Are Delta Agents Empowered to Lie on the Phones?
Companies make most information available on their websites for you to do your research on your own without calling the phone agents. When you can’t find what you need however, you should be a able to dial in to your trusty customer service representatives to get an answer. Twice yesterday I called into Delta to have them help me with something and was blatantly lied to. This isn’t the first time this has happened nor will it be the last, which leads me to ask the question… are the Delta customer service agents empowered to bullshit on the phones just to get you to hang up and move on?
Via our travel booking service, we get requests all the time to help people use their miles and to find killer first and business class deals. Yesterday, I was trying to book an Aeromexico deal for a client who was having issues with Delta Airlines. He had a bunch of Skymiles and wanted to unload them, but their website was returning no results.
True, I could find space on the Aeromexico website and I could even find space on the Air France website, but when I went to the Delta site, not only did it not show space for the flights, it couldn’t even find the flights to begin with.
I’ve been booking award flights long enough to know that just because you can find a ticket on one airline’s inventory doesn’t mean that they’ve released inventory to their partner airlines, but I assumed that Delta and Aeromexico (considering their joint venture) would be a little bit different.
Call Number One
Not the most awkward conversation of the two, but certainly strange
Me: I’m trying to find two business class seats on Aeromexico from Mexico City to Narita. I can’t seem to find space on the website. Can you help me to see if there’s anything on your end?
Agent: Sure, hold on… hmm – it seems that flight doesn’t exist. No flights exist between two two city pairs.
Me: That’s strange, because I can see that they’re flying today and even available for revenue sales.
Agent: Ah, that’s because Delta is moving out of Narita airport. We’re switching to Haneda. I have a memo here, it says “Delta is moving their flights from Narita to Haneda…”
Me: Right, but this is an Aeromexico Flight, not a Delta flight.
Agent: Yes, but Delta can’t sell seats on Aeromexico flights with miles. Especially considering we are moving to Haneda from Narita airport.
Me: Well that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Why can you sell me a cash ticket and not a miles ticket?
Agent: Because the schedule is uncertain and we might not be operating that flight.
Me: But this is NOT a Delta flight.
Agent: Yes, I understand.
Seriously… this agent was reading a memo stating that Delta flights would be making a switch, and because of that, there was not a single flight on a partner airline? When I pushed back and asked for more information, she got very defensive and told me that “if the computer says no, the computer says no” and that I must be misinformed because she can only sell tickets to revenue flights on all Aeromexico flights.”
Call Number Two
Knowing that the golden rule of all things travel is Hang Up and Call Again I reached out a second time to get someone different. This time the conversation started differently.
Me: Hey there, I consider myself to be above average to advanced with award booking, so I’m hoping you can help me when the website wouldn’t.
Agent: Sure! What do you need?
Me: I need to Z class tickets on Flight X on day Y from MEX-NRT.
Agent: No problem. (pause) Hmm, seems I can’t find any.
Me: I thought that might be the case. Can you find ANY date for me so I can know the mileage cost for the flight?
Agent: Oh, that’s easy. 10,000 miles equals $100 off your ticket.
Me: This is a partner flight. There are fixed prices for partner flights. And that is not true since some flights are fixed price for low tier availability on Delta. Only the pay with miles option is that way, not full Skymiles redemption.
Agent: Ah yes, you’re correct. Let me see if I can find anything. (pause). Hmm, it would seem there are zero dates with availability in the entire calendar.
Me: That seems strange. Do you think you can do a long sell and request it from Aeromexico?
Agent: No, we’re not allowed to do that anymore.
Me: Funny, I just did it last week for Kenya Airways.
Agent: Really, I don’t think we sell tickets on Kenya Airways
Me: Well, they’re SkyTeam, so you do.
Agent: Right, but we’re not a codeshare partner.
Me: Tell you what, would you mind calling the rates desk and ask how many miles that would be? That way I can save up my miles and be ready is space comes available?
Agent: Sure, hold for me.
Let’s pause here and unpack this. First, there are dates with availability, I found them in October and November. Second, 10,000 miles does not always equal $100. Third, dude doesn’t even know what a SkyTeam partner is? Come on Delta. This is not the Platinum line experience that I would expect.
Let’s finish the call.
Agent: Hey thanks for the wait. The rates desk has told me that since we haven’t bought any inventory to codeshare on the flight, I can’t sell you a mileage ticket to the flight. There’s not DL flight number.
Me: Well come on now, you know that’s just not true. If I ask you to book KE012 from LAX-ICN you can book it as KE012 and not a DL codeshare.
Agent: Well that’s not always the case. If you want to redeem miles on a partner flight, we have to have a codeshare number. That’s what the rate desk told me so that must be the case.
Me: So if the rates desk told you that the sky was brown instead of blue you’d believe them?
Agent: Is there anything else I can help you with?
What can you do?
Sadly, the only thing you can do in this case is continue to Hang Up and Call Again. Tweeting at Delta didn’t get anything other than a “we want all our agents to be respectful with our passengers” and nothing more than that.
I messaged a former Delta employee and asked him what he thought about the process. He mentioned that in the past the used a different system that they’ve since left behind. It hampers their ability to make changes and do things that they used to do in the past. The new system says no, the answer must be no. You’ve got to really find someone that is empowered to make those changes, and that can be increasingly hard.