Delta Imposing New 3 Day Advance Purchase Rule For Award Tickets Outside US/Canada

Update: Delta says this was an error and they’ve reverted back to their earlier terms and conditions.

Back in July Delta began requiring SkyMiles members to go to the airport to purchase award tickets within 72 hours of travel when originating in China, Russia, and any country in Africa.

Last month Delta expanded this restriction to include Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Brazil. In total customers originating travel in 60 countries couldn’t book awards within 3 days of departure without going to the airport to ticket.

Now it’s even worse. Delta has updated their terms and conditions again. Now there’s a 3 day advance purchase requirement (you can’t get out of it with airport ticketing) and the restriction applies to all awards that do not start or end in the U.S. or Canada.

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.

This isn’t just a change without advance notice, it’s a change without any notice at all, because Delta alters its terms and conditions and doesn’t even tell members they’ve done so.

It was one thing when Delta said, in essence, ‘look much of the fraud we face originates in China and Africa, and Russia so we’re going to inconvenience our members but it saves us money.’

Delta is a global airline. They have major investments in Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico, Gol, Air France KLM, and China Eastern. They have customers around the world, for instance they’re building up their presence in Shanghai and those customers fly from Shanghai to destinations in Asia not just to the United States.

Delta won’t let you make changes to awards within 72 hours of travel, but often that’s when the best award space opens, so it’s common to book travel close-in. It’s also common to book an outbound, and wait to book the return. Or to get sick abroad, and need to book a new ticket home later than planned. Your SkyMiles are no longer good for this unless you are flying to or from the U.S. or Canada.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Running a loyalty program like a treachery program is Simply Good Business.

    You can’t let customers just exploit a sweet spot. A well-run company needs to pull away the football before the customer can kick it.

  2. Can we all boycott Delta? They need to understand how stupid they are with these changes, otherwise they get away with it. I am sick of these changes.

  3. I am so done with Delta and their skypesos. It’s the biggest waste of time mileage program in the industry. Delta management just keeps moving the goal post further and further. Soon you’ll need a million miles for a domestic award ticket.

  4. Suddenly we all just realized that Delta isn’t a good company to do business with?
    That their integrity and fairness could ever might ever be brought into question?
    That they make policies difficult for their customers and rip off their customers with 300k to 500k one way awards
    Shocking I don’t believe a word of any of this

  5. Kirby and Parker must be kicking themselves that they didn’t think of it first. No wait, never mind, they never do anything until Delta shows them how.

  6. Feel bad for people in ATL area. After AS & DL divorced, I haven’t touched anything with DL, LOL

  7. Someone needs to get a congressman to write a bill so we can redeem SkyPesos for cash back from Delta because the program is useless.

  8. I was planning to call this week to ask about Kenya Airways award availability from Jo’burg to Addis. Hopefully I can use up all my Skypesos this year and kiss them goodbye.

    It’s one thing to be pro-active in combatting fraud; it’s another to deploy deceptive policy changes so as to deny awards and thereby prevent members from obtaining award tickets because an astute bean counter determined how the company could hold on to more beans.

  9. Friends don’t let friends credit to SkyPesos! The word on the street has been out for a long time. SkyPesos are as bad as Zimbabwe dollars. Spend them as fast as you can because you know they will be worth less (worthless?) tomorrow.

  10. Everybody is insulting the Peso by comparing it to Delta’s points. The Peso has a fixed value (more or less) and can be exchanged for US Dollars. Delta’s currency is more like the Ukrainian Hryvnia. Did you ever try working with that currency outside of Ukraine? I am still a member of Delta’s FF program because they have the rare sweet spot. But I would never apply for their affiliated credit cards or (God forbid) buy any Delta SkyHryvnia!

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