Two Sneaky Ways Delta Airlines Cheats Its Customers

One of the worst industries in the US is the airline industry. A handful of airlines dominate the industry leading to atrocious customer service. To be precise, just 4 airlines account for more than 80% of the market share. As a oligopoly, these airlines are able to treat their customers worse than sheep and get away with their behavior. Lack of any oversight in their area both at the Federal and State level has left consumers at the mercy of these companies. I have written many times before about the pathetic level of air travel in the country. Below are some of the articles:

With that introduction about the industry, let’s discuss two ways by which Delta Airlines(DAL) cheats its passengers. Delta is one of the four major airlines in the country.

1.Recently I was scheduled to fly from one east coast major airport (JFK) to another city. Let’s call the city City B.

About 2 hrs before departure, Delta sent an email with the subject “Last Minute Information about Your Trip” that stated the flight was delayed by 45 mins and the new time is 9.00 PM.

About half hour later, another email came in with the subject”Urgent Information about Your Trip”. This stated:


This abrupt email and text message did not mention any reason for the cancellation.

So after standing in line for over an hour, when I tried to check in my luggage, the agent couldn’t find my city in the the computer to her own surprise. After checking with some other system, she promptly told me that my flight was indeed cancelled and I had to go to the Rebooking Counter for options. Up until this moment, I hadn’t see the messages.

When I asked the grumpy agent at that counter why my flight was cancelled, she looked in the system and said “it says due to weather”. Pressed for more details on what exactly the weather issue was, she could not answer. She simply said other than weather the system does not give any additional details. To rebook my flight she gave 2 options. All were for the next day. The one best option was to fly our La Guardia airport the next say around 4 PM. That was the best she could do. So I took that option and started looking for a hotel and a taxi. She also said that because it was weather related Delta won’t put me in a hotel and I am responsible for everything.

After reaching my city I checked online and found that many airlines were operating normally into the city. There was no mention of Tsunami, earthquake, volcano eruption, tornado, etc. in the media. In fact, there were a few thunderstorms but that was normal enough that the airport was not closed and all airlines were flying into the airport. In fact, I found out that Delta’s own flights from JFK and other cities had landed fine in the airport around and after the time my flight was supposed to land.

Finding these inconsistencies in Delta’s story, I emailed them asking for the exact and real reason my flight was cancelled. It has been nearly 3 weeks now and Delta has not replied to my questions. They simply ignored it. I double they will ever respond.

Key Takeaway for consumers:

Airlines such as Delta use the “weather clause” when they cancel flights. By using the weather as the reason they are able to avoid liability in terms of accommodation, food, etc. for passengers. Since contracts as usual are one-sided in all industries in the US, the customer has no choice and no legal recourse. It is not like there is some government agency where you can complain and they will investigate. Airlines know this fact and basically treat customers like fools with impunity. Since the state and government agencies are mostly acting as spectators of the industry, passengers have to endure the awful treatment by airlines.

2.In the second example, a few years my flight from City B to JFK in the evening was first delayed by an hour. Then every half hour or so the gate agent kept announcing that the flight was delayed again.

Finally when the flight left 3 hours late, my connecting flight to overseas at JFK was gone. After reaching JFK, when I asked the “customer service rep” that they need to put me and my party in a hotel for the night, he quickly said my flight was delayed “because FAA was conducting some exercise that caused delay in JFK”. Obviously this was a lie and the look on his pathetic face clearly showed that he was making a bold faced lie without shame. After arguing with this lowly level illiterate he agreed to put me in a hotel at Delta’s expense. Of course, Delta did not pay for food. This clearly proves that Delta lied in the 1st place. Otherwise why would they pay for my hotel.

From the start it was clear that Delta was basically using the FAA name to avoid liability. Delta knows that nobody is going to contact FAA at that time or later and even if someone did FAA is not gonna answer anything. It is not like FAA publishes exactly what test, if any, they are doing on their website so that passengers can plan accordingly and deal with airlines if they try to use FAA as an excuse for their faults. If anything, FAA is not known for putting the care of passengers first as the recent two Boeing crashes uncovered.

How is Delta able to get away with chicanery?

The short and sweet answer is because they can. As explained before, there are not many options to fly domestically from point A to B. So Americans in a way are held hostage by the arrogant airlines.

The only way for consumers to give it back is avoid Delta and use other carriers. If 50% of the customers that fly Delta follow this strategy and avoid it, then the morons running it may change their behavior for the better. Otherwise they will continue to prey upon the unsuspecting  public.

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Disclosure: No Positions


  1. Delta tried to steal me too.
    Last December, using my credit card, I made bookings for three to fly from NYC to WDC. They gave me a wrong destination airport. I was asked to cancel and rebook and the money will be refunded immediately in full. Money did not come back. I inquired them by email. I was told that the money is already transferred. As an international transfer I was asked to wait for two bill cycles for it appear in my account.
    I waited. Nothing happened. I phoned them. I was told that the money is already transferred and contact the credit card company. I contacted the bank and lodged a dispute claim against Delta giving all the proof ( Booking and cancellation confirmation, Email correspondence etc.). Two weeks later bank informed me that Delta had provided proof that the tickets were used by me and there is nothing outstanding. The bank informed me that this case will be closed in favour of Delta. I checked the blurred photocopy of an itinerary they sent and found that it is something totally irrelevant to this particular flight. It took me some weeks to explain and convince the bank that Delta is providing false information. After about six months the bank reversed the transaction and I got my money back.
    I was surprised at both the bank whose employees unable to read and compare two simple numbers and also a multimillion dollar Airline company that tried to cheat for something less than 1000$. They both lost a faithful customer.

  2. Sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing your experience with my readers. For us $1,000 is big money but the way Delta and others think if they can do this to say 1 million or 10 million customers then its lots of money for them.

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