Delta Will No Longer Hold Awards On Telephone Bookings

Delta will no longer allow Skymiles members (at least those members in the U.S.) to hold awards over the phone. If you book by phone, you have to ticket immediately. And booking over the phone just became more limited, as non-elites can only make telephone award reservations between 8am and 10pm Eastern.

Holding awards for 48 hours is still possible online. Awards on Delta as well as parter airlines Hawaiian, Alaska, Continental, and Northwest are bookable online.. sort of, sometimes, when the website works and prices out awards correctly.

Of course, that means that awards on other partners like Air France, Aeroflot, and Korean cannot be held at all.

This is a really annoying change. Finding awards can be challenging at times. Sometimes it takes humans because the online technology is lacking. You find flights that may work after a long time on the phone. You’ve annoyed the agent, making them do so much digging for you. And you just can’t push them any farther. So you put the award on hold, and then try to improve what you’ve held. No longer possible with Delta.

Several carriers have shortened their hold times in recent years. I remember when United offered 30-day holds on awards, and it was pretty easy to get an agent to extend the hold after that. Then they went to 14-day holds. Then 3-day holds. And then any United award itinerary with a Singapore Airlines segment in it could only be held 24 hours. And then the list was expanded to include Asiana, or so I was told on a reservation this month.

But holds are important, as you coordinate flights with award hotels. Or in my case as I find an acceptable itinerary and try to turn it into a desireable one. I’m currently on a wonderful trip that would never have been possible without several phone agents and award holds.

I mean, come on, bring back the 48 hour hold. This is just punitive, Delta!

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. This is terrible. I’m boycotting any award travel on Delta. Oh, wait, that’s what they want….

  2. Hard to see how this move truly saves the airline any money. 48 hours holds are very useful for the reasons you mention. Over the years, there have been so many times where I’ve found it useful to “lock in” what I found and call back to get a “fresh” agent — especially after doing more research to see what alternatives might exist.

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