Delta Undoes Newly Added Virgin Atlantic Fuel Surcharges

Filed Under: Awards, Delta

Well this is just plain bizarre. Actually, no it’s not, it’s hardly surprising. Yesterday I wrote about how Delta SkyMiles added carrier imposed surcharges to all award redemptions in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. Previously Delta only charged these surcharges for Virgin Atlantic redemptions originating in Europe, so with this change they added them for flights globally.

This came just weeks after Delta drastically increased partner redemption award costs, without any sort of advance notice, as usual. In other words, if flying between New York and London, you’d pay 70,000 SkyMiles for a ticket in Delta business class, while you’d pay 85,000 SkyMiles plus $495 for a ticket in Virgin Atlantic business class.

Now Delta has undone this change — once again, Delta SkyMiles award tickets on Virgin Atlantic don’t have carrier imposed surcharges, unless you’re originating in Europe. As you can see below, awards between Boston and London on Delta and Virgin Atlantic carry the same taxes & fees, totaling just $5.60.

This is just another example of the problem with the lack of transparency at Delta SkyMiles. A couple of years ago they eliminated award charts altogether, claiming that the price you see is the price you get. But we’ve also repeatedly seen them institute changes like this without any sort of advance notice, and then undo them.

Are we to assume the carrier imposed surcharges were a mistake? If so, will Delta commit to proactively refunding the carrier imposed surcharges for anyone who booked a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award ticket yesterday? Are we to assume that it was intentional, and that in the future Delta may decide to impose surcharges for a day, then undo it, then add them again, etc.? This is the problem with a program that isn’t transparent.

Say what you will about American AAdvantage (and I have a lot to say), but if I saw them do something like this I’d assume it’s an error, because at least they’re transparent when it comes to stuff like this. If they’re going to raise prices or add fuel surcharges, they’ll give us notice.

So, what’s a possible explanation here? No matter what, I suspect this wasn’t a glitch. It’s possible that this being implemented right now is a glitch, but the concept of this as such most definitely isn’t. My guess is that this “feature” was made live too soon, and that they didn’t mean to implement it yet.

However, I’d say with near certainty this just wasn’t a completely random glitch that appeared out of thin air. These kinds of things rarely are.

The lack of transparency at SkyMiles is unfortunate to begin with, but it’s even worse for an airline that seems to have as many temporary “glitches” as SkyMiles does. My guess is that the fuel surcharges will be back soon enough. At least for the time being you can redeem on Virgin Atlantic without these surcharges, as long as you originate outside of Europe.

What do you think the reason is behind Delta’s Virgin Atlantic fuel surcharge “glitch?”

(Tip of the hat to Rene’s Points)

  1. I do know that Delta this weekend is doing a lot of schedule changes. This impacted some future flights of mine. So maybe it was just an entry error. One can hope

  2. Simple answer Delta equals greed
    I pity those stuck doing business with them
    I avoid American and United now but will consider flying them in a push come to shove situation
    Delta absolutely never 0 trust in them

  3. Delta thinks this is OK. Customers really pissed because there was no notice (again)
    The fuel surcharges will be back. Just need to wait for Delta
    PR team to get their lies straight on Tuesday.

  4. Cannot trust DL’s loyalty program at all. Hence, there is no reason to be loyal to DL. Anyway, they do not like loyal customers. They prefer those without loyalty, so good for them.

  5. There is only one rational explanation for this. They simply rolled out the new fees earlier than they planned.

    Exact same thing as posting the notification about banning all electronics larger than a cell phone which they posted in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago: they’re getting ready, and some idiot pushed the button too soon.

    Insider tip: in virtually all IT departments, when you’re going to roll out something new on your website, you first roll out those changes to in internal staging environment – that is, a copy of your external website that’s only accessible to employees, for testing purposes. You test on that stage environment to be sure everything works correctly before you push out the changes to your real, customer-facing website. In this case, Delta simply pushed the new “feature” (the latest price gouging) to the public version of their website sooner than they had planned, and rolled back the changes.

    These fees will be posted soon enough, you just got a sneak peek, that’s all. There is no other possible explanation.

  6. American has made no notice changes, like Eliminating the distance based award chart one April day a couple years back with no notice. So don’t tell me that AA won’t make no notice changes.

    Even our beloved Alaska recently made a no notice change to emirates first awards increasing the price for 90K to 150k one way overnight.

  7. You can’t simply or accidentally push what you have in staging into live production that easily especially on an airline site. There has to be multiple sign off and acceptance testing. A company this size would have multiple stake holders.

    I’m guessing by the number of negative articles on this over the weekend and from very large news outlets they’re probably either thinking twice or choose a future date where they can sneak this in more discretely.

  8. The new system was much fairer, now we’re back to those booking returns from the US having much cheaper redemptions than those from Europe – compounded by much quicker/easier acquisition of large quantities of miles they have available.

  9. I’m convinced that Points buffs don’t live in the real world. Why should they give any notice on a pricing change? If my local car dealer offers an unannounced one day sale and I miss it do I go to them and whine to have my price adjusted? If I’m not walking through a store on a day they offer a better price am I entitled to buy it at that same price a day later? Sure sticking to a policy is a good thing but why in the world complain when it changes, even for just a few days? And btw, I’m not loyal to any travel program any longer…I’ll game them all equally now and will put my money where I see the best value.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *