Delta Is Now Unilaterally Canceling Tickets Eight Days After Booking

Filed Under: Delta

The airline mistake fare madness continues:

I think it’s pretty obvious that both of these were mistake fares, so my major issue isn’t with them not honoring the fare, but rather with the amount of time they took to contact passengers. It’s one thing to inform passengers within 24 hours that a mistake fare won’t be honored, but to wait over a week is completely unacceptable, in my opinion.

When it comes to fares like this, the lack of any sort of communication typically indicates that it’s being honored, so I think people were perfectly reasonable to assume after several days that the fare was likely to be honored.

What I found unusual on the business class mistake fare, though, is that the cheap fares were bookable through both Delta and Virgin Australia, though only Virgin Australia reached out to customers to inform them tickets were being canceled. On one hand, it’s odd for two partner airlines to take different approaches to honoring a mistake fare. On the other hand, Delta usually has a pretty good track record of honoring these types of fares.

Well, I’m now getting quite a few reader reports that Delta is sending out cancelation notices for those who booked business class tickets from Auckland to Oakland under this deal. Apparently Delta is both calling and emailing people, and giving them the option of being rebooked in economy or being refunded. Here’s what the email says that people are being sent:

Last week, you purchased a Business Class fare from New Zealand to [destination]. Unfortunately, due to human error the fare price advertised was incorrect and we’re unable to honor this ticket in its current form. We are very sorry for this inconvenience but would like to offer you some options so you can continue your booking with us.

If you still wish to travel, we will move your booking into Economy . If you decide you no longer wish to travel we’re happy to provide you with a full refund and we’ll cancel the booking.

Please call 1-800-455-2720 Option 4 so that we may address this as soon as possible. Please reference the above case number.

Again, we sincerely apologize for this mistake and we thank you for understanding.

I don’t have any skin in the game here (I didn’t book one of these fares), and I also realize they weren’t required to honor these fares. However, Delta waiting over a week to inform passengers that their tickets are being canceled is unacceptable.

Did you book one of these fares through Delta, and if so, has the airline reached out to you yet?

  1. This is outrageous. The DOT should allow passengers the same right to cancel fares 9 days after ticketing if they think this is fair. We get no consumer protection.

  2. Delta doesn’t fly to New Zealand not Virgin Australia to Dallas

    it’s a Virgin Australia fare error involving a Delta operated flight or verss and booked via an OTA and not with the airline itself

    There is even a website There’s a risk associated with booking this way

    To the layman it may appear to be the airlines’ fault but not necessarily

  3. Consumers have 24 hours to cancel a ticket after booking. Airlines should have the same right. After that, they should have to live with it. That is the only fair solution.

  4. As long as they’ll let me cancel / change my tickets AT NOT COST TO ME ‘due to human error’, I’m fine with it… Obviously, they’re not. Truly not right. After 9 days, I’d imagine I’d have started booking other trip-related things, some possibly non-refundable.

  5. Airline should have no more then 72 hrs to make correction or they have to stick with it… Passenger only have 24hrs here…

  6. They probably had to wait a week for their revenue system to gather all the bookings and then make a (shady) call to revoke the tickets after they saw the revenue impact. I’m just surprised the email didn’t say “you’re welcome we canceled your ticket.”

  7. I agree with @Gringa. As a business owner, if I screw up, it’s incumbent on me to make things right for the customer. Delta should be held to at least the same standard. Instead, however, Delta will likely find some way to blame the ME3 for the fact that they refuse to honor their own ticket. If I ran my business like that, I’d have a lot less customers.

  8. I got the call today and I mentioned it in the other post. Just disappointed and I did file a complaint

  9. So it continues…

    There is no limit when an airline can suddenly cancel ticket and claim error fare. There is no way to tell how cheap is too cheap to be an error fare.

  10. Paul get out of here with that nonsense. Your conspiracy theory the everything went unregulated a November ago is laughable at best.

  11. Mine’s still intact: How many days would it have to be untouched for me to consider it “safe”?

    Just don’t want to end up in New Zealand only to be denied boarding…

  12. @ Paul, I believe these un-regulations were implemented in 2015 or so? I forget who was in the Oval Office then but I don’t think Trump took office until this year. Again, I would have to check.

  13. @Willem

    That’s the issue that so many defending the airlines have failed to grasp.

    There is no “safe” number of days. As it is right now, airlines have as long as they want to cancel your ticket since there is no rule governing it. They could cancel 6 hours before your departure if they want to.

    That’s the issue people have with Virgin and Delta, not that this so called mistake fare is being cancelled, but that they took more than a week to do it.

  14. I think that if it applies to the airlines it should apply to us as well. I booked a last minute one way from PIT to MIA.
    The ticket was booked 5 days in advance. ( at least I thought )
    When I heard AA was canceling flights to Miami I called and ask what they were going to do with my flight. The agent told me that my flight was Sept 10 it was Oct 10
    I had booked it one month ahead by mistake. Of course they would not fix it. It was my mistake they kept telling me!
    I do know it was. It was human error just like in this case. But they can cut themselves a break and me no !!!!
    Also the app was terrible for AA
    When you selected the date if you were booking in the same month the calendar for the following month came up and then you have to scroll back. Instead of the current month then scrolling forward. That’s where the confussion came from. I had to buy another ticket and Was hoping for a major delay to get a refund and it never happened. Also since I missed the flight ( I checked in online. Lol ) I never even got the miles. Even tho they award miles based on ticket prices not miles flown you still have to fly. Good grief can I win at anything with the big 3

  15. Hold people!
    Everyone who booked this fare clearly knew what they could have gotten into with this mistake fare! Dont play stupid about that.
    The name of the game is they ARE willing to honor your tickets; Actually ALL of them but in Y which would have been the correct class of service for that price. Not sure what you all are complaining about?
    Look move on! You win some and loose some….its the bame of the game and airlines are clearly looking at who is taking advantage of them and their frequent flyer programs hence moving them all to revenue based programs….
    Oh and dont you all worry, the day will come with Alaska moves shortly over too! So open those wallets cause cheap mileage runs are a thing of the past and using those millions of miles foe first class will too be a thing of the past with the new addition of dynamic mileage pricing too.

    So stop and enjoy what we have for the moment! Its fun to run and use them for what we want but you can not count on them forever!

  16. What are you complaining about? I got my mistake fare from Brussels to Seychelles cancelled by Ethiopian more than a month after the ticket was issued. Neither the airline nor the OTA (gotogate) bothered to give any notice. I only discovered when opening Tripcase to find the trip had mysteriously disappeared.

  17. Seems to me you should book the most expensive non refundable hotel you can find in the interim , and then Delta would be obligated to refund the money to you

  18. @Scott said “The name of the game is they ARE willing to honor your tickets; Actually ALL of them but in Y which would have been the correct class of service for that price.”

    Econ 101: There is no arbitrary “correct” price for anything (unless it’s a government-regulated price.) The “correct” price in a market economy is price that one party is willing to sell at and another is willing to buy at.

    These airlines offered a service for sale at a set price, accepted payment, then backed out of the sale days later, blaming “human error”. This is ridiculous – if this is allowed to continue, what’s to stop an airline from noticing a flight is selling fast, dishonouring the lowest-price tickets sold, and reselling them at a higher price in the name of “human error”? And if airlines are allowed to cancel so-called mistake fares at will, where’s their incentive to make sure their staff get it right?

  19. Did someone really blame Trump about this? The DOT stopped protecting the consumer in 2015, under Obama.

    This is getting ridiculous with the mistake fares. The DOT needs to make a rule of 24 hours for both parties. Airlines are just totally stepping on the consumer now.

  20. @Scott: How would one KNOW that these were mistake fares? After all, United’s doing sub-$500 fares from LAX-SIN, while charging the same or more for a FL to PA RT flight. It’s not like airfare is priced by the mile these days. The consumer would have no practical way to know.

  21. Let’s see. You’re a little short on cash this month. What do you do?

    1. Publish a $900 “mistake” fare. Sell 1000 tickets.
    2. Collect $90,000 which is invested in short term liquidity funds, etc,
    3. Nine days later say “whoopsie” and cancel.
    4. Three-four weeks later return the interest free short-term advance of $90,000 and pocket the $10-15 thousand you made from the interest carry. It’s not a lot, but it’s free money in a tight margin business. You’ll take it.

    Surprised that this fraud hasn’t been exposed yet.

  22. Everyone seems to question how the airlines can get aways with this, you must start with the conditions of carriage that each airline has. I’m pretty sure that there is some verbiage in there that covers pricing along the lines of “reasonable” amounts. For example, I saw a $50 first class fare online from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa and purchased seats for my whole family. Well, a few days later, I get a notice from the airline stating thay due to human error, the tickets were refunded. I got mad but I really didn’t have a leg to stand on because $50 wasn’t the norm for that route and it wasn’t reasonable.

    Just as some grocery stores do will not honor prices that were misprinted in newspapers or certain coupons, the same goes with airlines. The DOT is just going to laugh at your complaint as longs as the airline gives full refunds.

  23. @Sally, no one is going to believe $50 return to Joburg is a reasonable fare. However, in these days of crazy trans-oceanic prices, $900 Auckland to Oakland in Business just sounds like a really good deal (assuming this is USD).

    WIth many long-haul business fares being offered at $1200-1500, this fare is high enough to sound valid. That’s where the potential for fraud by the airline occurs. Charge a teaser fare and see who bites. If too many people do, you claim “mistake”

  24. @JK, short term interest on 900,000. I did mistype the total (I’m dyslexic with numbers and have to be careful) but I also said $900 x 1000 tickets. Do the maths.

  25. I agree, Lucky, that perhaps stuff like this a way to fight back is remove all Virgin Atlantic reviews and references from your blog. Maybe the other major bloggers will do somas well. I’m not sure volume but I’m willing to bet a lot of people who will spend $6-10k on a RT ticket do their research first and if they can’t find anything on VA regarding quality and experience perhaps they choose Qantas or some other competitor.

  26. In this instance, this may be more of an issue of “Bait and Switch” rather than an airfare mistake. If a vendor sells you one thing and then gives you another inferior product, it is called Bait and Switch which is illegal under consumer law in Australia and New Zealand and perhaps the USA as well.

    Why is this different? Because Delta has put it in writing that they will “move your booking to economy.” The problem is, an economy ticket only costs less than what they charged you for the original ticket. Hence the bait and switch.

  27. I posted that yesterday that I got a call from Delta asking if I wanted to downgrade or cancel. I ended up canceling my flight and they said they will give me a full refund within 7 days. However, when I look in my delta account I still have my flight booked in business. Any recommendations on what I should do at this point?

  28. Still no emails or calls of yet. Everything looks to be intact. What happens if I don’t receive any notifications? Does that mean I can fly?

  29. Just got a call back from Delta, THEY ARE GOING TO HONOR MY TICKET!!!! Apparently, the upper management decided to honor the tickets after a conference call yesterday morning. The same lady who called to cancel my ticket yesterday called back today. I’m so excited. BTW, I did file a complaint through DOT.

  30. That’s great Sam. So for those of us who had their ticket’s cancelled by Delta does anyone have any advice on how to precede to see if we can get our tickets honored?

  31. If you can still retrieve your booking online through, I would pick up the phone and call Delta asap. Even if you can’t retrieve it online, I would still call them with your reservation number. What I hear is that the DOT agreed that it was ‘bait and switch’ scheme.

  32. @Sam – I just received a call from Delta! They are going to honor my ticket as well! I am so excited! It was the same lady that called me last Thursday as well. I hope it works out for everyone as well!

  33. Yeah. I think it’s pretty safe to say everyone’s going to get a nice holiday present after all. I’m seeing it from flyertalk as well. I think we all deserve it after this crazy roller coaster ride.

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