Reader Question: Delta Flight Delay, Missed Virgin Atlantic Flight & Rebooking In Lower Class Of Service On KLM

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about an issue with Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic due to a Delta flight delay (was rebooked on KLM in a lower class of service).

Virgin Atlantic DOT Fine

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I’m wondering if you could help me in my very frustrating battle with Delta and Virgin Atlantic!

In November last year I was booked to return home on a flight from Houston to Manchester with Virgin Atlantic.

The first leg of the flight from Houston had a disconnection into Atlanta so I was rebooked onto a flight back to the UK via Amsterdam with KLM which was where the fun began.

I had booked a premium economy flight with Virgin and no such seat was available with KLM and I had a dreadful journey which got me home more than 7 hours late!

According to EU law if there is a delay over 6 hours I am entitled to compensation but Virgin (who booked me onto the Delta flight) said they were not responsible as itches Deltas fault. Delta say as they are a US carrier they are not liable for EU laws.

Delta’s terms and conditions state that as I was not given the equivalent upgraded flight I am entitled to a refund of 75% of the cost of my seat but even after they accepted that I would get a refund which never appeared they now say I have to claim from Virgin who say it’s not their problem!!

I have been bounced between the 2 carriers for the last 5 months and now don’t know which way to turn.

It would be helpful to know who the ticketing carrier is here. Ultimately, they would be responsible for any compensation.

The EC 261/2004 rule doesn’t apply here because the Virgin Atlantic flight was missed due to a delayed Delta flight. The reader was rebooked on KLM in a lower class of service; in economy instead of premium economy.

The reader is eligible, at the minimum, for the price difference between the premium economy and economy. Both Delta and Virgin Atlantic are trying to pass the issue.

The reader should open a Money Claim Online (access here) as it appears that she is from the UK. I would have both Delta and Virgin Atlantic names as the other parties.


Very unfortunate situation here. The reader is eligible for the fare difference between the paid service (Premium Economy) and received one (Economy). Perhaps some compensation miles thrown in as well.

Both Delta and Virgin Atlantic are trying to pass the responsibility to each other. Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic (and seems to be running the airline).

Best way to get either of these parties to pay up is to open the claim and let the court decide. This can be done entirely online in the UK.

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  • mike

    Could one have refused the downgrade and insist on being placed on a flight with same class, even if a day later etc?

    • Malcolm

      Yes the downgrade could be refused, but then the arguement would be about the delay in the flight and the cost of the overnight stay. In my opinion what the OP did was the lesser of two evils. I wonder if she was given an option?

  • Jamie Curtain

    Ticketing carrier has nothing to do when it comes to EU EC261/2004!
    Same with codeshare, doesn’t matter at all.
    The only thing that matters is the OPERATING carrier.
    If passenger has missed his flight due to a delayed Delta flight, the operating carrier whose fault it was is Delta.
    Since Delta is a U.S. carrier and not a European carrier and the flight originated NOT in the EU, EU EC 261/2004 does not apply–> no compensation according to EU261

    Any other U.S. rule / DL’s own policy however could give him compensation if there is such a law that grantes one compensation.
    There also might be a DOT rule when it comes to involuntary downgrade and % refund of the ticket, I’m not an expert on U.S. travel law but I am when it comes to EU261

    • The ticketing carrier applies here because the reader must go after that airline for the downgrade refund. Wouldn’t apply in case of EC 261/2004 obviously.