Now they’ve added 2015 and 2016 blackout dates for Korean Air into their terms and conditions.
More than 30% of the year is blacked out for award travel.
Several things about this are curious.
- Why specific blackout dates are being published in the terms and conditions?
- Why they are being published now, when Delta is becoming less transparent in almost every other dimension (they haven’t published these in the past)?
- Why they aren’t publishing blackout dates for all partners where those exist at the same time. Publishing some, waiting a month, and publishing more seems strange — especially when they were known a month ago.
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 Imposes Blackout Dates for Travel on Korean Unnecessarily
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. These are blackout dates.
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.
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.