Delta Eliminates Phone Ticketing Fees

In general we’re seeing more and more fees in the airline industry. However, Delta is making a change which counters the industry trend — effective immediately, Delta has eliminated their direct ticketing fees, which apply if purchasing a ticket by phone or in person at an airport.

Previously Delta charged $25 and $35 for ticketing by phone and at an airport, respectively. Here’s the press release about the change, which has some amusing quotes:

Delta Air Lines will no longer charge a fee for customers who purchase their tickets over the phone through Reservation Sales or in person at airports and other ticket office locations.

“It is much simpler for our customers to not have to worry if they will pay a fee for ticketing with Delta,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s incoming President.

In 2005, Delta instituted a Direct Ticketing Charge of $25 per ticket when purchased over the phone through Reservation Sales and $35 per ticket when purchased at airports and other ticket office locations. Charges varied for some locations outside of the United States. Delta does not charge a fee for customers who purchase tickets on delta.com or through the Fly Delta app.

“This – and every decision we make – is based on engaging with our customers and employees every day,” said Charisse Evans, Delta’s Vice President – Reservation Sales and Customer Care. “By listening, caring and connecting with our customers, we have their backs every time they fly with us. I am extremely proud of our dedicated colleagues who, along with the support of nearly 80,000 Delta employees worldwide, continue to raise the bar by exceeding our customers’ expectations.”

Eliminating the Direct Ticketing Charge is the latest example of the company’s commitment to assisting customers and responding to their feedback before, during and after their travel with Delta.

Okay, we have to give Delta credit for being remarkably consistent. They say one reason they eliminated these fees is because “it is much simpler for our customers to not have to worry if they will pay a fee for ticketing.” That’s the same logic that Delta used for eliminating award charts a bit over a year ago — “it’s much simpler for customers not to have to worry about how many miles an award will cost; instead they can just pay what they’re quoted.”

The other quotes in here are equally amazing:

“This – and every decision we make – is based on engaging with our customers and employees every day”

RH-1

“By listening, caring and connecting with our customers, we have their backs every time they fly with us. I am extremely proud of our dedicated colleagues who, along with the support of nearly 80,000 Delta employees worldwide, continue to raise the bar by exceeding our customers’ expectations.”

RH-2

Bottom line

In all honesty, kudos to Delta for eliminating their ticketing fees. At some point this is just the natural evolution of technology. I have a hard time imagining that many people voluntarily book tickets by phone anymore, but rather just when complexities are involved (website issues, etc.). The few old school customers who consistently book by phone are probably great customers, since they’re not doing online comparison shopping, and therefore may be paying higher fares on average.

When that’s the case, penalizing customers doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Hopefully other US carriers follow Delta’s lead (as they usually do).

What do you think Delta’s logic was for eliminating these fees?

(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)

Comments

  1. I imagine pretty much no one tickets via phone if they could ticket online.

    So as you say the tickets booked by phone end up to be complicated tickets taking hours and many calls . So the cost in time of the CS person could be a lot but the fee is not even per call but per ticket!

  2. I guess phone ticketing fees made sense back in the day when you had to convince people to buy things on the internet rather than the old fashioned way. But that hardly applies anymore, except maybe for some elderly people. The benefits of attracting elderly/unconnected people now probably outweigh the costs of maintaining a call center.

    Nowadays, all a ticketing fee says is “we are going to charge you just to talk to us” – hardly the most welcoming message you want to convey to a customer. Even if that customer is perfectly happy buying the ticket online, he might also appreciate the assurance that he won’t be charged a fee if he calls to change it.

    (By the way, something else Delta does that I really appreciate is allow you to hold your place in the phone queue – they call you when an agent is ready. Although I’d much prefer getting through to an agent within a minute on every call, this is second best.)

  3. It’s a bit like “unfunded mandates” in Congress…” If it does not cost I am for it!” I doubt DL will not make money for NOT charging to talk to them when a customer wants to give DL $$$. 😉

  4. What’s not mentioned in this post is the removal of the ticketing fee coincides with DL opening a new call center in the Philippines.

    Luckily the Medallion calls still route to US agents.

  5. I never thought that ANYONE really booked over the phone anymore, at least not for a simple revenue ticket. Even my elderly grandparents who don’t buy anything online themselves will call their personal tech support–their grandchildren–to get them to buy their tickets for them online. Then I started working at my current job and go figure, my boss prefers to call to book airline tickets. And hotels. She thinks it’s “safer.” I have since taken over the travel arrangements and have time to time had to call an agent to cancel/change something. I have caught more than one mistake that they would have made because I had scoped everything out online first. Go figure!

  6. Delta realizes that this is an opportunity to upsell directly with customers. Let’s face it, when you pick up your rental car from a kiosk it’s impersonal to decline every option under the sun that’s offered. When done face to face with an agent it becomes more personal – and perhaps not as easy to do.
    When purchasing a ticket at delta.com it’s no problem moving on past every attempt to get you to buy a preferred seat, Comfort+ or even to indulge in the luxury of first class. You deserve it after all!

  7. What B.S. I fully expect them to use the same reasoning next time they bring this fee back. “For customer convenience.”

  8. This time next month:

    …in other news, Delta increases baggage fees. “This – and every decision we make – is based on engaging with our customers and employees every day”, said Charisse Evans, Delta’s Vice President – Reservation Sales and Customer Care.

  9. Like most here I rarely ticket via phone, but on occasion been forced to with American because specific flights I wanted to pair on open jaw itineraries were not offered on their lame website. I hope American does its usual, “follow the leader” act and eliminates the fee as well, or better yet, comes into the 21st Century with its website.

  10. There is a use case where you are required to book by phone. For example if you are using a single Delta issued credit to book 2 passengers then you can’t accomplish this through the website and must call in. Suddenly you’re $200 credit becomes $150 if you’re booking for 2. Totally lame. Filed a complaint 2 months ago. If only this change was retroactive for currently booked tickets.

  11. DL announced profit today– way up, of course.

    Revenue and passenger traffic? Down.

    DL is unsustainable in their current gouge-them-all mode, so I’d expect them to relent on other silly policies.

    Nobody talks to the agents by choice, but any “special handling” situation forces you to deal with them– seating issues (happens a lot, especially for families), upgrade clearance, etc.

  12. “By listening, caring and connecting with our customers, we have their backs every time they fly with us.” Right!

    We just came off a Delta AMS-SEA flight. There were 16 empty seats in business. But, of course, since their policy is free upgrades for medallion only on domestic, the seats remained empty. I can not understand the business sense if this. Why not make 16 of your best customers feel appreciated for their loyalty? What would this cost them? Ok, maybe they could make the case that they do not have enough business class meal on board… so move me up and give me the comfort class meal. I would appreciate the nicer seat and feel like they appreciated my loyalty.

    Loyalty programs seem to be one way streets.

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