a row of chairs in an airplane

It’s not a new thing, which makes it an annoying thing…

For travel enthusiasts, few moments rival the one where you find an incredible deal. You look, you jump with excitement, you make sure it’s not too good to be true, and then you rush to book. It’s simply wonderful. But when you consistently think you’ve found something brilliant, only to find out shortly that it’s nothing more than a common error, frustration begins to mount. For months now, Delta has incorrectly displayed prices for Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy, and enough is enough…

a white cell phone with a screen showing flight informationGoogle Flights

Google Flights is one of the easiest, handiest and best tools for scoring incredible flight deals. In fact, you should read up on how to use it like a master flight deal technician. Unfortunately, when you search Premium Economy flights on Google Flights, looks can be deceiving. That’s because Delta displays economy prices for Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy, and at no point during booking does it actually specifically tell you you’ve got the wrong deal. Let’s take a look..

You Search

Who doesn’t love sunny Los Angeles in the winter? Let’s say I want to book premium economy flights from London to LA, or vice versa. I enter my city pairs, the dates, premium economy, and voila – here’s what we get…a screenshot of a flightWhoah! $755USD is about £580, which is less than many people pay for economy. That instantly seems like a steal worth booking. And on top of that, every other airline is at least $300 more, which makes you think you’ve found a belter of a deal. Wrong. But how could you know? You click the flights, get it all pulled up, confirm that it says Premium Economy, and you think hmmm… maybe Delta has a special deal on partner flights with Virgin. So you click to book. a screenshot of a flight scheduleNext thing you know, you’ve landed on the Delta booking page (below) and are quite literally one click away from confirming your reservation. Does an error message pop up telling you that you’re about to book economy? No. Is there any legitimate way for someone to see that you’re booking economy, without speaking marketing speak? No. Could economy delight be Delta’s word for Premium Economy? How are you supposed to know. Nothing has warned you that you’re about to book economy, when you thought you were booking premium.a screenshot of an airplaneThe only potential way a non nerdy frequent traveler could realistically figure this out, is by seeing that there are upgrade offers below the purchase button. One for premium and one for Upper Class. But again – there’s no pop up warning, and economy delight sounds like it could easily be what some airline calls their premium economy – even though it’s definitely not.

A Delta Spokesperson has reached out with this comment from the airline…

Being an industry leader in bringing new products and fares to market, Delta and our partners have made multi-billion investments in onboard products and in making sure customers understand the clearly defined attributes of those products on our owned digital channels at every step of the shopping experience. But we also want Delta content to be available in the customer’s channel of choice in a consistent, transparent way, which means it’s time for third party displays, including Google Flights, to invest in the technology necessary to display the various products available in a way that ensures customers can view all their options clearly, just as Delta has on Delta.com. We recognize the limitations of the current experience on third-party sites may not be ideal, and are leading industry collaboration to ensure customers have access to all of Delta’s products, no matter where they shop. When in doubt, check delta.com.  

Annoying Filter

The annoying thing, is that unless you block out Virgin Atlantic and Delta, using the exclude these airlines button on Google Flights, you’re almost always going to see deals in Premium Economy that don’t actually exist. They’re simply economy delight deals, which Delta’s computers bring up as premium economy. In the end, it makes you book anyone but the two, just so you don’t see false results and get excited over prices that don’t exist. This has been going on for months, so it’s hard to think of an excuse for why it’s still happening on Delta’s side. At least you know.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Yup, I booked Delta One over the phone with a Virgin rep and somehow booking their upper class puts you in Premium Select with Delta. Went through quite a bit of frustration but in the end got it fixed. Delta openly admitted over the phone they have a problem with the Virgin codeshare. You’ve been warned, double check your bookings.

  2. I booked Premium Economy via Google then on to Delta’s website last year, £650rt UK-NYC vs £900 via Virgin. It booked under W as you have here, but it DID book into Premium. I actually ended up in UC going out. I wonder if this error has come about since Virgin changed from just Economy to having 3 levels of Economy?

  3. I have been denied boarding as a result of this problem. At LHR everything said to me I’m in premium economy including the VA site but then the ticket was issued as Economy Delight so they wanted me to pay for the difference. Both Delta and Virgin reps we’re unable to help me and I had to fly back in economy delight.

  4. Still waiting for compensation from delta for being over 7 hours late arriving in New York .we lost most of the first day of our holiday, and had to sit on the plane for nearly 2 hours in an Air Force base in Maine, USA while repair works were done. Then when we arrived in New York , jfk airport, we couldn’t leave the plane for over an hour because of further delays . Compensation had been agreed by letter , but then a few weeks later delta airlines had said they would not be paying us the compensation. Why?

  5. I had the same. ..missed my connecting flight because they were so late….sat in LAX airport all day…like 12 hours for another flight by DELTA to be organized….I fly 3 times a year this route alone..LAX is one of the rudest airports on the planet..by the way..Virgin and Delta have gone to CRAP…

  6. Also happens in reverse. I rang Virgin, booking the US internal flight at the same time – which was a Delta service.
    It was £50 cheaper than Delta’s website. I double checked I was main cabin and they confirmed it.

    Only when i went to check in my bag did Delta say – no you are in budget economy, no bags allowed.

    I rang Virgin, they admitted their system shows one class higher than Delta – and wanted an extra £750 to resolve the problem. I refused but offered the £50 I would have paid at the time of booking. After checking with a supervisor they admitted it was their error and made the change at no cost to me.

  7. 2 years and this still hasn’t changed.

    We spent all day trying to book and finally called the customer care (an hour long call) to figure this out but in the end they blamed it on Virgin’s codeshare issue. While I was on hold I came across this article in a search and realized what is going on here.

    Well, unfortunately, I have not had much luck getting the tickets and I can only hope that this gets fixed soon.

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