Mistreated by an airline? Here’s what you can do

Posted on: 5:48 pm, August 27, 2013, by , updated on: 01:56pm, August 28, 2013

MERRIAM, Kan. — You buy and pay for your tickets months in advance only to find out the airline is going to stick you in the cheap seats in the back and give someone else the seats you reserved. What can you do about it? FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar explains.

Josie and Conley Stamper have been dreaming about Italy since January. That’s when the Kansas couple booked their tickets on Delta Airline to Rome. Because they were concerned that the nine-hour flight might be hard on their backs, Conley Stamper spent $500 extra for seats in Delta’s Economy Comfort section, right behind first class. His wife Josie used miles to upgrade to the same section.

“The seats are a little larger, a little cushier. I think there is a foot rest,” Mr. Stamper said.

All was well until this month, eight months after they paid for their tickets. Delta informed the Stampers they were losing their special seats and would get a refund for the difference in price.

“The bottom line was we were being moved to regular coach and that was that,” Mr. Stamper said.

Delta told them a different plane was being used and there were not enough Economy Comfort seats to accommodate everyone, pointing out the terms and conditions clause on its website that says no seats are guaranteed. But the Stampers wanted to know why them?

“We paid for and booked before anyone else in that section,” Mr. Stamper said.

Conley Stamper even drove to the airport to talk to a Delta representative in person and offered to move he and his wife’s departure day, if that would help. But Delta said nothing was available for another month.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers thought Delta should have done more. We would have agreed with Delta’s sorry-there’s-nothing-we-can-do approach if the Stampers had been switched from a window seat to a middle seat, but the Stampers were moved from an entirely different section of the plane despite booking months in advance.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers thought Delta should give the Stampers seats in first class if it couldn’t give them the section they had paid for, but a Delta spokesman told us no. So we called the travel experts at consumertraveler.com who were shocked at how Delta was treating the Stampers. Travel Expert Charles Leocha said it was time for the Stampers to call in the big guns and threaten to report Delta to the Department of Transportation if it didn’t give them the seats (or at least the section) they had reserved. Leocha said airlines hate DOT complaints because they become part of the public record.

We don’t know whether that DOT threat made the difference, but hours after making it, the Stampers once again had seats in the section they reserved. Plus Delta told us it’s now re-evaluating its computerized seating system because what happened to the Stampers shouldn’t happen to any Delta customer. In fact, Delta has decided not to charge the Stampers for the upgrade to make up for the inconvenience they’ve suffered.

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