Delta Does the Right Thing, Will Refund Overcharged Award Tickets

A couple of days ago I reported that Delta appears to be charging more miles for elites booking economy awards than general members. Logged in elites would see a one-way flight for 17,500 miles that general members would see priced at 12,500 miles.

While there was a great deal of teeth gnashing over this, I did not believe it was intentional. Delta’s narrative is that they want to reward their most profitable customers more than others. Charging more miles for elites sends the exact opposite message.

I don’t doubt that there have been plenty of programming changes to the way Delta prices awards, some of them in the background, and some that may be ready to go live but aren’t yet fully tested. Nonetheless, I don’t think this specific result, where General Members can book a seat for 12,500 miles but elites pay 40% more, is what Delta has in store.

I asked Delta what was going on. And I specifically asked whether – if this was a glitch — they would identify any elites that paid more miles for award tickets as a result of this issue, and whether they would be proactively contacting those members to refund their points.

Here’s Delta’s response:

Quick update for you.

We found the pricing issue, corrected it and are now identifying the impacted accounts to refund the overcharge of miles.

As you noted, this was not an attempt to display higher pricing for medallion members.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have cause

While I give Delta a great deal of criticism for their recent program changes, and their lack of trasnparency around those changes, in this case they appear to be doing the right thing.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s all about the “trust me”.

    And they’ve already destroyed any potential for that.

    How would we know if they follow through on this? No charts to verify.

  2. Are we to trust that they will actually refund the Skymiles to those affected? Maybe they could let you know when that actually occurs and then you could ask readers to check for a refund to verify that it actually happened and wasn’t just promised.

  3. i would not trust Delta… most likely what happened is that they were trying to overcharge elites because they know elites already have the most miles and likely would not notice or care.

    they got caught and could not come up with a plausible explanation so they retracted the overcharge.

  4. In this case they appear to be doing the right thing? Are you kidding me? Doing the right thing would mean THIS SITUATION would not have happened. What they are doing now is FIXING THE RESULTS of doing THE WRONG THING.

  5. My bet is that the “pricing issue” was that they accidentally showed any 12,500 prices. So they fixed the problem and everyone gets the 17,500 price.

  6. See my problem is that I just paid 30k for a one way jfk to mex in biz and 17,500 one way in coach returning. How do I know anymore whether I overpayed? I could look at a chart from before they took it down but is it still valid? No one knows…

  7. This was only a mistake because they got caught. I’ve been listening to Delta’s excuses about their website for years. Flat out told us in person at the Atlanta DO that they were going to fix their award calendar (was that 6? 8? Years ago?) It never happened. EVERYTHING that is done by Delta is calculated- it’s not a “mistake”

  8. @Easy Victor – the fact that you’ve been putting up with this behavior for at least 6 years proves to them they have the correct business model in place.

  9. unfortunately, we will have to take Delta’s word for it, as I am willing to be theatre there will not be many refunds of extra miles used. I took over 20 Awards trips over the past year. you think Delta is going to tell me that any were overcharged ? Fat chance of that. Cant wait to finish burning off all of the skymiles I have before the next disco hits !

  10. Gary –
    I have a silly question about delta awards and fuel surcharges.

    I recently booked Boston-London-Boston on Virgin through Skymiles. A single seat round trip cost approximately $200 in fees/surcharges. Not horrible.

    I then booked two one way tickets – Boston-London. $5.

    Then proceeded to book London-Boston. ~$500 in fuel surcharges that I did not pay on the round trip.

    I had miles in two accounts that forced me to book one way tickets. Is there a way to merge them together to save on the taxes?

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