Delta Wants $300 In Fees On A $306 Ticket

When reader Anayah booked a ticket for her little sister to come visit her in New York, she specifically asked Delta if there would be a fee for an unaccompanied minor. They told her (twice) that since her sister was 14, there would be no fee. When Anayah’s family got to the gate Delta informed them that there would be a charge of $100 each way. Anayah’s mother could not afford to pay this fee and, since Delta would not allow Anayah to pay the fee in person at the ticket counter in New York, there would be an additional charge of $100 to pay by phone. The confusion caused her sister to miss her flight, and now Delta wants another fee to rebook her.

Here’s Anayah’s letter to Delta:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have never felt as hustled by an airline as I have been on this day. When I booked the fee for my younger sister to come visit me in New York from Chicago, I called in to Delta to find out what the procedure is for a minor to fly on Delta. I was told on 2 different occasions by customer service representatives that if she was 14 or older, she would be able to fly without paying a fee in addition to the $306 plane ticket… only to have my mother and sister embarrassed at the ticket counter when they were told she would have to pay an additional fee that our mother (who accompanied her to the airline) cannot afford.

When our mother tried to arrange to have me pay it at the ticket counter, she was advised that it COULD NOT be paid in person, only over the phone. When I called to make the payment over the phone on her behalf, we learned that there was an ADDITIONAL $100 fee for paying over the phone to the already additional $100 unaccompanied minor fee on a $306 TICKET!

In speaking with a representative over the phone, we also learned that a previous representative had already entered that they advised us about the fee when they DIDN’T! Instead of telling us that we would have to pay the fee so we could make arrangements for that sooner, the person noted her age in the account and told us we WOULD NOT have to pay a fee.

In all of this confusion, my little sister has missed her flight and we’re being made to PAY ANOTHER FEE to rebook her. In the past 12 years, I’ve missed countless flights in at least 5 countries – some missed flights were my fault, others the airlines’ – never have I had to pay to be rebooked for them.

I am absolutely shocked and disgusted that at a time when our country is in an economic recession and people are choosing to travel by air less and less that Delta would see fit to discourage another customer from ever flying with your airline by extorting a series of irrational (at least irrationally priced, notified, and collected) fees. I know that they are irrational because the final representative with whom I spoke did not charge the ridiculous additional $100 fee to rebook by phone. While I greatly appreciated his gesture, I see that it was all a game to hustle as much money as possible from the beginning, or else I would have been able to make all of the changes by phone without the additional $100 phone fees (x2 for 2 different “services”) and [my sister] would not have missed her original flight.

Sincerely,

Anayah

We looked up Delta’s unaccompanied minor policy and they do indeed charge $100 each way, for anyone 14 and under. The fees are collected at the airport ticket counter when the child checks in.

We also took a look at some other airline’s policies about unaccompanied minors. United Airlines and JetBlue do not charge unaccompanied minor fees for 14-year-olds, but many other airlines do.

Delta’s policy is not unusual or unclear, and their customer service representatives should have advised you of the fee when you asked them about it, especially if they noted your sister’s age on the account, and they should have waived the $100 “phone” fee before your sister missed her flight — not after.

What a mess!

Comments

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  1. se7a7n7 says:

    Oh, no. Now I think she has to pay the $125 email response fee.

  2. 11hawkinst says:

    It just isn’t Delta’s week, is it?

  3. laserjobs says:

    Should have said she was 15

  4. What makes flying a 14-year-old cost $100 more?

    If anything, it should cost less — they are smaller, and weigh less!

    It’s not like they have to give any extra service.

  5. Girl: “I am 15″

    Agent: “May I see your driver license?”

    Girl: “I am 15 – I don’t have a license”

    Agent: “We’ll have to charge you a non-ID fee of $150″

  6. Youthier says:

    $100 to book OVER THE PHONE? Are you kidding me?

  7. Amalas says:

    According to Anayah’s information from Delta, there is no fee for 14 or older. However, the policy that was pulled online, it says there is a fee for 14 or under. Since Anayah’s sister is 14 exactly, I could see how there could be a confusion.

  8. lalaland13 says:

    Why is there a fee if she’s 14 or under? Are they charging her excessive raging hormones extra to board?

  9. SkokieGuy says:

    Okay it’s time that someone makes a TIVO-Telephone. A telephone with a built in hard-drive that automatically records calls to a hard drive. During the call you can rewind and play back, and you can also permanently archive files at the end of the call. Audio files can be emailed from the device, when requested.

    Perhaps when the phone rings, the caller hears, ‘your call may be recorded’, press #1 to accept and complete this call or press #2 to disconnect.

    It’s time consumers take back control.

    Brand Name: TPhone Tivofone, Tivophone?

    Electronic companies, please send me a check.

  10. mmstk101 says:

    @Dooley: don’t forget about the “Lying About Your Age” fee of $200.

  11. Landru says:

    Why do Delta employees even bother to come to work?

  12. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @lalaland13:

    It’s an unaccompanied minor (UM) fee. They take responsibility for getting the kid onto the plane, keeping an eye on the plane, and handing off to the person meeting the kid on the other end (who has to show ID, etc.). It’s a fee for the time the ground crew and flight attendents spend. Every airline charges one, but the age cutoff varies.

  13. QuantumRiff says:

    Its pretty sad when I start thinking that the next time I call a company with a presales question, or a support problem, I am going to have to sign up for a grand central account so that I can record the calls. I have also had problems with phone reps, like when they told me that they were putting a note in my account to credit me on the next months bill, and when calling back the next month, the next rep tells me that the notes say the exact oppositte. Seems like recording all these kinds of calls is the only way to get around the “he said she said” kinds of problems.

  14. camman68 says:

    I’m confused. Meg says “The fees are collected at the airport ticket counter when the child checks in.” The OP said she was advised that she COULD NOT pay the fee in person.

  15. SkokieGuy says:

    @Landru: Why do Delta employees even bother to come to work?

    Don’t fret, pretty soon they won’t have to.

  16. flidget says:

    @camman68: The OP was not allowed to pay the fee in person at the destination, the sister and mother were required to pay when checking in at the origin.

  17. renilyn says:

    @lalaland13: If that was the case, then they should charge the same for menopausal women :)

  18. ein727 says:

    Even with higher gas prices – I’ll be driving thanks. It may take longer but I can bring as many bags as I like and as many people that can fit for $40 a tank.

    If airlines keep this up soon the only people flying will be business travelers.

  19. MercuryPDX says:

  20. Shark1998 says:

    @SkokieGuy: You can purchase in-line recorders from any radio shack for a under $20.00. They work just as well.

    Also, depending on your state. You do not always have to warn another party that their call is being recorded and it is still admissable in court. I live in VA and for my company record all telephone calls and transactions without warning the customer that it is being recorded. It’s helped me out a few times.

  21. hellinmyeyes says:

    OK, these fees are getting ridiculous. $100 to book over the telephone?? Give me a break, Delta…

  22. ein727 says:

    I’ll be driving next time – thanks!

    It may take longer but I can bring as many bags as I like and fit as many people as I can into my car for $40 a tankf-full. Thats just $108 to travel 1000 miles (my car gets about 375 miles on the interstate X 2.7 tanks of gas).

  23. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    If you have the option, travel by Choo-Choo!
    If not go by Vroom vroom. Regardless of the costs incurred by these modes of travel, you’ll save vs. airline fee(ding)s.

  24. Katxyz says:

    At 12 I traveled alone without having to go as a UM. I thought it was optional after you were a certain age. My 14 year old sister also had the option of flying as a UM or as a regular passenger when she traveled internationally the past year. If you select UM, they often make you wear a stupid tag, travel with a group, and wait in specific areas, even if you are 13 or 14. 14 seems old to be forced to do this.
    And 100 dollars extra to go over the phone? WHY? How does that take anymore time, people or paperwork than doing it in person?

  25. SkokieGuy says:

    November 2007, Delta’s stock was $21.10 per share. As of a few moments ago, $7.69.

    The focus on increasing revenues through fees is totally missing the equally significant task of giving potential customers a reason to not despise you and maybe actually want to use your services.

  26. You’re right; it’s not Delta’s week at all. First, Consumerist reports this week that Delta essentially abandoned a MD sufferer onboard and caused her to crawl and then to miss a connecting flight. Then, the press reports that a dead woman was found in one of their restrooms yesterday (no info on what day she actually boarded the plane).

    [www.ajc.com]

    And, now, this.

    Priceless.
    .

  27. SkokieGuy says:

    My wish was granted and I don’t have to buy any equipment. [consumerist.com]

    Wow, Consumerist, you’re amazing! Can I wish for a pony now?

  28. Triborough says:

    And they are wondering why they are on a death plunge.

  29. blue_duck says:

    @Landru: News has to be made somehow.

  30. jenl1625 says:

    @JustThatGuy3: I flew unattended at age 13 without paying a UM fee. Then again, that was in the days when you didn’t have to show photo ID to board (or, if ID was required, they must have been willing to take my school ID), and I didn’t look as young as I was. If there had been a fee (or an issue) it would have been a problem, given that my mom had dropped me in front of the terminal and headed back to work. . . .

  31. VA_White says:

    My son flies as a UM but always on Southwest where they don’t charge a UM fee at any age if the flight doesn’t change planes. We’ve had to send him at wonky times but we always manage to get him there on a non-stop or one-stop-no-change flight, thank goodness. The UM fees to send him to mom’s this summer would have been more than his ticket on another airline.

  32. basket548 says:

    @SkokieGuy: Stock prices are generally based upon future earnings potential, not consumer sentiment. Since the entire airline industry is hemorraging (sp?) money due to the cost of oil (with the exception of Southwest), all airline stocks are down. This is not a Delta issue.

    @OP: I agree with almost everything you say, and I too think that every policy and charge that Delta wanted to make is beyond ridiculous. However, the fact that our country is in a recession really has no bearing on what companies charge for services (especially as their costs are increasing at a far greater rate than the average consumer’s) and comes off as rather sensationalistic and emotional, rather than fact-filled and to-the-point (as most of the rest of your letter read).

  33. basket548 says:

    Oh, and:

    “In all of this confusion, my little sister has missed her flight and we’re being made to PAY ANOTHER FEE to rebook her. In the past 12 years, I’ve missed countless flights in at least 5 countries – some missed flights were my fault, others the airlines’ – never have I had to pay to be rebooked for them.”

    The parallel would be “Every single flight I’ve ever flown has allowed me to check two bags! Why am I being charged not?”

    Unfortunately, airlines have increased all fees lately, including rebooking. However, since your sister missed the flight due to Delta’s actions and not your own, they should have done it for free.

  34. basket548 says:

    @basket548:
    And not = now.

  35. unpolloloco says:

    Here’s the solution to the airline service problem: don’t bail out the airlines next time when they go bankrupt and have to close down. Other airlines will come in and take over, creating a competitive market where customer service is a priority instead of a luxury and where good management is a necessity. No competition = no customer service.

  36. xkevin says:

    Well, technically the younger sister is older than 14 years old unless she was flying on her birthday.

  37. Snarkysnake says:

    I’ll get your fee back for you , ma’am.(sort of)

    See , I’m a bail bondsman. I get calls from Delta employees here in their home state of Georgia all the time.They call late at night and on weekends and holidays when my competitors are too busy or lazy to go get them out of jail. The next time one of you Delta assholes gets arrested for DUI or some other small potatoes rap, I’m going to make you sorry that you did this to this woman and her kid. Fair warning – you are going to pay through the nose and I’ll make you wait in my jail until you pee in your pants because you didn’t want to “go” in a cell full of psychopaths.I’ll give you the wrong court date so that you miss and have a warrant issued that will REALLY mess up your life. I’ll be rude and surly to your mother,father wife or daughter on the phone and tell them that I am taking their complaint seriously when they bitch.
    In other words, I’m going to hold up a mirror to YOUR service and see how you like it. See you soon…

  38. MyPetFly says:

    DELTA = Dumb Executives Leading Talentless Employees.

  39. erratapage says:

    I can’t believe I’m about to agree with the obvious capitalist solution posed by unpolloloco. However, it does seem that a government bailout would just encourage further complete incompetence such as has been exhibited by the airlines recently.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but we know that the current system is broken. I say let’s encourage innovation!

  40. MyPetFly says:

    @erratapage:

    I say let’s encourage the **near** collapse of the US airline industry, saving maybe just a few, then re-regulate the hell out of them and let the industry re-grow.

  41. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @jenl1625:

    Definitely, I did as well. Policy on what constitutes an UM varies from airline to airline.

  42. kepler11 says:

    Delta clearly owes these people something here in return for the misinformation and confusion (take note all you people who accuse me of being an airline shill)…

    The stupidest thing is, you could just buy the kid a normal ticket, check in at a kiosk or online, and go through security with absolutely no Unaccompanied Minor fuss. The airline would not even know (unless the kid looks *really* young and gets stopped at the gate).

  43. hexychick says:

    Flying is getting ridiculous and is making driving seem like more of an option. Now you pay a fee for your luggage, pay a fee for your food or drink, pay a fee for someone under 14, and then pay a fee for paying a fee? Is there anything you actually do get with your ticket any more other than having it serve as a placeholder for a seat?

  44. lalaland13 says:

    @JustThatGuy3: I understand the purpose behind it, but I think 14 is a bit old. It depends on the kid, but I think most parents know whether or not their 14-year-old can handle flying alone.

    @renilyn: Or women who fly during their period. I’m sorry m’am, but we’ve found these tampons in your bag. That will be a $200 menses fee.

  45. MrDo says:

    I think what Delta really wants is bankruptcy. Seriously, who flys them anymore?

  46. papahoth says:

    I love how Delta and the other airlines expect you to spend hours online reading their policies after the purchase. American told me I should have known from reading their website that they close the gate 10 minutes before boarding if the flight is on time, though I never validated since the flight was already gone by the time I got to the gate 8 minutes before departure time. I guess my online travel agency at work should be telling me to read each airline’s web page in detail every time I travel? Or instead I do everything I can do to avoid flying and if I do, I try first Jet Blue, then Southwest.

  47. Morii says:

    Oh great, this terrifies me.

    I’m 15, and about to fly unaccompanied on Northwest on Saturday on a regular ticket. According to their website, 15- 17 year olds can opt out of the unaccompanied program with no charge, but now I’m afraid I’m going to get there and something ridiculous will happen.

    I can understand having a fee for a younger child, although I’m not sure why it needs to be so steep. It gets to a certain point, though, and becomes a bit silly. I think that most 14-year-olds, especially if they’ve flown before, probably know how to get around an airport.

  48. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @lalaland13:

    Hey, I agree. I remember flying _to_ summer camp as an UM, and flying _back_ as a normal person (turned 13 at camp). Remember feeling very cool changing planes on my own.

  49. Egg Yolkeo says:

    Since most 14-year-olds still have their wisdom teeth (right?), maybe Delta should charge a handling fee for those.

  50. @lalaland13: @renilyn: And of course, there’s going to be a requirement that pregnant women buy a separate ticket for the unborn child.

  51. VeiledThreats says:

    While the misinformation was ridiculous and worthy of a stern letter, UM fees serve a purpose. As a former airline agent, I’ve had to babysit a 10 year old for 3 hours when a parent/grandparent/aunt has just “forgotten” or been confused about the arrival time. The fee covers the extra paperwork, hand holding and occasional excessive babysitting hours put in to transporting, with all legal liability, a young child. The age varies, but it’s hard to set a good universal age as one 14 year old might be perfectly mature while another would wander into a bathroom with a pervert. With the stuff I’ve seen cheap parents can’t be left to make that decision. I’ve been lied to on numerous occasions about the (unprovable) age of a child t get around the fees. One even got on the wrong plane when the parent lied and said he was 15 (he was a tall 12). This is why UM fees/paperwork are necessary. The original phone agent and $100 pay by phone fee? Wrong. Flying these days alone without UM status at the age of 13? Kind of scary.

  52. cccdude says:

    Normally I’m not a “blame the OP” type o’ guy, but something that really raised my eyebrows is this -

    “I’ve missed countless flights in at least 5 countries – some missed flights were my fault, others the airlines”

    If someone misses “countless flights” because of their own negligence, I can’t help but to think that someone is a few cans short of six-pack in such matters.

  53. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    Um, I have never in the history of airlining ever heard of an airline NOT charging a fee for an unaccompanied minor. That just doesn’t happen, period. That would be like them volunteering to take full responsibility for someone else’ child, rather than providing a service that is being requested by the consumer for “accompaniment.” Sorry, this sounds like an unfortunate shakedown for $ by someone who thinks flying is a right that they shouldn’t have to pay much for.

  54. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    @MyPetFly: Yeaaaaahhhhh….I hope you’ll be ready to pay a LOT more than the low-cost-of-even-operating-the flight fares currently in place. Can no one see that there is a problem when it is cheaper to fly (even with the price of gas skyrocketing) than to ride the Greyhound? Airline service with increase exponentially when the fares raise CONSIDERABLY and the COST to operate, with a bit of profit as well is covered. Don’t expect good service in an industry that has slashed its employees wages to SUBSIDIZE “customer” jaunts to Orlando & Vegas. No one OWES me a vacation flight, especially not from some airline employee wages, so their bosses can keep the place afloat for longer than the next guy, regardless of lack of covering costs.

  55. vastrightwing says:

    I gave my 14 year old a cell phone & told him he was now 15. If he had any doubts, to call me on the phone. He never called and was picked up at the other airport without incident or added cost.

  56. LittleEnosBurdette says:

    Screw ‘em! I only fly Amtrak. No BS. Gimme my own sleeper berth, my own toilet, steak dinner, some beer in my carry on for the ride, a nice bed with turn down service, morning paper with coffee in bed, breakfast, you can’t beat it. My biggest worry the first time I did it was crashing through the wall at Chicago’s Union Station like at the end of the movie “Silver Streak”.

  57. thelushie says:

    @lalaland13: $200 menses fee? Don’t give them any ideas! Could also be a $200 fee to fly any male from ages 16-24: “raging hormones/sexual prime fee”.

  58. psychos says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    Fuck Delta (quite literally, despite being a frequent flyer on them for several years for reasons I won’t get into, I would not shed a tear if they suddenly went bankrupt.)

    However, I fail to see how your post is relevant to air travel. “You are now free to move around the country?” Southwest cherry-picks the most profitable routes, and those who happen to be served by those routes (and don’t mind the unassigned cattle-call boarding) are sometimes happy with them.

    Why do you think that Southwest doesn’t fly into many major airports in many major cities? Or, perhaps, anywhere overseas? Much as I hate most major airlines, my miles on them do let me fly nearly free (well, that’s going up, but not as much as ticket prices) to most anywhere in the world. Southwest’s world is the US, and for any major city, alternate airports at that. LAX? ORD? DCA? JFK/EWR/LGA? (Oops, we can’t do any of those, let’s just do ISP!) BOS? DFW? ATL? Nope. SFO/SEA? Sorry, go to OAK/GEG for many flights, as with many other airports (and you’re lucky we service the major airports there at all and not just the secondaries!) They may be friendly, but they will not get you where you want to go unless where you want to go is in a fairly restricted range.

    At least you don’t need a passport to ever fly on Southwest! It is indeed such a pain trying to travel to foreign lands to see other cultures than our own, so it is perhaps quite nice that Southwest accommodates that.

  59. Propaniac says:

    @MorrisseyTheCat: There’s a difference between an Unaccompanied Minor, who receives special services and pays an additional fee for them, and an unaccompanied minor, who is simply a teenager traveling alone and is treated the same as an adult passenger.

  60. mariospants says:

    Let’s see… if I decide to fly to Florida with myself, my wife and my kids, the tickets come to about $1500, probably not including extra luggage costs. We get up at 6 or so, get to the airport by 9AM and we wait to board for (let’s say 11AM). If I’m lucky, we got a direct flight so potentially we get to some place like Orlando by 3PM. Deboard and get luggage, it’s now closer to 4PM and then we wait for a car rental shuttle. By 4:30 we’re at the rental building and oh! look! there’s a line-up. 1.5 hours later (if we’re lucky, I once waited 2.5 hrs for my turn at the rental roulette in Orlando) we’re hitting the road at 6PM. The rental for a week’s gonna cost us a couple of hundred bucks. So we’re close to $2000 for a family of 4 and we’re at my final destination (east coast) at 9-10PM (if there are no delays, lost luggage, quick rental car and/or flight transfers). One whole day gone on air travel and basically we can hit the beach the next morning.

    Contrast that with “get in the car at 6am” and drive. If I drive straight through it takes anywhere from between 18-24 hours (if Pennsylvania construction traffic is ok with that) and I’ll get to my destination at 6am and guess what — I can hit the beach at the same time as the flight. Total cost: roughly $350 not including shopping along the way and wear and tear on the car.

    So, not only is driving cross country obviously much cheaper, it’s not much longer, to boot.

    Any wonder why I don’t fly as much any more?

  61. El_Fez says:

    I dont fly a ton (about once a year), and of the airlines I’ve traveled, Delta is the worst – hands down. Their equipment was shoddy, their stewardesses were rude and they were really late getting out of New York (by like 2 hours).

    British Air, on the other hand, treated me like a king. Oh, I’m sure they have problems of their own – but I didnt see it when I few with them.

    I’ll never do Delta again.

  62. aaronw1 says:

    @psychos:
    Psyhcos, Southwest does fly into LAX, SFO and SEA. They may not have as frequent service as they do to other locations, of course, due to slot constraints or other issues. They also fly into BWI or IAD to serve the DC area. DCA is *heavily* slot controlled.

  63. bwcbwc says:

    @lalaland13: Liability insurance in case one of the ground crew kidnaps her (etc.), and the parents decide to sue.