory looked something like this Y7 Q7 M7 L7 T1 as an example. As soon as OP hit book the booking engine went out to grab the one seat left in T class. The system, as noted, will not give it to two people who are asking as there is only ONE seat in that bucket.

The same thing would happen if you tried to book one seat and saw the fare based on T class and then went to book two seats. You cannot combine inventory from different classes on the same flight segment for two passengers. As such, in this case, Delta (and all airlines) would display the next higher fare where two seats are avail to sell, L.

Nothing shady. They had one seat, OP wanted two seats.
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