Delta has updated its terms and conditions to add specific blackout dates for using SkyMiles to book awards on two of its partner airlines.
What Are Blackout Dates?
Let’s be clear about terms:
- Blackout dates are specific days where you cannot use your miles.
- Capacity controls are where there are a limited number of seats on any given flight that can be redeemed as an award. The capacity might be set to zero.
So even where there are no formal dates with no awards permitted (blackout dates) there may still be dates where there are no awards available (capacity controls). Blackout dates are wholly unnecessary in a world with capacity controls.
Delta Has Blackout Dates on Partners Not Included in the Program Terms
Some programs like Korean Air’s Skypass have ‘high demand’ dates where awards cost more miles than usual. On those dates Korean does make award seats available, but Delta members don’t have access to those seats. There are blackout dates (interestingly, while new blackout dates appear in the terms and conditions, Korean Air blackout dates do not).
Delta actually goes to a greater extreme than necessary here — Korean designates different dates as ‘high demand’ for different regions of the world. Delta’s policy has been that any day that is high demand for any region is a blackout date for every region.
If you find award seats available on certain carriers on certain dates, you can’t book those seats with Delta miles because of blackout dates.
It’s great that Delta has chosen to publish what dates those are for two of their partners, even if it’s not great that those blackout dates exist.
It would be better, of course, if they similarly published blackout dates on other partner airlines as well.
Their promise in the terms, though, that “[t]here are no blackout dates on Delta-operated flights” is meaningless because Delta simply makes category 5 awards available on those dates — and then charges whatever price they wish because they no longer publish award charts.