This Has Just Not Been My Night to Plan Trips: Using a Paper Travel Discount Certificate; and Incorrect Airfare…

n planning for an upcoming trip, I first encountered this technological glitch where it would cost as much as $5,325.00 to rent an economy car for eleven days — only to find that that was not the actual rental rate.

I would say that that rate to me was obviously a mistake; but then, that would negate my argument in defending mistake fares — would it not?

If it would, let us keep this our little secret and not tell anybody…shhh…what obvious car rental rate mistake?!? I have no idea about what you are referring — but I digress…

…as I said in the title of this article, this has just not been my night to plan trips: I was researching airfares between Atlanta and LaGuardia Airport in New York at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines — and I found one for $238.20 round-trip, including all taxes and fees. It is not the greatest airfare I have ever seen between Atlanta and New York; but it was significantly less expensive than similar options to the other airports located in the New York area — and it is a lower airfare than what has recently been available.

I remember when it used to be the same airfare for all three major airports in New York. I suppose those days are gone.

This should have been easy to book, right? Not so fast: a recent flight operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on which I was a passenger was delayed — or something so insignificant that I cannot remember exactly what was the problem. Anyway, a flight attendant announced towards the end of the flight that every passenger will receive a travel discount certificate good for 50 euros off of a flight operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France or Delta Air Lines; and each passenger received one while departing from the aircraft…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…and please do not misunderstand me, as I am thankful to have been given one of these certificates as a pleasant surprise; but the problem is that they are physical paper certificates and cannot be used electronically.

My first call via telephone to Delta Air Lines gave me a recording that the wait time to speak to a representative would be between 45 minutes to an hour. Although I could have used the option to have someone return my call, I decided to simply hang up and try again later.

I eventually called a representative at Delta Air Lines, who had to go through an entire process to ensure that I use the paper certificate for the flight on which I wanted to book. After giving him the information he needed to reserve my flight, I have to mail in the actual paper travel discount certificate to a specific address within ten days.

Tip: the agent advised me to write my telephone number on the actual paper travel discount certificate in case there is a problem or an issue where someone would need to contact me. I thought that this was good advice.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

By the way, it also included an amenity coupon good for either ten euros in meals and beverages; 2000 miles for either the Flying Blue or SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty programs; or a discount of 15 euros on the purchases of tax-free goods sold aboard aircraft operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines or Delta Air Lines worldwide — a very nice touch. I think I will opt for the miles.

René de Lambert of Delta Points gave an insight almost two years ago as to one benefit of these paper travel discount certificates, which is you can place a reservation on hold for ten days without having to pay for it — and that is exactly what happened to me. I intend to mail out the paper travel discount certificate tomorrow.

I then attempted to book another flight — same price, different itinerary — at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines; but every time I did, I would get the following message at the very end of the process:

The fare quoted earlier of $238.20 (USD) has changed. The new fare for this itinerary is $272.20 (USD). To continue your purchase click Continue. Otherwise click Start Over to return to the Reservation input screen and select different dates and times. After accepting the fare change, you may need to re-select your seats. #3005R

The fare quoted earlier of $238.20 (USD) has changed. The new fare for this itinerary is $272.20 (USD). To continue your purchase click Continue. Otherwise click Start Over to return to the Reservation input screen and select different dates and times. After accepting the fare change, you may need to re-select your seats. #3005R

This was irritating because I had to fill everything out first before getting this message; and I had to start all over again and repeat the process. Each time, I started off with an airfare of $238.20 and kept running into an airfare of $272.20 instead — a difference of $34.00.

Once again, I was forced to call Delta Air Lines. At least the recording announced the wait time to only be between two to four minutes — but it was less than that when a representative answered the telephone.

Without telling her what I saw, I gave her the information; and she wound up seeing the same original price that I saw. She also ran into the same issue of the price change; but after being placed on hold, she was able to get a supervisor to override it.

She explained to me that the reason why that happened is because there were no more available seats at that airfare. I found that bizarre because the Internet web site of Delta Air Lines usually warns when seats are limited, as illustrated below in red letters — but I did not get that warning in my case:

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.06.10 AM

The sad part is — even as I write this — that original airfare is still available. I suppose availability might have opened up between the time I booked the flight and as I am writing this article…?

Both times, I was not charged the $25.00 reservation fee for booking an airline ticket via the telephone; and both representatives could not have been more friendly, helpful and polite. Then again — after a memorable visit to a customer support reservations center which was slated to close almost three years ago — I know how to get better results with call center customer support agents, of which I give advice here.

The important thing is that I eventually did manage to get done what I wanted to get done, even though a significant amount of time was spent — so perhaps this was my night to plan trips…

…just not the easiest one I have ever had. Not the most difficult; but certainly not the easiest…

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “This Has Just Not Been My Night to Plan Trips: Using a Paper Travel Discount Certificate; and Incorrect Airfare…”

  1. Tom says:

    “at the official Internet web site of Delta Air Lines”

    We are pouring it on a bit thick with the circumlocutory pleonasms, are we not?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      It’s a discursive prolix — yet tautological redundancy — of pleonastic proportions, Tom!

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