Reporting Kurtis Ming
It’s hard to describe becoming a grandmother, but that doesn’t stop Cindy Ingraham from trying.
“It’s just …” she said, pausing in thought.
“[It's] the most awesome feeling in the world,” she said, continuing with a smile.
But Delta Air Lines hasn’t been so understanding of grandson Easton’s early arrival.
“You just don’t think you’re gonna get screwed over like that,” said Ingraham when interviewed by CBS Sacramento.
Ingraham lives in Virginia and initially booked a trip to fly to Sacramento this week, around Easton’s original due date.
She tried to move up her flight when Easton was born early, but Delta wanted $500 dollars more, she said.
So, instead, Ingraham got on a different flight, for less, thinking it was her most affordable option.
She had no idea she might be stuck in Sacramento without a flight home until Delta told her how their system works: If she missed the original flight from Virginia, which she would, the airline would cancel her return ticket as well.
“It was the farthest thing from my mind to have that happen,” Ingraham said.
Most airlines now have policies, often dubbed “Contract of Carriage,” which prevent passengers from using only parts of round-trip tickets for one-way travel.
For example, a round trip to Chicago with a layover in Denver could actually be a cheaper way to fly to Denver than booking a round trip there.
It’s called “throwaway ticketing” in the industry, according to travel attorney Al Anolik.
“That’s usually when somebody deliberately does this because it’s cheaper,” he said of the practice.
But speaking about Ingraham’s situation, Anolik clarified: “That’s not what you had for this poor passenger.”
Never expecting her grandson to come early, Ingraham wanted Delta to let her fly back.
Delta told CBS Sacramento: “Delta has apologized for any confusion regarding this matter and we are working directly with the customer to resolve it.”
Later on, the company agreed to waive Ingraham’s change fees and let her fly home on the same flight she initially booked.
“It’s great,” she said. “Delta did what you would think what they would do in the first place.”
So how can you get around the “throwaway ticketing” policy?
Most airlines charge the same way, whether you book two one-way tickets or a round trip.
“Any time you can get two one ways that are the same cost, you should do it,” said Anolik. “You don’t know about what kind of emergencies could arise.”
Booking a trip in two transactions rather than one takes a few extra clicks, but could save trouble later on, in the event a customer needs to change or cancel his or her first flight.
And before she flies back home, Ingraham said she’d be soaking up the hours with her 7-day-old grandson.
“He’s a blessing,” she said. “He’s such a sweetie.”