Denied boarding by DL, who's at fault?

Old Jan 17, 18, 9:14 am
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Denied boarding by DL, who's at fault?

Hi All

My parents were refused checkin last weekend by DL on an Expedia itinerary. Hoping for some advice.

Originally:
1 PNR, 2 pax:

BDL-ATL-MID-ATL-BDL
BDL-ATL was DL and ATL-MID was AM

A few months after booking, a schedule change on the return involved missing the DL ATL-BDL leg.
Parents called Expedia, who split the PNR into two and changed the ATL-BDL return to a later flight to make a legal connection in ATL. Not knowing the intricacies of etickets, my parents pulled up both PNRs on DL's site and everything looked intact and good.

Fast forward to last weekend:

Try to check-in online at DL.com - only 1 pax is successful. Other pax told to go to the airport (I was thinking SSSS, but nothing indicated there was a problem). At the airport, it turns out when Expedia split the PNR, they only updated one of the etickets, and left the other eticket was an illegal connection on the return. DL wouldn't allow one of my parents to checkin, nor could they touch the ticket since it was issued on AM stock. In the end, DL wasn't able to help and refused to transport both parents as far as BDL-ATL-MID and sort out of the rest once there.

I'm sympathetic here, as this could happen to anyone who doesn't understand that a PNR doesn't always equate to a reissued ticket. My questions:

1. Who's at fault? I think Expedia for not issuing the ticket correctly.
2. If the ticket wasn't issued correctly, why would DL indicate to head to the airport check-in rather than calling to fix the issue beforehand?
3. Could DL have done anything at the airport rather than telling my parents to pound sand?
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Old Jan 17, 18, 9:17 am
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Old Jan 17, 18, 9:42 am
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Places like Expedia get a commission from DL and the other airlines for selling the tickets. The commission is partly in exchange for taking care of schedule changes and things of that nature.

Could it have been worked out at the airport, possibly, but it's so hard to know especially when you have another carrier on the ticket.

Expedia is to blame at least 95%
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Old Jan 17, 18, 11:14 am
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Without knowing the details on the Expedia side, I would say that Expedia is to blame 100% here. Schedule changes happen. This should have been seamless to the passenger. The Expedia agent screwed up.

When a schedule change occurs and Expedia had to split the PNR, I always suggest waiting 48 hours and then calling the airline to make sure that the reservation is intact (ticketed, re-issued, etc.). When online check-in was not available the day before, I would have called the airline to better understand what was going on. Then, the OP's parents could have called Expedia then and got it sorted out.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 11:24 am
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Expedia is 100% to blame. Even within DL I have run into the murky world where there is a confirmed reservation but no reissued eticket and have been stuck at the gate waiting for the ticket reissue. The confirmed reservation is an intent to travel with space being held for the customer, the ticket is where payment has been made for THAT reservation. When a travel agency (like Expedia) issues a ticket for a DL trip, they control the ticket. If you want DL to make changes, they charge you $50 to take control of the ticket and then make the changes. So, Expedia is the one who needed to deal with it. If the ticket was issued on DL stock, DL could have taken over the reservation and issued the ticket but it was on AM stock so DL has nothing to do with the ticket itself. Think of DL as a subcontractor to AM to carry the passengers from BDL-ATL and back. Any issues the customer has needs to be resolved by who issued the ticket (AM in this case with Expedia as their agent), not someone who was hired to do part of the job.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 11:28 am
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Reason #4921 I book directly through the airline.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 3:13 pm
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If you need a reason, this is why you never ever ever book an airline ticket with anyone except the airline. I do understand there are some corporate required travel agents, but unless that is the case, only book with the airline.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 3:30 pm
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Though I agree with all the "it's Expedia's fault" posts, I would note that the ticket being on AM paper added to the problem. Had it been an 006 ticket, DL could have pulled it away from Expedia (perhaps for $50 charge to the pax) and solved the issue at checkin.

But they never had this option on the AM ticket.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 3:59 pm
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It is 100% Expedia's fault and problem. Every passenger needs a valid ticket and reservation for every segment. If a passenger lacks either or both, he is properly denied boarding.

Whether it is fixable is a matter of how much time one has. So, what could have been done differently:

1. When the PNR was split (each passenger to a PNR or each passenger on two tickets)???, wait and then check that the e-tickets have been properly reissued to cover every segment.
2. Whn one passenger could not OLCI, call DL. Could be all kinds of reasons, but this is one of them. Expedia could have fixed this if called beforehand.
3. Do not book through third-party websites.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 4:55 pm
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Thanks for the replies; I expected it to be Expedia's fault and I'll advise my parents to pursue Expedia for any compensation due.

I'm still a bit surprised that even though the first two segments were "OK TO FLY" on the bad eticket, DL couldn't transport the passenger on the good outbound. I personally fault DL for this, as there would have been ample time to get in touch with Expedia to figure out how to fix the rest. I may be misunderstanding the ability to change an eticket once part of it has been flown, though.

However, I'm a bit dismayed when I take my FT hat off and put myself in the shoes of an ordinary traveler; be it family or not. I've seen quite a few sad stories when etickets don't match the record, and frankly I don't think airlines do enough to draw attention to this.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
1. When the PNR was split (each passenger to a PNR or each passenger on two tickets)???, wait and then check that the e-tickets have been properly reissued to cover every segment.
We all know that, but I think from an ordinary pax perspective, once they receive the email showing the correct flights in the PNR, and the PNR looks good on the airline's site (DL in this case), not many expect the need to inspect the underlying e-ticket.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
2. Whn one passenger could not OLCI, call DL. Could be all kinds of reasons, but this is one of them. Expedia could have fixed this if called beforehand.
I agree and that's what I would have done. However, the message that display's when OLCI fails is not to call DL, but instead to head to the airport for check-in, which when that advice is followed, is in fact likely too late to save the day.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
3. Do not book through third-party websites.
I totally agree, but there's such a large subset of the population that flocks to these OTAs for whatever reason, and then when things go wrong, it's amazingly more complicated than it ever needed it be.
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Old Jan 17, 18, 5:03 pm
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It was Expedia's fault. I agree with the comments from the savvy travelers about checking ticket reissuance, but no average flyer is going to understand that. Heck, even me--who thinks of himself as a reasonably sophisticated traveler--got caught at a CX checkin desk when AA had neglected to reissue a ticket (and I thought I had checked everything).
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Old Jan 18, 18, 6:06 am
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It's not amazingly complicated. There are - and have been for decades- IATA rules on reticketing. Expedia didn't do it properly. Delta isn't responsible for travel without the passenger having a valid ticket. Reread posts 3 and 8 about Expedia's role and responsibilities. People who don't like the answer keep trying to spread responsibility. Everyone who flies a lot has a story of reticketing difficulty with an airline but the carrier's airport employees are then available as a resource to fix it.
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Old Jan 18, 18, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by pushmyredbutton View Post
Thanks for the replies; I expected it to be Expedia's fault and I'll advise my parents to pursue Expedia for any compensation due.

I'm still a bit surprised that even though the first two segments were "OK TO FLY" on the bad eticket, DL couldn't transport the passenger on the good outbound. I personally fault DL for this, as there would have been ample time to get in touch with Expedia to figure out how to fix the rest. I may be misunderstanding the ability to change an eticket once part of it has been flown, though.
DL isn't going to transport people on a ticket from another airline (partner or not) that isn't fully valid, just assuming that it will all get worked out...especially with Expedia tickets...they already hosed it up, if I'm DL I'm not taking the chance that they can't fix it and now they're in ATL or Mexico with no way to get home in a timely manner short of buying a OW ticket. I know that sounds dramatic, but these situations especially with two airlines and a 3rd party doing the ticketing it could happen.

If I'm DL, I'm just imagining some viral story going around how DL told them everything was fine but then they were STRANDED in Mexico and had to stay longer and buy new tickets to get home and now they have to eat cat food for a month because they can't afford anything right now.

I'm 100% NOT saying your parents are like that or that would even happen, but in today's viral video world the story can whip around the world and cement in the public consciousness before the truth can get out and it was really Expedia's fault...especially since blaming airlines is the one thing that EVERYONE can still agree on.
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Old Jan 18, 18, 8:06 am
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Originally Posted by pushmyredbutton View Post
Thanks for the replies; I expected it to be Expedia's fault and I'll advise my parents to pursue Expedia for any compensation due.

I'm still a bit surprised that even though the first two segments were "OK TO FLY" on the bad eticket, DL couldn't transport the passenger on the good outbound. I personally fault DL for this, as there would have been ample time to get in touch with Expedia to figure out how to fix the rest. I may be misunderstanding the ability to change an eticket once part of it has been flown, though.
Even without the sort of viral stories that Kop84 describes, it would have been riskier and more difficult for your parents to deal with this situation from Mexico. And you would be questioning why Delta let them fly on a bad ticket!

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Old Jan 18, 18, 11:03 am
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It is completely Expedia's fault.

DL refused to check them in without a valid ticket which has nothing to do with denied boarding.
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