Products & Services – Delta Air Lines Leaves a Little To Be Desired


  • I felt like my time was not valued based on spending 2 hours on hold.
  • I think the Delta agent wasn’t honest about being able to issue a refund on my ticket. The agent changed the story on what was possible when I requested to complain about the system to a superior.
  • Points of improvement:
    • Eliminating hold time by adding staff or creating a call-back system.
    • Making sure incentives for staff are clear and geared towards resolving customer issues.
  • General Feelings: neutral, negative

The story

I had a trip booked to British Columbia in 2020 for $350. Covid happened, and Delta gave me a credit for the cost of the ticket.

This summer, I decided to go to Montana with some friends. I went to use my Delta credit. Super, everything was fantastic. I paid $800, minus the $350 credit. Woot! So excited to go see Glacier and Yellowstone!

Then the west caught on fire. So, we ended up rebooking for New England. We might not get the dramatic scenery, but we would get some relatively clear air and some good food.

When I looked at my CC statement, I felt a little remorse. Booking flights and AirBnbs for one trip is expensive, much less two. I did a little accounting of all the trips and found most of the refunds and switches had been handled correctly. Except for the Delta one.

My credit had never been applied and I had been charged the full fare. When I went back and looked for the credit, I couldn’t find it on the receipt for the ticket or on the Delta site. Something had gotten mixed up along the way and the website was saying there was no longer any credit.

I resigned to call Delta.

I put it off a few weeks. When I finally called, it was as bad as I had thought it might be. “Your expected hold time is less than… two hours.” It took about two hours to get through to a human.

When I finally did get through, I explained my issue: I had bought a ticket to Montana and had exchanged that for a ticket to Massachussetts. The ticket to Montana didn’t have the credit for $350 applied.

The attendant and I worked out that I had a $100 credit for the difference between the Montana and Massachussetts tickets. The attendant found my ticket from last year, and couldn’t tell me why the credit hadn’t been applied, even though it was “attached” to my Montana ticket.

The attendant then explained that she could get me my $350 credit back as well as get me a $50 credit by rebooking my existing ticket at a lower rate.

I asked, will that apply the $350? The attendant said I would have to use that credit at a later time. The attendant apologized and said that there may have been some sort of failure because so many people are using the online booking system and that sort of thing may happen.

I politely said I thought Delta should be able to refund the amount of my original credit.

The attendant explained the ticket was non-refundable.

I said again, I thought that because it was clearly a mistake by the Delta system, I thought they should refund it anyway, but I understood the attendant didn’t have that authority.

We went through with it and I received my $50 credit.

I thanked the attendant and then asked if there was anyone I could speak to about the system glitch and Delta’s policies when they made a mistake.

At that moment, the attendant said it would be possible to refund my ticket, rebook at the new, reduced rate, and use my credit.

Then, in a moment, we were done. I thanked the attendant and went on my way. In hindsight, I’m concerned. My request to escalate the issue was clearly the trigger for the refund of the non-refundable ticket. I had clearly asked for the same outcome, explicitly during the conversation and been rejected. I seriously doubt a call center attendant would take the initiative to hold onto my money for Delta without some incentive or policy behind it. The interaction felt dishonest. It felt like I was being sold. The two hour hold time felt like a barrier put up to keep me from getting service.

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