Delta Air Lines is canceling tickets calling a $2,700 lie-flat seat across the Pacific a mistake. After selling mix itinerary tickets for nearly 24 hours on codeshare partner Korean Air, Delta is now claiming the $2700 ticket was not intentional. The airlines has sellers remorse and is now clawing back tickets. More than 48 hours after the tickets went on sale and more than 24 hours after the last ticket was bought, Delta started cancelling tickets. Delta Air Lines is winning zero customer loyalty points. Instead of honoring their mistake, they have opted to cancel all tickets.
The $2,700 Delta Mistake fare
Over the weekend Delta offered premium class seats from New York to Bali for around $2,700. The Transpacific segments are operated by Korean Air, sold as a codeshare, in First Class. All other segments are in business class with a few segments in economy. Depending on the day and what online travel agency sold the ticket. The deal was available on a number of routings. Including direct First Class from JFK to Seoul or connecting via LAX, Seattle, and other major West coast cities. Even multi-stop itineraries were available and some codeshares included business class on China Airlines. Most online travel agencies sold the tickets, even American Express IAP program. Amex’s IAP program reduced the cost to nearly $2,300. Or you could purchase directly from Delta for $2,700. The sale was widely talked about on Flyertalk, and I even mentioned it here after the sale ended.
A $2,700 premium seat is not an amazing deal. It’s actually not even much of a mistake. Over the last several years, premium tickets have fluctuate greatly in price. Twice, since 2020 I was able to buy tickets from New York to Brazil in business class on both AA and Delta for under $500. In 2018, Cathay Pacific sold First class tickets for less than $700 roundtrip. Cathay called it a mistake, but still honored the tickets. Japan Airlines recently sold tickets to Bali in Business class for $700. TAP consistently offers Transatlantic airfare for less than $1000. Jet Blue Mint Suites to London often cost below $2,000. Yet, despite all of these data points, Delta is calling $2,700 for a premium ticket a “mistake”. Meanwhile, nearly every day of the week someone can buy a ticket from Cairo to the USA in business and first class for around $2,500.
On Tuesday morning, Delta started canceling reservations. First, Delta Air Lines canceled their direct bookings. Then about a day later, OTA bookings started to be canceled. All booked passengers received the following email.
We’re reaching out because of your recently purchased flight from the U.S. to Bali operated by our partner, Korean Air. Unfortunately, due to an inadvertent publication error, an erroneous fare was displayed at the time of your purchase.
As a result of this erroneous fare, Delta is canceling your ticket, and a full refund of the ticket price will be issued. If you incurred any out-of-pocket, nonrefundable expenses that were made in reliance upon your ticket purchase, please contact our Help Center and follow the prompts under Feedback and Complaints to request reimbursement. Please be sure to include any receipts for out-of-pocket expenses in your request. For rebooking options, including rebooking at the corrected fare, please visit Delta.com.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused and hope to have an opportunity to serve you soon.
Thank you for choosing Delta.
Just like that, sellers remorse kicked in. Although you may not have any recourse for buyers remorse, Delta unfairly and unjustifiably canceled all ticket due to sellers remorse. Can they get away with that? Maybe, more on that later.
Delta Air Lines Mistake Fare Apologize
A day after cancellations begin, Delta recognizes that they need to do something to make this right for customers. No, they did not reinstate the tickets. Instead, they started to offer future flight vouchers. For each reservation, customers receive a $200 voucher. In my inbox, I found the following email.
We apologize again for the error with your purchase and any inconvenience it may have caused. It’s important for the team at Delta to make it right. In addition to the refund of any ticket price paid to Delta for this trip, we are issuing a $200 Electronic Transportation Credit Voucher (ETCV) for each member of your travel party, which you should receive within the next five business days. You should receive your refund within the next 5-7 business days.
Know that your experience is important to us, and we are always striving to improve. Thank you for your loyalty; we hope to serve you again soon.
Ok, I know what we all are thinking. I just received a $200 voucher for spending less than 10 minutes booking plane tickets. As nice as the gesture is, it doesn’t make up for the fact that Delta has now canceled my ticket due to sellers remorse. Sure the $200 towards a plane ticket is nice. Will I use it, maybe. Likely not though as Delta is not my airline or alliance of choice. Regardless, I believe Delta is only doing this to avoid Department of Transportation complaints.
What Can you do Now?
As a consumer there are limited options. Unfortunately, the airline lobby is strong and consumer protections in this country continue to dwindle. The law is not very straight forward. In 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) established clear rules. Provision 399.88 protects consumers against changing the price of a ticket after purchase. For years, this meant that airlines had to honor mistake fares. Yet, that all changed On May 8, 2015 the DOT issued a Mistaken Fare Policy Statement. Basically rewriting the rules of mistake fares. Giving airlines the power to void basically any ticket they wish.
As a matter of prosecutorial discretion, the Enforcement Office will not enforce the requirement of section 399.88 with regard to mistaken fares occurring on or after the date of this notice so long as the air line or seller of air transportation: (1) demonstrates that the fare was a mistaken fare; and (2) reimburses all consumers who purchased a mistaken fare ticket for any reasonable, actual and verifiable out-of-pocket expenses that were made in reliance upon the tick
The issue. The May 8 ruling was suppose to be temporary. However, 7 years later a new rule has not been written.
My advice, Complain to the DOT. Delta Air Lines is required to provide written response to every DOT complaint. Not only does this rise awareness with the DOT of Delta’s sellers remorse and practice, but it may and I stress may, help change things for the better. Or at least provide clearer rules from the DOT. You can file a complaint with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the DOT. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes. I’ve filed a complaint and encourage you to do the same.
Why Complain to the DOT
There is evidently a few people who think that but you have been brainwashed by corporations. They think that we should feel bad for the airlines for this “mistake”. I disagree. We need to hold companies responsible. After all, if you book the wrong date the airline has no sympathy. If you pay for luggage and end up not checking a bag the airline has no sympathy. A flight booked in the wrong direction, again the airline has no sympathy. If you miss your flight the airline has no sympathy, and may rebook you, or may tell you to buy a new ticket. If the flight you booked goes down in price after purchase, NO SYMPAHTY. Why should we sympathize with major corporations. Sellers remorse should not be standard operating procedure and the DOT needs to hear from consumers.
Delta Air Lines has decided that a $2,700 premium fare is erroneous. They sold the ticket for over 24 hours, yet are no longer honoring the fare. It’s unfair that airlines can randomly decide what’s a mistake and what’s not after the fact. Seller remorse should not be considered a good enough reason to cancel tickets on paying consumers. Passengers do not have the right to cancel tickets without fees and consequences. Why should the airline? If Delta gets away with this, it gives them motivation to cancel tickets whenever they want for any reason. Today they may sell you a $200 ticket from Los Angeles to Tampa. By Monday they may recognize they could get $500 for that same ticket and decide to cancel your ticket for the possibility of more profitability. I am currently selling trips to Antarctica for less than $11,000, $5,000 – $10,000 off other sailings. Sales happen. Airlines need to honor their sales.
At the end of the day, we need stronger consumer protections. Delta’s recent dirty deed is further proof.