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VDB-ed but Full Gate Agent Offer Not Honored - What to do now?

VDB-ed but Full Gate Agent Offer Not Honored - What to do now?

Old Dec 8, 18, 9:50 am
  #1  
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VDB-ed but Full Gate Agent Offer Not Honored - What to do now?

I was flying ATL-AMS and the gate had multiple issues at the last minute: they were overbooked by 3, and on top of that they had 3 deadheading pilots come up to them and request Delta One positive space. Apparently an Assistant Station Manager in ATL placed a last minute DM into a D1 seat so now they needed 3 D1 seats and 3 main cabin seats.

They were at $1,200 for main cabin volunteers, and offered $2,000 to Delta One passengers to downgrade (they later gave everyone $2,000 realizing they could no bifurcate the offers in the system for downgrades (onto the same flight) versus rebookings onto another flights. The gate agents were acting like $2,000 was a lot for the downgrade, and I told the Delta One passengers to contact Customer Service for a fare difference refund after flying, as likely the fare difference is $2,000 or more too.

The 3 of us that were staying off the flight were initially told we would be rebooked onto the KLM flight departing 2 hours later. Then, before as final boarding was called, they realized they could only get 2 seats on the KLM flight. They said someone would likely have to fly the next day.

I agreed to be that person if they either upped my voucher, or placed me in Delta One (one of the DL flights was almost 1/2 empty in D1, so I figured this would be easy) the next day. The gate agent checked with a Red Coat, then with an Operations Service Manager (above the Red Coat), who were at the gate to "handle" the Delta One downgrades for this flight, and who documented the record that it was approved for me to fly Delta One on the DL portion the next day, in exchange for waiting 24 hours for the next flight, plus the voucher that others who were rebooked that night received.

The Red Coat told me I could go to the SkyClub while she handled the rebooking and voucher issuance. Did so, and came back to the Red Coat saying that Revenue Management (specifically the Day of Departure Desk) called them after noticing the Delta One flight in my new record and removed it. They told the Red Coat not to reissue in Delta One. The Red Coat tried to get in touch with the Operations Service Manager who approved it, but they were gone for the evening.

The Red Coat was completely unhelpful at that point - saying gems like "I can't lose my job over this" and "You can contact Customer Service after your complete your travels to discuss further." I told her that what was agreed to upon a VDB and documented in the record can't be changed willy nilly - that the only reason DOT allows them to overbook is because such VDB and IDB offers/settlements must be followed.

The other agents were unhappy with the Red Coat's behavior, and complimented me for being so nice and patient in a difficult circumstance. They gave me the name and email address of the Concourse Manager and the Station Manager for ATL to try and resolve.

Advice? What would you all do? I would like to receive what I was promised/documented for my VDB. I have taken a few domestic and one international VDB before (including an international VDB with Delta One on the next flight as part of the offer) and have never had Delta change things up like this before after the original flight departed, when there is no leverage.

(
One of the "Need Help?" agents later commented that I should have insisted on a reissue prior to the door closing - to which I nicely told her, "M'aam the gate was SO hectic due to the multiple downgrades being needed after boarding started plus overbooking, that would have been near impossible simply because no agent had the capacity to make a reissue call with everything else that was happening")

Thank you FT community for your advice and thoughts, as always
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Old Dec 8, 18, 10:50 am
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Ugh. This is awful--there is no excuse for the Red Coat taking back any part of an offer they confirmed with you. I would start with the DL customer care number, 404-773-0305. They have special agents for situations where the customer has been wronged like this. Unfortunately, I don't know if they're open on weekends. If that doesn't work, you can try calling DL and asking for a supervisor. They should see the notes in your record and you might get the D1 seat that way.

I don't know if either of those will work--hopefully others will have ideas too. Please report back if you can. Good luck.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 10:57 am
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Have you tried calling the DM line and escalating that way? Might be helpful. Sorry this happened to you, that's awful.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 11:17 am
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It seems like itís getting to the point where we need to start wearing body cams when dealing with DL employees.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by TheHorta View Post
It seems like itís getting to the point where we need to start wearing body cams when dealing with DL employees.
Or just record it with your phone...at least use voice recorder.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 11:44 am
  #6  
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AFAIK the 404 customer service number is closed on weekends, but OP should certainly try and also try to escalate through the DM line. I think the OP should make very clear that this will be reported to DOT too.

However, an easy "temporary" solution would be to check if there's upgrade availability on the new flight and, if so, use either a GUC (OP is DM) or miles to confirm the upgrade now. You can later insist to DL that the upgrade instrument be returned to you.

You could also pay to upgrade by putting the difference on a credit card and then fighting this out later, but that would seem more risky to me.

Nevertheless, I would certainly document all relevant fare differences and also look carefully at standby and upgrade lists for the new flight.

I think a customer service gesture beyond the terms of the VDB is warranted. OP doesn't mention hotel costs, so I assume that he/she did not accept this expense in exchange for the D1 upgrade.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 11:47 am
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With calling the Diamond line, including speaking with a supervisor, and HUCA; I'm certain you can get resolution, assuming that there is a little time, are seats still available, there is some kind of record indicating that you were Delta One to begin with (should be easy), and that you were VDB. BTW, did you already collect the VDB money?
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:03 pm
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Originally Posted by dEagleS View Post
With calling the Diamond line, including speaking with a supervisor, and HUCA; I'm certain you can get resolution, assuming that there is a little time, are seats still available, there is some kind of record indicating that you were Delta One to begin with (should be easy), and that you were VDB. BTW, did you already collect the VDB money?
I think s/he was in coach and was trying to get the D1 as part of taking a flight the next day. And....what was the Fare basis for the flight segment? Hopefully not Basic Economy (E). That "could" be why Revenue Management had a say in the non D1 rebooking.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:10 pm
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Thanks everyone for the input. I have my screenshots from the app with the timestamp of just before flight departure showing them having me in Delta One at the gate and showing that to me as the new itinerary. It was after having a drink at the SkyClub, I refreshed the app to see if the ticket had been reissued, and saw I was not even in C+ but rather Main Cabin (Comfort Plus was sold out, which was another reason the GA went to D1 for the next day).

I asked if it was necessary to have a document where they record the full terms of the VDB and agree to it prior to door closure, so that we have the option of reboarding if the terms aren't completely possible including reticketing by Delta. They did not have much reply.

I had suggested to the GAs to downgrade Delta Ones to Main and VDB more people to not cause a mess with pilots needing Delta One from confirmed passengers. They wanted to give drink vouchers to someone and I had 2 extras I volunteered. And in the same spirit of "finding a solution" I found out that mileage upgrades were available on the new flight, and was rebooked in Y class by the gate for the new flight. So I suggested, can you all process a mileage upgrade, then redeposit the miles needed for it from the airport so it honors the original deal.

They called the same (not good) Red Coat, who said the MAX she could offer was 7,000 miles (to offset what supposedly cost 35,000 miles for Y --> D1). She claimed they "did their best to get you Delta One but nobody is above Revenue Management." Just bad.

Then Ticketing said I wasn't even on a "real" Y fare so I couldn't even do a mileage upgrade. They then changed me back to my original fare class. LOLZ. After 3+ hours at the airport at this, I asked for hotel and meal vouchers, which they begrudgingly handed over (as I was mid-trip, not starting in ATL).

I tried calling the DM Desk en route to hotel, late at night. The agent put my back in Delta One (I Class) [also have a screenshot of this, in addition to the previous screenshot of J class and a seat assignment just prior to the door closing at the gate], but upon calling a DFW Supervisor, the Supervisor came on to speak to me and claimed I had a basic economy ticket (false - it was always a main cabin ticket) and there was no way they were going to put me in Delta One over the phone - that if the airport promised it, the airport needs to do it. She moved me back to Main Cabin. I asked her to please transfer me to the phone survey, and instead she put me on hold for over 30 minutes, until I finally hung up.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:15 pm
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Originally Posted by dEagleS View Post
BTW, did you already collect the VDB money?
Yes, I did. 90 minutes after flight departure, they did give us the vouchers and I received the email.

Originally Posted by OHDL1 View Post
I think s/he was in coach and was trying to get the D1 as part of taking a flight the next day. And....what was the Fare basis for the flight segment? Hopefully not Basic Economy (E). That "could" be why Revenue Management had a say in the non D1 rebooking.
I was in Main Cabin (X). When I was buying the ticket online, I selected Basic, but then picked "upgrade to main cabin for $65 each way" on the final page. After doing this and receiving confirmation, two segments still showed in Basic Economy.

Within the Risk Free period, I called Reservations and asked them to make sure the two segments were in Main Cabin. They charged a small fare difference, no change fee, and documented that it was all in Main Cabin. My First Class upgrades cleared on the domestic segments, and my Comfort + upgrades had cleared on the international flights - and the ticket in all segments reissued in X/RU/SU classes as applicable.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:16 pm
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:28 pm
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Was the $65 "upgrade" to main cabin the fare difference or was it a cheap MCM (Main Cabin Monetization) offer? Did your receipt (after calling within 24 hours, etc.) reflect a true X fare without designators?

If DL is adamant about no upgrades in such situations, they need to train redcoats and GAs to always look at the underlying fares before making any VDB offers that could possibly contradict the policy. OTOH, the person handling the VDBs probably saw the OP's C+ boarding pass and elite status, so that they would have assumed that it was an ordinary coach (main cabin) fare with a C+ "upgrade."

After all of this drama, what hotel did DL pay for at ATL? Were the hotel and meal vouchers part of the VDB deal? It sounds like the OP begged for these later at some DL counter.

I'd be extremely annoyed about the time this whole hassle consumed.

To me, it's also a mystery that revenue management even saw the OP's rebooking. In fact, this would have been Friday evening (or maybe late afternoon yesterday during the holiday season), so I'm surprised that they were even working at that time. I wouldn't have guessed that DL would have some IT capacity to flag VDB rebookings to target those involving negotiated upgrades as part of the deal.

Is there any chance that another GA working the flight unilaterally decided that the OP's D1 deal was too generous and did something to "fix" it? Or could the redcoat and/or station manager have had some second thoughts and decided to renege?
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by OHDL1 View Post
I think s/he was in coach and was trying to get the D1 as part of taking a flight the next day. And....what was the Fare basis for the flight segment? Hopefully not Basic Economy (E). That "could" be why Revenue Management had a say in the non D1 rebooking.
Ah, I had misunderstood the OP. There was a lot of discussion about being oversold in Delta One (due to deadheading pilots), and I was confused whether the OP was actually in Delta One to start with, or not. Because, s/he volunteering the coach seat, wouldn't have solved the Delta One problem.

Originally Posted by btonkid12345 View Post
Yes, I did. 90 minutes after flight departure, they did give us the vouchers and I received the email.



I was in Main Cabin (X). When I was buying the ticket online, I selected Basic, but then picked "upgrade to main cabin for $65 each way" on the final page. After doing this and receiving confirmation, two segments still showed in Basic Economy.

Within the Risk Free period, I called Reservations and asked them to make sure the two segments were in Main Cabin. They charged a small fare difference, no change fee, and documented that it was all in Main Cabin. My First Class upgrades cleared on the domestic segments, and my Comfort + upgrades had cleared on the international flights - and the ticket in all segments reissued in X/RU/SU classes as applicable.
Well, if you were originally in coach, but have screenshots of being placed in Delta One that will certainly help. But, now that it's after the fact, it turns into a he said she said type of situation. I would've certainly escalated including Diamond line w/supervisor while standing with the Red Coat, to not let them off so easy. Good luck; all I can suggest is HUCA until you get someone sympathetic to your plight. Usually, if you remain calm, collected, but persistent, you will find someone.

I have volunteered while in Delta One to go from a connecting to a non-stop route (after having already boarded; my seat was needed for deadheading pilot who was going to replace a sick crewmember at an outstation), and was given a gift certificate in addition to confirmed Delta One (last seat) on the non-stop leaving in a couple hours. However, when I made the agreement, and get off the plane, I was completely at the mercy of the red coat, if they had suddenly decided to change their mind.

I really wish GA would be able to print off a simple "terms of VDB offer" when you accept, even something as simple as a few bullet points listing the terms, so that you have a fundamental record of what was agreed.
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Was the $65 "upgrade" to main cabin the fare difference or was it a cheap MCM (Main Cabin Monetization) offer? Did your receipt (after calling within 24 hours, etc.) reflect a true X fare without designators?

If DL is adamant about no upgrades in such situations, they need to train redcoats and GAs to always look at the underlying fares before making any VDB offers that could possibly contradict the policy. OTOH, the person handling the VDBs probably saw the OP's C+ boarding pass and elite status, so that they would have assumed that it was an ordinary coach (main cabin) fare with a C+ "upgrade."
I'm pretty sure fare basis (e.g. E) no longer matter in terms if IRROPS, and VDB. This is not a true "upgrade"; this is mutually agreed compensation to avoid Delta having to IDB other passengers. Delta, at the end of the day, can put any passenger in any Delta One seat, as they choose. Of course they'd prefer not to, but they also would rather do that then IDB. Regardless, they can't change an agreement unilaterally after the fact.

Does anyone have specific knowledge or experience indicating otherwise?
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Old Dec 8, 18, 12:43 pm
  #15  
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My understanding is that the flight was initially oversold by three in coach and then needed the three D1 seats for the deadheading pilots. The three VDBs for coach had already been handled and were rebooked onto the KLM flight. Then when the redcoat went to rebook the three downgraded VDBs onto the KLM flight in coach, it was discovered that only two more seats were available. At that point, OP offered to take the DL flight the following day in D1 for the same price.

However, I'm confused about whether the OP initially volunteered to take the KLM flight in coach for $1300 or only volunteered for the $2000 deal that all of the VDBs eventually got. I'm also confused about whether the three D1 passengers who volunteered their D1 seats for $2000 were placed on tghe original flight in coach or put onto the KLM flight in coach.
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