Can an airline send a debt collector after you to pay for a missed flight?

Strangely, the answer is: yes.

Consider what happened to Eehern Wong, who was scheduled to fly from Sacramento, Calif., to Boston by way of Los Angeles.

When I went to check the status of my flight, I noticed that the itinerary had been shifted up by nearly half a day. In fact, by the time I checked on the flight, the plane had already left Sacramento and was already landing in Los Angeles.

At no point was I contacted and notified of a change in scheduling. I called Delta to see if they could put me on the next flight, and after being redirected a few times, found out that not only would I be unable to get put on the next flight, but would actually have to pay for a new ticket a day later for my trip back to Boston.

I am a student right now, and this seemed outrageous to me. I had class and prior obligations and needed to get back, so I paid for the flight with my credit card. After returning to Boston, I contacted my credit card company, recounted the story, and had them investigate on my behalf.

After a few months of investigations, they sided with me, citing that Delta provided insufficient evidence, and withdrew payment to Delta. Now Delta has contacted a collection agency to force me to repay. What can I do about this?

Continue reading on

Comments by other travellers

The airline needs to get its priorities straight and get a life. Write the collection agency a "drop dead" letter via certified mail(with a return receipt green card attached to the back of your letter). Here is a sample as found on consumer advocate Clark Howard's site


RE: (case # or debit memo #)

To Whom It May Concern at ___________________:

I have been contacted by your company about a debt you allege I owe. I am instructing you not to contact me further in connection with this alleged debt. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law, you may not contact me further once I have notified you not to do so. This is your notification.



(Account No.)



Best of luck!


Ann Lombardi, longtime travel consultant/tour guide

"The Trip Chicks"

Atlanta, GA.

P.S. Doesn't make you feel any better but Delta once sent our travel agency a $900 debit memo for new flights the AIRLINES rebooked for our Europe-bound clients. The ridiculous reason? Delta Airlines oversold its original nonstop flight to Europe and then "protected" our clients on connecting flights to their original European destination. And that allegedly made the travel agency liable for the fare difference? Totally nuts!

Post a comment

I want to
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?

About this author

  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

Also by this author

Latest travel blog posts