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How Googling an airline almost cost this family $450

I do it daily. Sometimes more than I should. When before I would give Mum a call and ask her the recipe for her amazing banana bread, or spend hours arguing with a friend about the lyrics to The Walrus, I now just turn to Google.


But while Google may have all the answers, some of those answers may not be entirely helpful.



Naomi Poel and her husband Hunter Pulaski turned to Google when their 10.15am Delta flight to Japan would be delayed. 


"We were travelling with a 2-year-old, so we were panicking,"Poel told USA Today in a phone interview. 


The Michigan parents were concerned that the delay would cause them to miss a connecting flight and that the small family would be split up on the flight. 


So they fired up Google, and happened upon a site they thought belonged to Delta Airlines.


"Unfortunately, doing a Google search is not always going to get you a good result," Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan communications manager Troy Baker told USA Today.


While Baker said the website that imitated Delta did look authentic with the first words on the site saying, ‘We, at Delta Air Lines’, there were red flags.


According to Baker, the site used a picture of an airplane without a Delta logo. And then the wording at the bottom in the ‘About Us’ section used lyrics from ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley’.


"As a consumer, if I saw that I would run," Mr Baker said.


Poel says they found the imposter site as it appeared at the top of a Google search and were asked to pay an extra US$300 (AU$450) to change their flight. They went to the airport that day and went to the Delta desk. It was then that they were alerted to the fact that the site they thought was Delta’s wasn’t. 


The real Delta Airlines not only informed the couple that the airline would have rebooked their tickets for free, but worked with the third party site to refund the money to Poel and her husband. 


"We're seeing a lot more of this type of thing," Baker warned. 


"A typical scammer isn't going to give you that refund."


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Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 6 August 2019

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