I booked a cash fare on Delta One from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) for flights during the past holiday season. Five hours before my flight, I got a text from Delta saying that my seat was changed due to an equipment swap. And not just that, but Delta downgraded me to the Main Cabin.
Why Did Delta Downgrade Me?
Even though both planes were 767-300’s, they have different configurations. The new plane assigned (76K as Delta calls it) only has 26 Delta One Business Class seats. Versus, the original plane I was originally assigned on (76L) has 36 seats in Delta One. Meaning, they ended up 10 seats short. It seems that my original plane was delayed from Europe, so they swapped the plane to make sure our flight was on time.
What About Premium Select?
Interestingly, I saw that the new plane that would be operating our flight had a “Premium Select” with 18 seats. Why weren’t the people downgraded accommodated into that cabin? The lady sitting next to me, and a couple two rows behind us were all part of the 10 who got downgraded and we all ended up together in the Main Cabin. I think Delta just didn’t try hard enough to accommodate and put us wherever they could. Downgrading to Premium Select would definitely have made the experience feel better and as if they put an effort given the circumstances.
On the plus side, even though my ticket was showing “Main Cabin”, it was actually a Comfort Plus seat with a bit more legroom, but they sell it as a standard Main Cabin seat on domestic flights. The couple who was 2 rows behind me ended up in a standard Main Cabin seat, and I heard two other people grumbling down the aisle complaining about being downgraded and in row 50. I got lucky, to say the least.
The lady who sat next to me was quite friendly and joked that it would be nice if we got the meals that we both pre-ordered in Delta One. I told her that would be very surprising if it came true. As predicted, we did not receive our pre-orders- who would have thought!
Any Rebooking Options?
So, after I got the text informing me of the change, I immediately called Delta. They said all flights in Delta One were sold out for the day due to the holidays and upcoming weather. Thus, there were no other options. They did add me to the standby for an earlier flight, but there were no seats available. I also checked with an agent at the JFK Delta Sky Club when I arrived at the airport. Sadly, nothing new popped up. She did tell me to reach out via phone/email after I completed my flight and that I would get a refund of the difference between the Main Cabin to Delta One plus something for the inconvenience. Love how I have to reach out, can’t they proactively do it? 🙂
I submitted a refund request complaint online the day after I completed my flight. The automated email said current response times may exceed 30 days in some instances. About 14 days later, a day or so after completing the final leg of my roundtrip, I finally received an email that seemed partially automated. It was from a Refunds Solutions Specialist that refunded the difference between the Delta One fare to the Main Cabin. I’m unsure how they would calculate the price on that, but with the refund it made the Main Cabin ticket end up costing me $160 one way which seemed to be fair. Oddly, the case number it referenced wasn’t the same as my refund request complaint, so I figured they hadn’t fully addressed it yet.
At day 30 I wanted to check the status of my complaint after hearing nothing on email. So, I called in and got connected to customer care. After explaining my situation, in addition to the fare difference I had received, she said I was eligible for $250 eCredit or 10,000 SkyMiles for the trouble, so I took the eCredit. It seems a bit low given how much they have been giving out in eCredits when looking for volunteers on full flights. But, it’s in line with what people on Reddit have shared with similar experiences to mine. Looks like Delta downgrades people quite often…yikes.
Out of hundreds of flights I’ve been on, this has been a first for me for getting downgraded on a flight. I do feel Delta could have been more proactive with the whole experience including the refund and complaint resolution. Hopefully, those who are reading never have to deal with this.
Have you been downgraded before from Delta One to the Main Cabin? Or on another carrier? How was your experience? Comment below!
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