I had a full fare DeltaOne ticket from ATL-LHR and I was downgraded due to a Delta error that upgraded an Elite member to my seat. They tried to move him but he wouldn’t budge and I agreed to $9K travel voucher compensation as I was embarrassed the plane was being held up.
It all started when I couldn’t check in online in OKC. I noticed I had a normal reservation with seat numbers, and then a secondary reservation without seat numbers. I get to the airport and they give me a gate check ticket.
With this I am ineligible for precheck. Luckily I am in the OKC airport, so that means there are a whole 15 people in the security line. When I get to the gate, they have my OKC-ATL and ATL-LHR boarding passes with my seats I had reserved online.
Move forward to using the Delta lounge in Atlanta and the agent scans my ATL-LHR boarding pass and says that’s weird, hits a bunch of buttons and a few minutes later I am all good. I still have my confirmed seat 3d boarding pass. Flight is delayed about an hour and I am about the 15th person in line when we start boarding. My boarding pass scans and beeps and they ask me to stand to the side. The gate agents are very nice saying they don’t have me in the system and they don’t know how I got the boarding pass. They inform me they are sold out in DeltaOne, but will get me on the flight as there are 3 open seats. I inform them I am only getting on the flight in seat 3d. Well now, the plane has completely boarded and they don’t really know what to do. I remind them I am on a paid business class ticket and I am sure they have some elite upgrades that they can downgrade. They eventually say that is what they will do and they will downgrade a person in another seat. While I wanted 3d, I will be fine with whatever. They bring me down the jetway and they tell a passenger in row 1 that he is now moving. He says no way and he comes out to the jetway just a few feet from me. It was a very awkward situation. We talk a little bit about how messed up this is. This guy is dumbfounded like me and just keeps saying he is not giving up his seat and this is all Delta’s fault. Delta offers him a $2k voucher as well as a hotel and direct flight the next day in DeltaOne, or a flight on Air France to CDG then to LHR that was leaving in about an hour, or this flight in a middle DeltaComfort seat, or a a regular economy window seat with the aisle open right next to it. (we are on a 767 with a 2-3-2 configuration) He still will not budge. By this time we are approaching 2 hours past original departure time. The FA’s are all standing at the door just waiting for something to happen so they can close it. Eventually a few managers come and try to talk to him but this doesn’t go anywhere. we are now at 2 hours total delay, and about 45 minutes just figuring out the seat situation. I tell one of the agents that my voucher number is between $5k and $10k, and I will take one of the other seats. He informs me he only has authority to $5k. (Also, I believe since this is not a denied boarding situation, they cant offer cash.) Delta is really just focusing on moving this passenger and I am just standing there patiently. It’s one of those situations that you know isn’t going to end good, but curious to see what the eventual resolution is. The pilot now comes out and says since we had a late evening flight that is now delayed by 2 hours, if we don’t leave soon we will have to take a longer route due to traffic coming to the US and will require more fuel. The upgraded passenger doesn’t care and still wont move. This goes on for a few more minutes with of us all just standing there. They eventually tell him to go back to his seat and they will de-board the plane and then he will physically be removed. He does not have a problem with that and goes back to his seat. A higher manager is now around and I remind them of what my number is. 30 seconds later they say deal and print off my $9k voucher while and I go back for 8 hours in seat 29F. It was embarrassing walking back to that row as it was like a walk of shame when when I still had my 3d ticket.
Nobody really understood how this happened. I am not really sure how to prevent it either. What would you have done?