How Delta paid us $180 each to fly to Europe

Our trip back from Europe was a beautiful disaster where everything that seemed wrong ended up being oh so right. Late last year, we booked an amazing $420 round-trip deal to fly from San Francisco to London non-stop on Virgin Atlantic and back from Paris to Los Angeles non-stop on an evening Air France. The first leg went fine, the second caused us to use every bit of travel knowledge.

If you’re ever in France, you should always monitor for strikes. When we were there the suburban train workers went on strike along with the national rail workers at SNCF and then Air France.

I thought we would be in the clear since Air France called for action the day we arrived (by train), but then they decided to call for another strike on the day of departure. Generally, the airline will still fly some planes, but they don’t always know how many until the day before. Not wanting to take a chance, I called Delta, who issued our tickets, to see about options two days before departure.

The representative was amazing. Cheryl found us seats on a morning flight to Salt Lake City and a connecting flight to LAX. It would mean we lose a half-day in Paris, but guarantees we get home on time.

For background, when an airline, like Delta, issues tickets on a partner airline, like Air France, they each have an "international desk" that work as the liaison between the two airlines.

It took a lot of work on Chery's end to work with the international desk to get the tickets re-issued from Air France to Delta, but about 15 minutes later we had seats….at least to Salt Lake City. Cheryl warned there were no more economy seats to LAX, but they would assign us whatever was left at the gate. It wasn’t a big deal and I’d hoped it might provide a free upgrade to Comfort+.

We got to Charles de Gaulle early using Le Bus Direct and saw Air France expected to run about 75% of the schedule. Our original flight wouldn’t have been affected, but we kept the early tickets and boarded an uneventful flight to SLC.

We were the first international flight to arrive that morning and, with Global Entry, we sailed through customs in seconds. I noticed our flight to LAX was now oversold so I asked an agent at the transfer desk about switching to a Santa Ana flight before handing over our luggage, but she said we would be fine and accepted the bags. From there we leisurely walked to the gate since there's no Priority Pass lounge in Salt Lake City.
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About 45 minutes before boarding, and very sleep deprived, we heard an announcement about an oversell situation. At first I thought it was about the flight at the gate next to us, but then I realized it was our gate agent making the announcement. All I heard was “....oversold….willing to take a flight to Santa Ana…..hundred dollar gift card….” From there I looked at Tara and she told me “Go.”

I got to to the desk as Julie was finishing the announcement and said we were interested in her offer. She was grateful and started the process of unseating us and securing us seats on a flight two hours later to Santa Ana. I then asked if she could get us to San Diego, since that was closer to home and on an earlier flight, and she said absolutely. Meanwhile, another couple walked up also interested in the offer and stepped aside to wait.

Julie explained we would each get $600 in gift cards. We could chose from Amazon, Best Buy, Target and other retailers. An American Express gift card with a six month expiration caught my eye first since that’s just as good as cash. Thankfully, we didn’t have to decide right away. Instead, Delta would send us an email later that day and we would have 60 days to make the selection.

The process was surprisingly seamless. Julie expertly navigated us through the process and showed her appreciation for us volunteering. I was grateful for her willingness to find us a flight that worked best for us. I also give credit to Delta for empowering and training its employees to independently handle oversells and make decisions.

In the end, the AmEx card paid for our $420 flight and put an extra $180 in our pockets.
How Delta paid us $180 each to fly to Europe How Delta paid us $180 each to fly to Europe Reviewed by Brandon on April 04, 2018 Rating: 5

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