Bumped from First Class On Paid Ticket

Old Jul 31, 2022, 8:11 am
  #1  
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Bumped from First Class On Paid Ticket

After 20+ years with Delta, I experienced something new earlier this month and would love any perspective folks can add.

In short, I was bumped from First Class to Main Cabin, despite having purchased my ticket with cash. The bump occurred literally while I was boarding at the gate - my Delta app still showed me in 2C, but after scanning the barcode, the machine spit out a slip with a new seat assignment - showing me in 33C.

The gate agent was confused, and eventually said there was a "glitch" that led to my seat being sold to another passenger. She said there was no way to reassign me to any other First Class seat.

The next day, after calling & writing to Delta to complain, a Customer Care person told me the downgrade was performed by a station manager at my departing airport (BWI), and that a downgrade can occur for many reasons, but she was unable to research and tell me why mine occurred. I was offered a refund of the fare difference, plus a $200 voucher. (I complained, and she upped the voucher to $300.)

It's worth noting that I'm a long time Delta Diamond, Million Miler, and Amex Platinum cardholder. Again, I paid for the First Class ticket with cash, not an upgrade. If I was "bumped," it seems hard to believe Delta followed any sort of typical prioritization in selecting me for bumping.

Can anyone offer insight into why a paid First Class passenger would be bumped at boarding time? (FWIW, the First Class cabin appeared full when I eventually boarded, so it wasn't due to broken seat equipment.)

I'm not even going into the atrocious way Delta handled this incident at every step of the way (no help at the gate; broken promises to get back to me; literally never a single apology for what happened; repeated statements from Delta that contradicted other statements, and turned out to be wrong; no offer of even a refund of fare difference until I had a 1+ hour conversation with an agent to complain; refusal of a manager to escalate further). My illusion of Delta as a world-class customer care organization has been thoroughly shattered, after experiencing how they handled my situation.

One lesson learned: you are (apparently) never, ever "guaranteed" a particular seat, even if you pay cash.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 8:50 am
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Delta can talk-the-talk but apparently failing at walking-the-walk. This isn’t the first time I’ve read, on this site, the same thing happening to others traveling on Delta. Considering I only fly first or business class, tickets that I pay for with cash, I don’t want some Delta agent telling me, “I don’t know why you were reassigned from first class to economy. We can’t get you in a first class seat for 3 days and it will require 3 changes of plane”. The more I read stuff like this happening on Delta, the less I want to spend money at Delta. I have low elite status on one of the other major US carriers and I’ve never experienced this when paying cash or using miles on both domestic and international flights.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:26 am
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This happened recently to my friend’s family on American — they paid for about 6 first class tickets (family vacation) and they bumped her son’s GF out of first class to coach so a pilot could have her first class seat. My friend was so upset and embarrassed as it was the first time the young woman was traveling with my friend’s son etc. Like you, they didn’t find out until they were boarding. It’s been several months and my friend is still fuming about it.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:28 am
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Unfortunate but this happens on every airline with multiple cabins. Fare difference + $300 sounds reasonable to me. Contrary to popular belief on this site, gate agents cannot produce more seats or flights on the spot. They have to work with what they have.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:31 am
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Federal Air Marshall, maybe?

I don't think $300 was reasonable. It's a pretty egregious thing to do IMO.

At a minimum, since this clearly required some human intervention to do, the passenger should have received a call when it happened from the human who did it.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:33 am
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Airlines are no longer required to seat FAMs in FC (or other premium cabin seats).
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by whitewave
This happened recently to my friends family on American they paid for about 6 first class tickets (family vacation) and they bumped her sons GF out of first class to coach so a pilot could have her first class seat. My friend was so upset and embarrassed as it was the first time the young woman was traveling with my friends son etc. Like you, they didnt find out until they were boarding. Its been several months and my friend is still fuming about it.
Two points:

The pilot who got the F/C seat may have been traveling on company business, and DLs policy/contractual obligation according to its CBA for pilots may require that he/she fly FC.

If this is the worst thing that happens to this young couple as their relationship evolves, they will be very lucky.

In short, after several months, everyone should get over the perceived slight.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:39 am
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Did you ask for a seat on another flight or another airline? I almost had this happen to me a Delta flight from South Africa. They had two broken seats in the front and got us rebooked on an AF flight two hours later ( and we were bumped to first from business).

It may be different with international flights though. It might be harder to get transferred to another airline in the US due to the extra effort involved.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:41 am
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Originally Posted by SCEflyer
Two points:

The pilot who got the F/C seat may have been traveling on company business, and DLs policy/contractual obligation according to its CBA for pilots may require that he/she fly FC.

If this is the worst thing that happens to this young couple as their relationship evolves, they will be very lucky.

In short, after several months, everyone should get over the perceived slight.
Oh, For sure. I didnt ask if her son switched out with his GF for half the flight, that way she could have at least had half a first class flight.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:52 am
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seat assignments are of course never guaranteed but I would push this with delta more before accepting the explanation you've been given so far. Standard involuntary downgrade comp should be fare difference + $200 all in cash, not voucher, but I still would want to hear more about why this happened and how you in particular were the one selected to be bumped.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by whitewave
Oh, For sure. I didnt ask if her son switched out with his GF for half the flight, that way she could have at least had half a first class flight.
Some other family member could have offered to take the downgrade so that the couple (and presumably the family's honored guest) could sit together in the premium cabin.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by WillBarrett_68
seat assignments are of course never guaranteed but I would push this with delta more before accepting the explanation you've been given so far. Standard involuntary downgrade comp should be fare difference + $200 all in cash, not voucher, but I still would want to hear more about why this happened and how you in particular were the one selected to be bumped.
I believe the OP said that these folks were traveling on AA and not DL.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 10:00 am
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That's appallling.
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 10:00 am
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Originally Posted by SCEflyer
I believe the OP said that these folks were traveling on AA and not DL.
OP literally said nothing about AA
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Old Jul 31, 2022, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by whitewave
This happened recently to my friends family on American they paid for about 6 first class tickets (family vacation) and they bumped her sons GF out of first class to coach so a pilot could have her first class seat. My friend was so upset and embarrassed as it was the first time the young woman was traveling with my friends son etc. Like you, they didnt find out until they were boarding. Its been several months and my friend is still fuming about it.
Fuming from first while neither the father or boyfriend offered their seat?
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