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Seeing red when Delta Air debited me twice for plane tickets

Booking a flight on a computer.
‘I dread to think what would have happened if I had ended up in the red when I don’t have an overdraft.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

I bought return flights with Delta Air to the US for my boyfriend and myself . The £1,047 cost was debited from my credit card within 24 hours. Four days later I discovered the available balance on my current account had decreased by a further £1,047.

My bank, HSBC, explained that this was a pending transaction to Delta Air, despite the fact that the fare had already left my account. Delta said I would have to ask HSBC to release the pending sum back to me. HSBC claimed that it was down to Delta.

Back to Delta, which then said funds would be automatically returned to me within seven working days. How can Delta take £2,094 when I only authorised £1,047.

I dread to think what would have happened if I had ended up going into the red when I don’t have an overdraft. As it is, I am struggling to manage money. EH, Bath

Delta professes itself baffled. After a four-week investigation by its technology team it decides that your bank must be to blame and apologises for any “misinformation along the way”.

“When the customer made the purchase, Delta requested an authorisation code from the bank and we received one code,” says a spokesperson. “This tells us that Delta only made one request. We can’t charge a card without a code, and if Delta had made two requests there would have had to have been two codes.”

Over to HSBC, which discovers that the sum Delta debited did not match that authorised by the bank. Although the airline requested £1,047, it split the transaction into two £523.50 payments, ie, the fare for each passenger. “As a result, the debits did not match the authorisation that we provided for the initial request from Delta Air, so that remained pending, affecting the available balance,” explains an HSBC spokesperson. “Although this was not caused by HSBC, we understand the concern and inconvenience this matter caused, and in recognition of this we have credited £50 to her account as a gesture of goodwill.” As for the £1,047, it has finally been released.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number.

This article titled "Seeing red when Delta Air debited me twice for plane tickets" was written by Anna Tims, for The Observer on Friday 19 May 2017 06.00am


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