Dear Delta: I Want My $5 Back

Filed Under: Delta

Lots of people complain about airlines and hidden fees, which is perfectly reasonable given how inconsistent airline policies are, and how hidden the “fine print” often is. That being said, usually these fees are at least published before you book, even if you have to dig a bit to find them.

Here’s a totally minor situation (we’re talking about $5), though one where I was charged a fee which wasn’t disclosed at all.

I’m flying Delta shortly from San Diego to Los Angeles, and booked just a few hours before departure. Why did I book Delta over American?


Anyway, after selecting the flight I wanted, I took a look at the seatmap to select a seat. As an Alaska MVP member I receive complimentary Preferred Seating, though have to pay for Comfort+. So I selected a vacant seat on the seatmap, which happened to be “Preferred.” The page clearly indicated that it was free.


When I got to the booking summary, it still indicated the price of $84.10, which was the price of the ticket without any extras.


But when I got the e-ticket receipt, there was an extra $5 charge on there for a “MAIN CABIN PREFERRED SEAT.”


That was also reflected on the credit card statement.


So yeah, we’re talking about $5 here, which isn’t a big deal. But this was my first time seeing an airline charge a fee which was in no way reflected during the booking process.

Has anyone had a similar experience when booking a Delta flight? Any clue what triggered this?

  1. Dispute it with the cc company. The amount is so small, they’ll probably just give it back without opening an investigation anyway.

  2. Your initials are BJ’s? Cute!

    Rather than disputing the charge with CC Company right away, I think, as a reader, it’d be more interesting to see what Delta has to say.

  3. They really need to invest more in their programmers, database administrators, and testing. I get it, it is complicated, but jesus, they just cannot figure out how to consistently process the same information over time.

  4. I paid for Delta comfort a few weeks ago on my way to vegas for me and a friend. I figured we could get the $99 each in value out of a couple free movies and 6-7 drinks each. The extra legroom and getting off the plane first was a plus. Let’s just say I was pretty pissed when I sat in my seat and there was no in seat monitor…uh I am supposed to have movies here. Luckily I brought my own just in case but I sent them an email the next morning. They offered me 4k in miles for it…I told them since I paid for 2 I wanted 8k in miles which they did. If they know there are not going to be movies not sure why the price wouldn’t be $59 instead of $99 etc.

  5. @MarkO did they claim the economy comfort seats had in seat video while the others did not? TBH unless thats the case they really dont owe you anything so i think 4k miles is a good deal. Whats more annoying is that trying to get a second free cocktail in Economy plus is like pulling teeth.

  6. Purely logistical question: Lucky, how do you have screenshots of checking out? Do you normally take screenshots while purchasing a ticket?

    Seems strange!

  7. Same question as Daniel. Do you use some kind of app to record pages you’ve visited? Or do you screenshot everything?

  8. “…how do you have screenshots of checking out?”

    Since the problem was caused by a bug in the code, it’s easy to go back and re-create the defect while taking screen prints after the $5.00 was charged.

  9. It’s Delta – I’d expect nothing less (or more, for that matter) from them.
    Dispute the charge with your CC company.

    Would have driven or done the train from SD to LA, but understand if you were connecting onward.

  10. If you certainly want attention right away, dispute it through the CC company. I’ve never heard of one doing a partial chargeback. They’ll wind up refunding the entire purchase, and you’ll probably see a very nearly sincere apology in record time.

  11. @travellinWilly

    Then there is a chance – however small – that the $5 WAS presented when lucky checked out and then was not when he went back to recreate the ticket. Not calling anything into question, but that method is certainly less airtight 🙂

  12. All the folks who want to stick it to Delta obviously don’t understand the airline at all. One has to pay whatever the website wishes to charge, since the website is ‘ALWAYS RIGHT’.


  13. Hey, the screenshot shows that it said seat 9D was FREE – you know, available…unoccupied…not already taken by some other sucker.

    They never said there was no charge to choose that seat.

    This is Delta we’re talking about. They used to post their definitions of terms used during purchases, but those are now hidden to provide you with a better experience.

  14. Absolutely do a DOT complaint—when it comes to money, you can’t let that kind of thing slide. But also call. I fly United, so I’ve had *many* computer-related accounting screwups in the past years. But if Delta is anything like United, then calling and nicely explaining the situation should get it fixed.

  15. Well, I don’t know what it said on the screens, but as a DL hub captive, I can assure you that if you PICK a seat, any seat, there is an up-charge. The ONLY way to get the quoted price for a seat is to let DL put you in the seat of their choice. FREE just meant “available.”

  16. “Here’s a totally minor situation (we’re talking about $5)”

    How many times could they do that per flight? How many flights per year? Now multiply all of that by $5.

    Maybe it’s not so minor.

  17. +1 on filing a DOT complaint. If the airlines priced their products more simply and honestly, their programmers would be able to keep up.

    Likewise, if you call up Delta, I’m sure you can get the $5 + quite a few SkyPesos out of the deal.

    I’m with @StevenL: How much extra revenue is Delta making off of this? It’s why I’d push for the DOT complaint. Most pax (myself included) probably would do a double-take, then go “oh well, it’s only $5” and get on about their day.

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