Delta Air Lines – Passenger alert

I believe that as a regular visitor to the United States for the past 10 years that it is my duty to bring to the attention of my fellow travelers the manner in which Delta Air Lines recently treated us.


My wife and I were booked on Delta Flights 1417/36 from Orlando via Cincinnati to London on Monday 16th October 2006.

On the 9th August 2006 we received the sad news that my wife’s mother had un-expectantly passed away.

On the morning of the 10th August I called Delta Air Lines Reservations to request a date change for her return flight to London, explaining the circumstances of the case. Despite several appeals and offering to pay for the date change the Delta official was adamant that it was not their problem and that if my wife wanted to get back earlier, she would simply have to purchase another air ticket.

Due to the urgency of getting her back as soon as possible there was no way that I could take this matter up with Delta at that point and I was therefore forced to purchase another ticket for the flight to London at a cost of $1164.50.

I subsequently checked my e-ticket and it clearly states on the ticket "This is a special fare ticket. Changing your reservation may result in penalties” This clearly confirms that the nature of this ticket was such that changes were permitted but would incur penalties. The Delta official had refused to offer me this option.

On the 1st September 2006 I E-mailed Mr Lee Macenczak, the Executive Vice President of Delta Air Lines, bringing the circumstances of the case to his attention and requesting confirmation that the manner in which this matter had been handled was indeed official Delta policy.

Mr Macenczak passed the enquiry onto an Executive Assistant Tina Umland for investigation and she first contacted me by E-mail on the 5th September 2006.

On the 25th September I received confirmation from Tina Umland regarding their official policy regarding such circumstances and I quote from her E-mail “Under bereavement circumstances, we would normally rebook passenger, charge difference in fare but waive all penalties.”

Tina Umland went on to say that under the circumstances they would be prepared to refund the return portion of my wife’s original ticket.


  1. Delta Air Lines confirmed that it was not their official policy to force passengers to buy another ticket under bereavement circumstances.
  2. The ticket in question made specific provision for changes against payment of certain penalties.
  3. Delta Airlines confirmed that under such circumstances they would normally rebook passengers but waive all penalties.
  4. Delta Airlines failed to inform their staff of their policy and as a result I as a passenger was forced to purchase another ticket for my wife at a cost of $1164.50.
  5. Now Delta Airlines have agreed to a refund of only the return portion of my wife’s original ticket and expect me the passenger to carry the can for the additional costs of $614.40, which have been incurred by me as a result of their failure to adequately train their staff.

In my opinion it is truly amazing that a huge international organization such as Delta Air Lines would confirm that the matter had been handled in a inappropriate manner yet still expect the passenger to foot the bill for their failure to adequately train and inform their staff on company policy.

If you believe that their actions are reasonable, then I suggest that you continue using the services of Delta Air Lines. If on the other hand you agree that Delta should indeed refund the additional costs that I have incurred as a result of their inefficiency then may I suggest you carefully consider your options before booking flights with this carrier?

Hogard Gevers
South Africa

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov