Delta's Contract of Carriage may spring you out of those Retroactive Baggage Fees

Tracy Stewart, May 07, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. In February, I booked a ticket for a domestic flight in May by Delta. Recently, I learned that Delta will be charging for second bags for travel after May 1, I was not unduly worried because I had made this reservation in February and I was sure Delta would not be charging those who made reservations before their announcement. But just to be sure I called Delta airlines and was told that my family will have to pay for their second bags. I did a quick check of other airlines who recently added the 2nd bag fee and found that none of them were charging for tickets purchased before the announcements were made. I would never have bought the ticket on Delta if I'd known this.

    Can Delta get away with arbitrarily changing their baggage policy for passengers who have already purchased a ticket?

    A. The folks over at Consumerist took out the old jewelers loupe for a closer look at Delta's Contract of Carriage and found this:

            D. Amendments to Conditions of Carriage

            1. Amendment by Delta

            ...Your travel will be governed by the rules that are in effect on the date your travel begins. In the event that we amend these Conditions of Carriage in a way that materially affects the terms and conditions of your ticket purchase after you have purchased your ticket but before your travel begins, and you do not agree to be bound by the rules as amended, you may request a full refund of your ticket price.

    Although some Judge Judies out there may quibble over just exactly what it means to be materially affected by the change, it sure seems like enough to wriggle you free from the contract (since, bottom line, it's not the one you originally agreed to). But, as Consumerist points out, you probably don't really want to cancel your flight altogether. After all, If your departure date is creeping up, a new ticket on another carrier could cost way more than what you would have spent on that 2nd baggage fee. So get Delta on the horn, and try bargaining. Refer specifically to this bit from their Contract of Carriage, and ask them to waive those retroactive bag fees. You never know.

    And if it doesn't work? Well, you can ask for your money back or stick with the Delta ticket you've already purchased and consider shipping any extra baggage.