It looks like a few frequent flyer programs have been seeing an increase in fraud lately, especially as it relates to last minute award tickets. Presumably this involves people either selling seats for last minute award travel, or otherwise people hacking into frequent flyer accounts in order to book last minute award tickets, when travel is so soon that the accountholder is unlikely to catch on before travel has been completed.
We’ve seen Alaska Mileage Plan add a restriction for award travel on Cathay Pacific, Hainan, and Japan Airlines. Specifically, award tickets for intra-Asia flights are no longer bookable within 72 hours of departure (initially the rule applied to all travel on those airlines within 72 hours of departure, but the airline quickly updated their policy, realizing how much that reduced the value of the Mileage Plan program).
I’ve also written about how Delta’s website seems to be blocking many award redemptions for travel within seven days of departure. Those awards are still mostly bookable by phone, so I’m not sure how much of that is just intended to save costs rather than to prevent fraud.
It looks like Delta has now expanded another restriction on last minute bookings. Delta SkyMiles awards issued within 72 hours of departure for travel originating in China, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil, and any country in Africa, must be booked in-person at the airport. This is per the Delta SkyMiles terms & conditions:
Award Tickets purchased for travel within or originating in China, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil and any country in Africa require a 72-hour advance purchase. Members desiring travel within or originating in these markets within 72 hours must go to the airport to purchase their ticket, including reissues. No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.
I can see where Delta is coming from here, but what I really take issue with (assuming fraud is the concern) is that they don’t make an exception if you’re ticketing an award for the accountholder. It’s not like someone will hack into an account and then book an award for the person who owns the account.
The further practical issue here is that Delta doesn’t allow award holds, and Delta doesn’t fly to a vast majority of these places. So if you’re in Bali and want to book an award home within 72 hours of departure, are you supposed to fly to the Delta check-in desk in Singapore (and hope the availability is still there when you land, because you can’t hold awards) and travel from there?
Like I said, I see where they’re coming from, but this is unnecessarily restrictive, assuming the concern is fraud.
Just another restriction of SkyMiles to be aware of…
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)