SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A Bay Area tourist was offered $24,000 worth of vouchers by Delta Airlines to give up his family’s seats on an overlapping flight. But he says the airline took back the offer after an alleged staffing error.
“I understand that flights get canceled and things happen,” said David Reeves, a Nashville native visiting San Francisco for the holidays. “But don’t dangle the carrot and pull it back.”
The carrot in this scenario is an $8,000 travel voucher.
Reeves says Delta Airlines offered the voucher to passengers who wanted to give up their seat on an overlapping flight from Oakland to Salt Lake City on Sunday.
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“The lady was like we’re offering $8,000 a seat,” he said. “And I was like, I got 3 places.”
Reeves agreed to give up his family’s three seats on the flight — which amounts to a voucher value of $24,000.
“They accused me of ruining Christmas,” Reeves said, referring to his family. “But it’s $24,000…we can wait for $8,000 a seat someday.”
But the lucrative offer did not last. Reeves says the co-pilot never showed up, so Delta canceled the flight and the voucher deal.
“So I asked him, you’re not honoring the coupons you agreed to pay and now you’re canceling the flight?” Reeves said. “I just thought it was bad business.”
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ABC7 News spoke with attorney Thomas Carpenter, who represents clients in the travel and tourism industry.
Stephanie Sierra: “Do you see many situations like this?”
Thomas Carpenter: “It is unusual for a voucher to be issued for a flight and then have that flight cancelled.”
Carpenter says airlines are required to offer any amount of compensation to passengers before involuntarily bumping them off a flight.
“Airlines have to set the rules on who gets bumped first, it could be based on your frequent flyer status, it could be based on the fare you paid,” Carpenter said.
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But if your flight is cancelled, refunds aren’t always guaranteed. Carpenter says the situation must meet Department of Transportation standards in order to qualify for a refund. For example, some situations revolve around mistakes made by the airline.
In Reeves’ case, Carpenter says Delta was at fault in this scenario. The airline offered to re-book it, but the next available flight was two days later. So Reeves went to Monterey Regional Airport to catch a flight on another carrier. Delta paid for his hotel and rental car, but he says the airline has yet to reimburse them for their trip to Nashville.
“That’s not fair, if we’re not getting the flight and you offered the voucher… why aren’t we getting the voucher?” Reeves said.
Carpenter says it depends on the airline. The Department of Transport does not regulate the terms and conditions of deals offered by airlines.
ABC7 News reached out to Delta Airlines Tuesday morning for further comment on the situation, but has not heard back as of Wednesday night.
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