Now Delta won’t fly my cello

Another tale of heartbreak from the unfriendly skies, this time from Rachel Hanlin Siu, a rceent graduate at Juilliard.

She tells Slipped Disc:

I was told to contact you about a massive issue I’ve just come across. I will be participating in the Carlos Prieto competition and I booked my two flight tickets through Delta Airlines about a month or two ago, one for myself, and one for my cello.

I called to make the booking, as per usual when booking for a seat for the cello. I called Delta today to confirm my booking, just to double check that everything would be ok. It seems now there has been a massive problem, where both my tickets were booked under my name, including my cello ticket, without the CBBG abbreviation to notify the airline that the second ticket is for the cello.

I have been on the phone with Delta for two hours. They say they can only refund my tickets and nothing else. My flight was supposed to leave early morning Friday, leaving me to book my tickets for a much much higher price, x2. They don’t even have a flight leaving the days I need, which also means I will be losing money on the hotel I booked, leaving me with no money to actually book these new flights. Can they do this?

 

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    • It doesn’t seem at all clear to me that the error isn’t the airline’s fault. She made the booking by phone, and said at the time that one ticket was for her cello. The booking agent, who is an employee of the airline, apparently did not enter the reservation properly, despite having been told that she was booking one ticket for a person and one for a cello. How, exactly, can this be construed as “not the airline’s fault?”

    • How is that clearly not their fault? Airline employees are infallible? We’ve got someone who has booked flights for herself and her cello repeatedly, and a booking agent who may never have done so.

      My advice: when you think the booking is done, have them read back everything to you, and have them send you an electronic copy for confirmation. Don’t hang up until 100% satisfied that everything is as you expect — dates, times, stops, seats, names, price, etc. — leave as little room for unpleasant surprises as possible. It shouldn’t be necessary to do this, we should be able to deal exclusively with competent staff who try to make the experience pleasant, but it is easier to fix the problems before they have your money than once the wheels are in motion!

    • Um, clearly it’s the airlines fault… she *called* them to make the reservation for her and her cello, and they made an error.

  • Why can’t they just change it to CBBG? Is Delta really “ready when you are?” Doesn’t look like it.

  • The great thing about the USA is the freedom individuals hold to make decisions without scrutiny of their management. The bad thing about the USA is that fact that a lot of the people making these decisions are idiots. They don’t really have to follow any set rules because it seems they make up their own rules. It happens everywhere. Security at concerts is another example of the freedom to make bad decisions. The only time you can get them to really, really listen is if you print our their airline rules, highlight the section that pertains to you and wave it in their face and then start crying. Print it out on really nice paper as if you are holding the Declaration of Independence.

  • how does she afford 2 tickets as a college student. when we were young, we could barely afford a bus ticket let allow 2 tickets for instrument and person on a plane. Millenials rich.

    • It’s called planning, saving, scrounging. If you really want something, you find a way to get it done. Don’t be so judgemental when you don’t know the details.

    • Sara E., it’s a prestigious competition. It isn’t a vacation, it’s an investment in this serious cellist’s career & an honor to compete. Would you say the same of athletic competitors? Or a business grad investing in their start-up?

  • Did you call Delta to originally book your ticket and the one for your cello? If so, how could they have issued two tickets to the same passenger?

  • I suggest you contact Elliott Advocacy via its website. It is a consumer advocacy organization, and deals mainly with travel issues like yours.

  • One cannot trust reservation agents to do things correctly; one must double-check every detail and do not allow them to hang up before it is all clearly set. The problem with using computers is that the software rules.

  • Have you called several of the tickets people? They often disagree with each other, and sometimes you can ask to speak to a person higher up once or twice, and get an actual human with common sense.

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