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Lost D1 Seats: What should we have done better?

Lost D1 Seats: What should we have done better?

Old Sep 3, 19, 11:22 am
  #1  
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Lost D1 Seats: What should we have done better?

Hi folks, I'm new here so forgive me if I'm asking stupid questions.

Yesterday my girlfriend (FO) and I (DM) were on a flight from AMS - JFK - SFO, all for D1. I booked in cash and redeemed my miles for her. Our tickets have a 2:30 layover in JFK so we thought it should be fine. But unfortunately we were stuck in the crowds to pass the border and it had been only 20 minutes before our flight departs, and we've yet to check in the luggage for the connection flight.

Then when we walked to check in our luggage, the agent blindly put us on the main cabin of the next flight without giving us the options, and was pretty reluctant to look into other flights so I did not push her further. I was able to get an aisle C+ seat and my girlfriend got a middle seat in Y, as there had been no D1 seats available in that flight. We ended up squeezing in the small seats home albeit paying for D1 for that segment.

I understood the situation that the flight was full and we should have booked the connection flight with longer layover time. But I'm wondering if there's anything I could do better yesterday in such situation. I was thinking of calling the DM help desk the moment we saw the crowd to change our schedule but not ended up doing so. One thing that's iffy in my case is that my girlfriend's ticket did not come with the same reservation number thus I was afraid that she could not be counted as a companion.

May I know if anyone was in similar situation and what's the best strategy to secure the D1 seat if possible? Any thoughts, ideas and comments are highly appreciated.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:27 am
  #2  
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Ask to be placed in D1 or to be put on another flight. I'm not sure what you're expecting to hear here. All you had to do was point out you were on D1 tickets.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:33 am
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Thanks for the post. The main point of this thread is for me to figure out the way of avoiding to be downgraded from D1 to MC if we've missed a connection.

Yesterday I did mentioned that we were on D1, but we just got the reply that there had been no business seats on that flight and the agent was not willing to look into other flights. So I was wondering if the agent was doing the right thing or I should have called DM desk instead, or it is Delta's policy that D1 seats were not guaranteed under such situation.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by COYG View Post
Thanks for the post. The main point of this thread is for me to figure out the way of avoiding to be downgraded from D1 to MC if we've missed a connection.

Yesterday I did mentioned that we were on D1, but we just got the reply that there had been no business seats on that flight and the agent was not willing to look into other flights. So I was wondering if the agent was doing the right thing or I should have called DM desk instead, or it is Delta's policy that D1 seats were not guaranteed under such situation.
When there are no more D1 seats for the upcoming flight, it's your choice to let them know you want to be on the follow-on flight. It'll come down to how long you'll want to wait to be in D1 versus taking the next available flight in Y. All you need to say is that you have D1 seats are are fine with waiting for a later flight.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by COYG View Post
So I was wondering if the agent was doing the right thing or I should have called DM desk instead, or it is Delta's policy that D1 seats were not guaranteed under such situation.
The agent was doing the right thing if you insisted on being on that specific flight and there were no D1 seats available.

If not, you could literally find ANY other Delta One routing and have them rebook you - you could still do this even after the first agent "downgraded" you, as you can simply not accept that. You don't have to deal with an incompetent/lazy agent (one who just wants to change you to another same nonstop flight in SNAP without actually researching other options, which I would expect for a DIAMOND in PAID D1). YOU'RE DIAMOND! Ask for a Red Coat! They are infinitely better than other agents if you aren't getting anywhere with a purple (female) or grey (male) agent.

Here are all the Delta One options from JFK to SFO:

JFK-SFO (later flight)
JFK-LAX-SFO
JFK-SEA-SFO
JFK-DCA-LAX-SFO
JFK-BOS-LAX-SFO
JFK-LAS-XXX-SFO
JFK-SAN-LAX-SFO

There are probably other "First Class" options that are not marketed as D1 but have lie-flats, such as:
JFK-ATL-LAX-SFO (ATL-LAX is lie flat at least once a day)
JFK-MCO-SLC-SFO (MCO-SLC is lie flat once a day)
etc.

Here's another thing - get MOBILE PASSPORT. This will get you through CBP lines 50x faster than the regular lines. And it's free, unlike Global Entry.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:49 am
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Originally Posted by cre95 View Post
When there are no more D1 seats for the upcoming flight, it's your choice to let them know you want to be on the follow-on flight. It'll come down to how long you'll want to wait to be in D1 versus taking the next available flight in Y. All you need to say is that you have D1 seats are are fine with waiting for a later flight.
Plus there's lots of no shows for these flights because of the generous SDC policy.

If every other flight was completely sold out, you would bet I would get to the gate, ask for a Red Coat, let them know I'm Diamond on a paid D1 ticket, and if anyone no shows or doesn't check in, to make sure the Red Coat clears me into that seat instead of a complimentary upgrade!
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Old Sep 3, 19, 11:54 am
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Originally Posted by btonkid12345 View Post
Plus there's lots of no shows for these flights because of the generous SDC policy.

If every other flight was completely sold out, you would bet I would get to the gate, ask for a Red Coat, let them know I'm Diamond on a paid D1 ticket, and if anyone no shows or doesn't check in, to make sure the Red Coat clears me into that seat instead of a complimentary upgrade!
The complexity, of course, is that the OP was traveling with the girlfriend which would need two seats or splitting across different flights.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:08 pm
  #8  
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The simple answer to "what could be done better" is to politely but firmly say that you will wait for the next flight with D1 availability. If that does not yield results, ask for a supervisor (Red Coat in DL parlance). Anyone pulling up your record will be able to see that you are ticketed in D1 and can search pretty quickly for other D1 availability, whether nonstop or a connection. It is a matter of simply making it clear that you are not moving.

It is possible, although unlikely, that what is available in D1 results in a sufficiently long wait that it is not worth it to you. If that is the case, take what you can, but make certain that you are waitlisted for D1. As a paid passenger, you are displaced and should come ahead of all upgrades.

As to what did happen:
1. You are clearly entitled to a refund for the fare difference for the segment.
2. If the agent, in fact, refused to look for D1 availability you may have a claim under EC 261/2004 for downgrade reimbursement. That would amount to 75% of the base segment fare for JFK-SFO. That might be a nice chunk of change.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:33 pm
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Hi folks,

Thanks so much for all the informative replies. I was not aware that I had more power than I thought of under such situation. I thought we had to take the downgraded option as the first flight was punctual, and the crowded border was not what Delta was responsible for.

Followings are the conversation between the agent and me.

Me: Explained the situation, and showed them the IDs as requested.
Agent: (took the id of my girlfriend and operated on the computer for a while) There's a 505pm plane to SFO and I've found her a seat (38B). (Handed us the boarding pass)
Me: We're on D1 tickets. May I know if there're any options for a D1 seats?
Agent: No the business seats are full.
Agent (noticed my ID): Are you flying as well?
Me: Yes.
Agent: (typed for a little while) You're on the upgrade list. GA should be able to find you a seat.
Me: Could you also look into the flight at 650pm or others and see if there were any D1 seats left?
Agent: Do you want to fly with her or on a different flight?
Me: I'll fly with her then. (took my boarding pass)

I'm not sure if there was a miscommunication between us. What I was expecting is that the agent should give us a few options (e.g. different routing / later flights for a D1 seat vs. MC in the next flight), but the agent just proceeded and gave us the boarding pass for the downgraded seat and was not willing to make further changes. I thought they would at least ask me if I would like to take the next flight in MC or later / longer flights in D1.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:40 pm
  #10  
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This makes more sense. Sorry about the slightly snarky reply, your OP made it seem like you never said anything about being in D1. This was just a bad agent. Any decent (which is most DL agents) agent would've found the first D1/F routing and offered it, along with main on the next nonstop.

As for rebooking, the airline that brought you in, is always liable when it comes to rebooking. Being in their control or not only effects compensation and/or offer of hotels/meals (absent a law like EC261 mandating it).
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
2. If the agent, in fact, refused to look for D1 availability you may have a claim under EC 261/2004 for downgrade reimbursement. That would amount to 75% of the base segment fare for JFK-SFO. That might be a nice chunk of change.
OP - I would definitely recommend pursuing EC261 downgrade compensation because you asked for D1 and were involuntarily downgraded to D1. I hope you have the agent's name, but if not DL can access this by seeing who rebooked you.

Originally Posted by COYG View Post
Me: We're on D1 tickets. May I know if there're any options for a D1 seats?
Problem #1 . You never ever ever ever ever ask THEM for availability. You can search this yourself on delta.com in 2 seconds. It works much better when you are knowledgeable about the real availability and can feed them actual flight numbers to use.

Originally Posted by COYG View Post
Agent: Do you want to fly with her or on a different flight?
...but the agent just proceeded and gave us the boarding pass for the downgraded seat and was not willing to make further changes.
That is such a stupid question for an agent to ask you (bolded above). It would come across to me as quite rude, actually - OF COURSE I want to travel with my significant other in Delta One, dummy!

The moment they asked that, I would let them know that was a silly question and to request a Red Coat immediately, and for them to make no further changes to my record.

I'm surprised you didn't ask for a Red Coat when they were unwilling to make further changes. Or get on the phone with the Diamond Desk right then and there, asked for a rebooking and 10K miles in your account as a courtesy for this inept agent. Hello, you're at JFK, so lazy and rude agents abound (for every airline). But, a good case for EC261 compensation.

---> As an aside, it still surprises me how little frequent travelers know about their rights (like EC261) and also how little they are willing to "stand their ground." I mean, who in their right mind would accept a middle seat on a transcon flight when they paid for lie-flat business class seats? Maybe if the agent had rebooked me in a main middle and blocked the window and aisle next to me, and everything else was sold out, I would take it.

Otherwise, JFK-LAX has many more widebodies on it than JFK-SFO. Plus, even if not Delta One, how many routings are there between NYC and SFO in First Class? Anything would be better than a middle seat in Y - that is literally the worst seat on the plane!
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:51 pm
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You should still contact DL asking for partial reimbursement (cash for you, miles for your girlfriend) as you flew in a lower class cabin than what you were ticketed for, and you were not provided with any alternatives to fly in your ticketed cabin despite asking the agent.

ETA: per the above, I guess this probably does fall under EC 261 downgrade compensation, but I'm not sure if there's a major difference in asking for one over the other. EC 261 entitles you to a 75% refund on the downgraded leg (which they would probably determine based on the proportional distance of that flight) whereas typical policy would entitle you to 100% of the difference between the coach fare and your business class fare. I suppose that determining the relevant coach fare can be trickier and the airline can use it to their advantage, so maybe EC 261 is the better route practically speaking.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:54 pm
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PS It was at JFK where an agent argued with me about whether my JFK-LAS that was booked in Delta One (literally the app said "Delta One" instead of First Class) was Delta One or not.

She insisted it was First Class. How clueless - I mean, they only operate Delta One flights from JFK to 5 locations: LAX, SFO, SEA, LAS, and SAN. How hard is that to remember, or look up?

It took a Red Coat to correct her. What an idiot. But that's JFK for you - sometimes you get bad agents. As a Diamond Medallion honestly they should just have only Red Coats help us. The rest of the agents, for anything that is even mildly complicated, either don't know how or lack the systemic authority to help.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 12:54 pm
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Unfortunately yes you were completely entitled to wait for later D1 seats.

Many of us have found in IRROPS or other misconnections it is better to determine what routing YOU want and feed that to the agent.
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Old Sep 3, 19, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
... As to what did happen:
1. You are clearly entitled to a refund for the fare difference for the segment.
2. If the agent, in fact, refused to look for D1 availability you may have a claim under EC 261/2004 for downgrade reimbursement. That would amount to 75% of the base segment fare for JFK-SFO. That might be a nice chunk of change.
as I read OP's retelling of the events, the root cause of the misconnect was the delay passing through Customs & Immigration, which (I believe, having no experience in the matter) is in no way eligible for EC261 compensation from DL

any compensation for "If the agent ... refused to look for D1 availability" is entirely between OP and DL Customer Service
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