Bay Area tourist offered $24K in travel vouchers but says Delta rescinded offer

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Thursday, December 29, 2022
SF tourist offered $24K in travel vouchers, says Delta rescinded offer
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A Bay Area tourist was offered $24,000 worth of vouchers from Delta Airlines to give up his family's seats on an overbooked flight. But he says the airline took back the offer made after an alleged staffing mishap.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Bay Area tourist was offered $24,000 worth of vouchers from Delta Airlines to give up his family's seats on an overbooked flight. But he says the airline took back the offer made after an alleged staffing mishap.

"I understand that flights cancel and things happen," said David Reeves, a Nashville native visiting San Francisco for the holidays. "But don't dangle the carrot and pull it back."

The carrot in this scenario is an $8,000 travel voucher.

Reeves says Delta Airlines offered the voucher to passengers willing to give up their seat on an overbooked flight from Oakland to Salt Lake City on Sunday.

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"The lady was like we're offering $8,000 a seat," he said. "And I was like, I got 3 seats."

Reeves agreed to give up his family's three seats on the flight - amounting to a $24,000 voucher value.

"I got accused of ruining Christmas," said Reeves, referring to his family. "But, its $24,000... we can wait a day for $8,000 a seat."

But the lucrative offer didn't hold up. Reeves says the co-pilot never showed up, so Delta canceled the flight and the voucher deal.

"So I did ask her, you're not honoring the vouchers that you agreed to pay and now you're canceling the flight?" Reeves said. "I just thought it was bad business."

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ABC7 News spoke with attorney Thomas Carpenter, who represents clients in the travel and tourism industry.

Stephanie Sierra: "Do you see situations like this a lot?"

Thomas Carpenter: "It's unusual for a voucher to be issued for a flight and then to have that flight be canceled."

Carpenter says airlines are required to offer any amount of compensation to passengers before involuntarily bumping them off the flight.

"The airlines get to set the rules for who gets bumped first, it could be based on your frequent flyer status, it can be based on the fare that you paid," said Carpenter.

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But if your flight is canceled, refunds aren't always guaranteed. Carpenter says the situation needs to meet the standards of the Department of Transportation in order to qualify for a refund. For example, some situations revolve around mistakes made by the airline.

In Reeves' case, Carpenter says Delta was at fault in this scenario. The airline did offer to rebook him, but the next available flight was two days later. So Reeves drove to the Monterey Regional Airport to catch a flight on another carrier. Delta paid for his hotel and rental car, but he says the airline still hasn't refunded their travel home to Nashville.

"That's not right, if we're not getting the flight and you offered the voucher... why don't we get the voucher?" Reeves said.

Carpenter says it's up to the airline. The Department of Transportation doesn't regulate the terms and conditions of deals offered by airline carriers.

ABC7 News reached out to Delta Airlines Tuesday morning for further comment on this situation, but haven't heard back as of Wednesday evening.

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