Tiffany writes a really important post over at One Mile at a Time.
She describes finding Delta award seats on the airline’s website. She’s making the booking for four passengers, and the miles aren’t all in the account. So she calls the airline, has them set up the award, and then purchases about $1000 in miles in order to buy the award.
There weren’t enough miles in the SkyMiles account for all the passengers, so the plan was to call Delta and have an agent put the itinerary together before purchasing the remaining miles.
A great agent understood the concern, confirmed the space, built the itinerary, entered all the passenger info, and calculated the taxes — which exactly matched what delta.com displayed as well:
A textbook setup, really, so ~$1000 worth of miles were purchased, the credit card number was provided…
And then the price of the award jumped from 110,000 to 375,000 per person one way when the agent went to issue the tickets.
After escalating to web support, a supervisor, and the re-issue desk they couldn’t get the flights to ticket at the price that would be initially quoted each time. They finally tried “seven different itineraries across three days” before getting something to come up at the promised price for the Tokyo – New York itinerary.
In another industry this would be a blatant weights and measures violation, but I guess those regulations don’t apply to fake currencies
Although I’m not sure that’s right, because in this case she was induced to spend over $1000 purchasing miles based on Delta’s representation.
Here she specifically outlined her plan to spend $1000 on the basis of the airline’s representation, and did so while on the phone with the airline’s representative.
So it strikes me that there would be a reasonable claim for detrimental reliance — or would some sort of estoppel claim be an artifact of state contract law and thus pre-empted by the Airline Deregulation Act under Northwest v. Ginsburg (leaving the Department of Transportation as the only avenue of complaint, when of course the DOT doesn’t currently regulate frequent flyer programs)?.
I’d love to hear attorneys specializing in contracts on this. Delta made an offer, Tiffany spent money for the miles in order to complete the transaction on the basis of that offer, and Delta wouldn’t keep its end of the bargain. And mileage purchases are non-refundable. Is this actionable?