Now that I have lost most of you with such a boring title, let me tell you a little about my day. Days actually. It has taken two weeks to get an infant ticket issued for a client and now that the process is finally over, I want to make sure you never have to deal with what I did. Before I tell my story, I’ll summarize: no matter what they say, the issuing carrier must also issue the infant ticket. In other words, if you book a ticket through Delta and want to add an infant, Delta must book the infant ticket.
This was certainly not the first infant ticket I had booked in connection with an award ticket–in fact, I book them all the time. And they are typically a pain, though I have never had to fight with a carrier to issue a ticket like I did with Delta.
When issuing the award ticket, I asked to issue the infant ticket concurrently and the agent said no problem, but then came back a few moments later and said to call back tomorrow because the infant ticketing office was closed. Last time, the agent just booked the infant ticket directly and it did not require a call to a special office, but okay…no problem.
Next day, I called back, provided the information, and was told to wait on hold. 15 minutes later, the agent returned and said I had to book the ticket through Virgin Australia because all the fights were on Virgin Australia. I protested–this wasn’t a Virgin Australia ticket, I explained, it was a Delta ticket and Virgin could not just amend the ticket or issue a stand-alone infant ticket. Nope. The Delta agent insisted only Virgin Australia could do it. So I requested the Virgin record locator and called Virgin Australia.
I do love Aussie accents…
The girl was quite nice who answered the phone but quick to confirm what I already knew–Delta had to book the ticket. I called Delta back. Same story–they couldn’t do it. I called Virgin back and asked them to call Delta for me. They did, later coming back and telling me all was in order and then transferring me to Delta, but Delta again refused to ticket the infant, citing a “system problem.”
Now I was angry. I asked to be transferred to the Delta international manual reissue desk, the “pros” who are supposed to know how to issue tickets. They did not. They told me the same thing.
I called back Virgin once again–just in case I got a bad agent the first time and the second time–and happened to reach the same agent I had spoken to earlier (a small call center, perhaps?). She again insisted Virgin Australia could not help and volunteered to call Delta back for me. It took almost an hour on hold, but she finally patched me through to Delta where I spoke to a guy claiming that he could issue the infant ticket for me.
I provided him all the necessary details and credit card information and he said that a paper ticket would be mailed to my client. Fine. Case closed. He only charged $172, which seemed far too low, but I did not speak up (after all, if it is a paper ticket, they could not collect more after the fact). An infant ticket is usually 10% of a full-fare ticket, which would have been about $1300 in the case of a business class ticket from Los Angeles to Australia.
A week went by and I received this note from my client last night–
Delta called tonight regarding the infant ticket. They said they’d received the request, but couldn’t process it and that we should call Virgin Australia directly.
A direct number was left (which I intend to use in the future for all award bookings!) and the woman who answered the phone gave me a new reason why the ticket could not be issued: Delta’s outmoded technology! (“We’re all hoping to get this updated soon.”). It seems, at least according to this Delta agent, that Delta can only issue paper tickets for infants, not electronic tickets and Virgin Australia is a paperless airline. She claimed that upon further investigation, Virgin Australia would not have accepted the paper ticket and therefore Delta would not issue it. I pleaded with her just to send the ticket, but she kept repeating that Virgin would not accept it.
So I called Virgin back and reached another agent I had spoken to previously. It really must be a small call center…She put me on hold to confer with a supervisor and came back to say that a paper ticket would be fine. I asked her to call Delta and tell them that, which she agreed to do. Turns out getting in touch with the right person was not as easy as she thought, so she took down my number and said she would call me back.
20 minutes later, a Virgin Australia supervisor called back and said she had reached someone at Delta who would book the infant ticket. Before patching me through, I asked her to confirm with Delta they could issue the paper ticket even though all the flights were on Virgin Australia. She came back and said there was a problem and she would call me back.
She did call me back about 10 minutes later and triumphantly proclaimed that Delta was ready to book the ticket. If only…
The Delta agent was nice enough, but after putting me on hold for five minutes to read the lengthy comments in the reservation, he came back to put me on hold again and check with his supervisor. He shortly came back and said–and I kid you not–“Sir, we cannot issue this ticket. Just call Virgin Australia and they’ll do it no problem.”
I slammed my hand down on the table and admittedly lost my temper. I asked to be transferred to a supervisor and was obliged. The supervisor was polite and nice, but insisted that Virgin had to issue the ticket. I responded, “Fine. I don’t care who issues it, I just want it done. But I need you to step up for me because I am tried of being the badminton shuttlecock here. Call Virgin Australia and find someone for me who will do this. Please.”
He hesitated for a moment, but agreed to make the call. For the next 45 minutes I sat and waited. He checked back periodically telling me he was still talking to Virgin and scornfully stated that he had to “instruct them on how it is done.”
Well, apparently Virgin had to instruct him on how it was done, because he sheepishly came back finally and said, “Well it looks like we’ll have to do this.” He had to check with his supervisor on how to get it done, but eventually did what I had expected Delta to do from the start–charge 10% of an unrestricted business class ticket, which came to $1299. And just like that, the issue was solved.
Now in retrospect, I encourage you to learn from my mistakes. I did not push Delta hard enough early on. I should have gone all the way up to the supervisor’s supervisor my first call in order to get this done. The solution was simple and I never felt right calling Virgin in the first place. Hats off for them for being so kind about it. I am floored at how long this process took.
Stand your ground if you know you are right–many agents are misinformed and if you read this blog and others on upgrd.com you will soon know more than many agents do when it comes to booking tickets. If you are traveling with an infant, be prepared for a fight to get you infant ticket issued on Delta if booked on a partner SkyMiles award, but remember this simple axiom: you book your infant ticket with the same carrier you booked your regular ticket with. It actually isn’t all that complicated…unless you are Delta.