Delta SkyMiles has just added a major new restriction to booking international award tickets. Specifically, all award tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a new three day advance purchase requirement. Per the Delta SkyMiles terms & conditions:
Award Travel Ticketing Restrictions
Award Tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a three-day advance purchase requirement. This includes routes like Paris (CDG) connecting through New York City (JFK) to Sao Paulo (GRU), or Shanghai (PVG) to/from Tokyo (NRT). No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.
Ouch. That’s rough, especially since historically one of the best uses of miles is booking last minute travel. A good chunk of my award tickets are booked within a few days of departure, when award availability is often best.
For several years Delta SkyMiles has also had a restriction that you can’t cancel award tickets within 72 hours of departure, which has been annoying as well. So now you can’t cancel any award tickets within 72 hours of departure, and also can’t book any within that timeframe, unless it’s for travel to or from the United States or Canada.
On top of this, Delta SkyMiles recently expanded a rule requiring in-person ticketing for certain types of awards. 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.
It’s tough to keep track of all these restrictions, but now you won’t be able to book many awards within 72 hours of departure, and some that can be booked (for travel to the US or Canada) will need to be ticketed at the airport.
Keep in mind that all of this is being done without any sort of communication to members, so some people will be finding this out the hard way as they go to make last minute award bookings, only to find out that it’s no longer possible in some cases.
While many of these restrictions being added to last minute tickets are being done to combat fraud (primarily accounts being hacked), if that were the case you’d think they could add some exceptions, like if the member is the person traveling, if the member can verify certain information, etc.
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)