Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — It is a frustrating fact of air travel: getting bumped. But for a Farmington woman who contacted the KSL Investigators, it was especially expensive since she had paid hundreds of dollars extra for comfort coming home from overseas.
Shauna Lund's recent tour of Israel was both amazing and extensive. So, after the 14-hour flight from Tel Aviv to New York, she wanted to fly first class for the final leg home to Utah.
"I just wanted to come home from New York, just be able to stretch out and have a little bit more room," she said.
Lund said she paid Delta Airlines $617 to upgrade her seat. But when she arrived at JFK, she found she had no seat at all.
"They had given the seat away," she explained.
Now somebody else was in her first-class seat on the packed plane, and she had to fly home three hours later in basic economy.
"I could not believe it," Lund said. "All they said, 'We had no idea that you were coming.'"
She didn't get what she paid for, so she filed a claim with Delta for the price difference. Two months passed without a word.
"I don't know who to talk to," she told KSL. "I'm just a small person and a billion-dollar company with 70,000 employees and that they really don't care."
So, she talked to us.
As we began digging, we found there are federal rules about this. If you are downgraded to a lower class, you should be refunded the price difference. And if you are involuntarily bumped when the plane is oversold, you can get as much as two to four times the one-way ticket price.
We reached out to Delta's corporate communications department. We did not hear back, but right after that, Lund received an email blaming her for not meeting Delta's check-in requirements, but as a courtesy, they will give her 12,500 miles on her Delta SkyMiles account.
But, wait a minute: She checked in at Tel Aviv, before departing for New York. And Delta knew she was going all the way to Salt Lake City. We know this because her bag made it all the way to Salt Lake City on the original flight. So, we reached out to Delta again. This time we did hear back from a Delta representative, saying they would deal with Lund directly. And just like that, Shauna received a $200 voucher, a $339 refund on her credit card and she gets to keep those bonus miles.
A recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Transportation found travelers file complaints against the airlines three times as often as they did before the pandemic. This summer, the agency clarified refund rules, saying airlines and ticket agents must make refunds promptly. Prompt means no more than seven business days for credit card users and no longer than 20 days for consumers who paid in cash or by check.