My wife, Bonnie Anderson, sky miles number 2031132810 started looking for flights for our family from SFO to Harrisburg, PA departing June 29 returning July 3 around February 20. It was complicated because we were coordinating the trip with our son, Matthew Price, and his family.
She looked at flights several times and finally was ready to book them on March 4 because Matt booked tickets for his family the night before in Delta Comfort and we wanted seats together. He booked June 29th flight 62 departing SFO at 6:15 am connecting to flight 1238 through Atlanta. Returning on flight 1235 departing at 12:10 on July 3rd connecting through Atlanta to flight 2381. (from the time he booked his flight to the next morning, the flight from MDT to ATL was actually changed to a different flight number and when the flight number was changed, they did not assign him new seats - this complaint can wait for another time but we had to call back several times to get his seats confirmed).
ALL OF THESE FLIGHTS were totally wide open. Perhaps less than 15 seats had been booked so we were excited to get this done early and benefit from good fares. If memory serves it seemed to Bonnie the price for the flights increased every time she logged on to search and consider the merits of all of the options to get us from San Francisco to Harrisburg. She saved several itineraries that were one stop to Harrisburg as that seemed to be the best option.
At first the round trip fare for delta comfort was around $700, when Matt booked his tickets on March 3 it was around $800, but the next morning when she was ready to book our flights, the price had increased to over $1,400 each. She called an agent at the delta platinum line ( I am diamond and Bonnie is platinum, diamond last year) and inquired about using a companion ticket from AMEX since we get these "free" tickets each year. She was told that we could not use the companion tickets because there were no seats available in that category - we've tried to use the companion tickets which we both get for three years but there are never seats available, but that's a complaint for another day. The ONLY flights we could have used would have gotten us in to our destination at midnight or we would have had to fly on a redeye, neither which would work for our family with children.
While bonnie was on the line to the agent I logged on to Delta using my own sky miles account and searched for the same flights. Much to my surprise the fare was a little over $900 at the same time she saw over $1,400 - a difference of $500 each. We booked delta comfort seats for the two of us while I was logged in. My question to you - why would two frequent flyer members who are logged on at the same time be quoted such different fares on wide open flights?
Bonnie is convinced delta is using machine learning algorithms to identify flights she is most likely to desire due to her history of searching and saving in order to increase the quoted fare over the seach period in order to push her to buy the flights early. What other explanation could there be? She came within 1 click of buying the same flights, booking the same exact seats but at a price of $500 more per person just to get on her son's flights....and I was able to duplicate the fare Matt had paid the night before. This is a horrible practice and one that is screwing your best customers.
All of this detail and history is available and would prove something fishy was happening. We believe this could be a predatory practice which is totally illegal.
Product or Service Mentioned: Delta Airlines Flight Booking.
Reason of review: Pricing issue.
Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution.