Delta devalues same day confirmed flight change policy

Delta has just announced that they’ll be changing their same day confirmed change policy starting April 23, 2013.

Previously Gold Medallion members and above could change to any flight the same day as their originally ticketed reservation as long as it was within three hours of the new departure time and there was availability.

Now they’re changing that policy in two ways. First, the originally ticketed fare class has to be available in order to make a same day change. Second, you can only change to a flight that’s within three hours (either before or after) of your originally scheduled flight.

There’s no doubt Delta’s same day confirmed change policy was generous, and it was actually something that set them apart from the competition and added value to their program. I’d say this is a pretty big devaluation, though I can also understand why they made this change. There’s no doubt people were booking cheaper flights during times they weren’t planning on traveling, and counting on changing to a different flight day of given how easy it was to make the changes. So while I can see why they’d make this change, it’s still rather disappointing.

Comments

  1. This really screws me over for my return flight from FTU DC … I booked an afternoon flight that was cheapest with the intent to SDC to an earlier flight/routing. It will be likely impossible to do so now.

  2. @Amol: Delta said they will honor the old rules for those with previously booked tickets.

    @Lucky: Do you think UA will soon change their extremely generous sdc rules?

  3. @ Matthew — That’s a great question. I’m sure they’ll “enhance” their policy eventually since they’re by far the most generous as of now with SDC. But I doubt it will be immediate, more likely as part of larger future program changes.

  4. On the bottom of the linked page, under the April 23 section, it says the following that seems to contradict what Lucky’s reply to Amol suggests:

    “The same-day confirmed program is subject to change and the rules in effect on the date of travel will apply, regardless of the date of ticket purchase.”

  5. They’re basically merging the most restrictive aspects of NW’s old policy (class of service) and DL’s system (3 hours). But I would note that in most markets I found it extraordinarily difficult to count on space 3 hours out and I am amazed people really were able to play games using this policy because of how often flights were zeroed out at the three hour mark. They are taking something virtually unusable and now making it even harder to use.

    But I am always amazed to the extent people work to game the system, as per the comments. In that light, I’m sure DL decided they were passing up revenue and turned the screws.

  6. @bill: The fare rules when booked govern, as that’s part of the contract. They have to let you change to another flight within three hours of departure of that flight if it’s Y1 based on those. The DL rep on FlyerTalk has confirmed this. However, he has not yet answered my question about if they will still waive the $50 fee for GM/PM/DM. I suspect that they won’t do that, since that’s not actually in the fare rules.

  7. Great. So now you get to the airport early to avoid having to run between Terminal D and Terminal A when your Delta flight is ALWAYS late, and they tell you to sod off. Way to anger your business flyers, Delta!

  8. Looks to me like they are more closely matching the current UA policy. Though there isn’t a 3 hr time limit on UA. It works fine for me in general and you can always just go to the airport and standby for free when you can’t confirm ahead of time.

  9. Lucky, you say “There’s no doubt Delta’s same day confirmed change policy was generous…” How in the world is only being able to change +/- 3 hours generous? 3 hours is super restrictive in my book. Depending on the route, the possibility exists that there isn’t even a scheduled flight within three hours, making a change impossible.

    Even US Airways has a 6 hour policy, and that’s what they devalued it to (it previously was anytime the same day).

  10. @Andrew: I think you misunderstand the current (soon to be old) Delta policy, based on your use of +/-. The current policy allows you to change to any flight on the day of travel, but you can only do so three hours before it takes off. Booked on the 2200 SFO-ATL? You can call at 0300 to get on the 0600 if it’s Y1. That’s where it’s more generous than AA or UA. Now it will become perhaps the least generous, as you will have to have same booking class like UA but will also only be able to do it for free as a mid-tier or higher elite if you’re moving to a flight that departs within three hours either way of your original flight. The old policy was great for getting an earlier flight, a bit pretty bad for a later flight, since you couldn’t switch to the red-eye in the morning. The new policy is just awful all around.

  11. This is really a horrible change. In the past I’ve had later flights based on a full day’s schedule, seen everything get canceled from my work and been able to wake up at 3am to get an empty 6am flight home. That is gone, along with any ability to give my family certainty about when I will return in time for them to adjust their day to accomodate any extra time I have with them.

    Nice going Delta. As soon as you start to turn it around, your inner customer hater comes out.

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