Delta’s ridiculous award travel policy change (and even worse justification)

Via Gary, Delta recently modified their award travel rules to now make awards non-changeable starting at 72 hours prior to departure.

Previously Delta allowed changes to be made even during travel for a change fee of $150 per passenger. While some airlines don’t allow any changes as soon as the first segment is flown, I could never quite rationalize that. Airlines can rake in a huge amount in change fees for letting people make changes during travel, so why leave the extra revenue on the table? I guess they just count on people booking expensive one way tickets when their plans change, without giving them any sort of a refund.

Anyway, not only is Delta no longer allowing changes to be made after departure, but as of August 15 they’re not allowing any award changes to be made less than 72 hours before departure. That means that within three days of the first segment on an itinerary, the entire amount of the ticket would be forfeited if canceled. Unbelievable, as if Delta miles weren’t already uncompetitive enough.

The problem here is twofold for consumers. First of all, it sucks to not be able to cancel within a few days of departure, since things can happen in life. Equally, though, lots of times airlines open up low level award space within a couple of days of departure. Now if that happens, those changes could no longer be made.

Even worse than the change itself is Delta’s justification, especially from one of Delta’s representatives on FlyerTalk. Two of my favorite excerpts are:

“This change will make those seats available to other members and ultimately increase award availability.”

“This policy change was not an easy decision but it was the right one.”

At least someone’s confident!

Filed Under: Awards, Delta
  1. I am not pleased at all. Even though I’m in ATL, this kind of crap makes it easier to justify a move to AA or UA/CO.

  2. This is ridiculous. Charge a change fee within 72 hours or whatever – even to Diamonds / Platinums. Some changes / cancellation can be needed due to emergencies – even though they said that such circumstances can be a waiver, I’d rather not chance the agent who I happen to connect with.

  3. This, combined with some recent incidents just serves as even more reason to avoid Delta, even though I am ATL based.

    @James: Unfortunately the best Star Alliance Schedule from Atlanta is by US Airways

  4. The FT thread (and Delta reps numbers) hints at upgrade/speculation abuse by top tier elites with free redeposits.
    Stupid way to combat fraud IMO, but perhaps Delta wanted to curb the process, but couldn’t be seen diluting elite benefits without affecting the lower level too.

  5. FYI, Ben, your interpretation is incorrect. After departure, you can make changes, they just must be at least 72 hours before the flight in question.

  6. Delta SkyPesos is a loyalty program that loves to hurl insults with their abusive practices. Is this the final straw that may make Hunter change his loyalty to UA or AA?

  7. Another reason I avoid Delta like the plague. Even when Delta is the lowest fare in the mrkt many times I go with another carrier because I don’t want Sky Pesos. I have no major problems with Delta the airline. It is their freq. flier program that SUCKS.

  8. Does this mean that they won’t allow you to Same-day-confirm onto another flight? Last year, Fiance and I had DCA-DTW-LAX in C before connecting internationally that I changed to DCA-JFK-LAX to take advantage of the transcon business elite.

  9. just got off the phone from the DL PM line…evidently there has been a ‘change’ to this policly. DM and PM still have the ability to cancel award reservations up to 72 ours out at no penalty. Now, within 72 hours instead of forfeiting ALL points, there is just a ‘change fee’ of $150 per ticket…..

  10. OUTRAGEOUS! This is disgustingly greedy and another example of a cheap corporate style…at least they’re consistent. I could never do business this way…

    There has been a steady erosion of quality and service on Delta for the last 5 years…

    This is the last straw for Delta. I am now finally moving to Virgin America, JetBlue and United, exclusively, for good.

    Somebody else can wipe off the dirt in my seat now…

    Enough is enough.

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