Delta Airlines Complaint - Does Delta Use Safety Critical Failures As Revenue Opportunities?
I was recently ticketed on delta to fly the open jaw route abq - dca - aus, for the purpose of attending a dinner meeting in Washington. Before takeoff, a mechanical failure in a safety critical component was discovered (battery charger to the inertial navigation system) and the flight was delayed for an announced 5 hours to wait for a part to be flown in.
I was promised a full refund, and I thus cancelled my ticket, since I would have missed the meeting I was flying to. Now here's the interesting part: because of a technicality in delta's rules, not disclosed anywhere on their web site that I can find, delta refunds only half my ticket and just keeps the money for my return flight. What's the technicality? "Your itinerary is not on a single record locator. It's on two locators, so the second one is non-refundable." (This was repeated by multiple delta supervisory personnel.)
What is the safety issue here: every time delta cancels a flight for a safety-related mechanical, they make money from people in my, or a similar, situation. The incentives are all wrong here. The more flights delta cancels, the more non-refundable dollars they keep. The sloppier delta's preventive maintenance, the more maintenance delta "defers", and therefore the less safe their flights, the more non-refundable dollars they keep. (They also make angry customers who feel that they have been cheated, but that is not the safety issue.) This may be only a small effect on delta's bottom line, but it is outrageous. Delta has a critical safety failure (luckily recognized on the ground), and I am out many hundred dollars. How many millions of dollars has delta taken in, in toto, from customers in similar situations by denying them refunds?
This is a situation that needs to be brought to public attention and remedied, before it becomes a contributing factor to an accident. Delta should be asked to change its policy and are make refunds on full itineraries in case of mechanical delays and cancellations, notwithstanding the "technicality" of how many different locator records they are ticketed on.