Delta Adds New Three Day Advance Purchase Requirement On Non-US/Canada Award Tickets

Delta SkyMiles has just added a major new restriction to booking international award tickets. Specifically, all award tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a new three day advance purchase requirement. Per the Delta SkyMiles terms & conditions:

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.

Ouch. That’s rough, especially since historically one of the best uses of miles is booking last minute travel. A good chunk of my award tickets are booked within a few days of departure, when award availability is often best.

For several years Delta SkyMiles has also had a restriction that you can’t cancel award tickets within 72 hours of departure, which has been annoying as well. So now you can’t cancel any award tickets within 72 hours of departure, and also can’t book any within that timeframe, unless it’s for travel to or from the United States or Canada.

On top of this, Delta SkyMiles recently expanded a rule requiring in-person ticketing for certain types of awards. Delta SkyMiles awards issued within 72 hours of departure for travel originating in China, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil, and any country in Africa, must be booked in-person at the airport.

It’s tough to keep track of all these restrictions, but now you won’t be able to book many awards within 72 hours of departure, and some that can be booked (for travel to the US or Canada) will need to be ticketed at the airport.

Keep in mind that all of this is being done without any sort of communication to members, so some people will be finding this out the hard way as they go to make last minute award bookings, only to find out that it’s no longer possible in some cases.

While many of these restrictions being added to last minute tickets are being done to combat fraud (primarily accounts being hacked), if that were the case you’d think they could add some exceptions, like if the member is the person traveling, if the member can verify certain information, etc.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. So that’s why BRU-SYD on China Airlines for 90k didn’t go through. Oh well. Ended up grabbing TG F for 130k AC.

  2. Sorry Delta, I don’t believe you.

    My bank has figured out how to protect my money from hackers. So has my credit card company….and just about every other single company I interact with.

    Placing a 72 hour restriction on award redemptions–particularly without any advanced notice–greatly reduces the value of the miles that people have earned ‘fair and square’ by flying on your planes and by using your credit cards.

    If fraud really is the issue, why don’t you use MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION for all award redemptions?

  3. @ORD Flyer
    It’s a pic of Virgin Australia’s business class, which can be booked through SkyPeso

  4. I’m sure there are millions of people every single day desperately trying to book a same-day Beijing-Paris via the super-premium Newark Airport on a United class-leading, 1995-manufactured 777 with its highly comfortable 8-across business class.

    I mean, we should have seen this coming. This really was one of the most pressing issues on United’s table.

  5. Whoops, I didn’t see it was Delta. But the same can be said for ATL, DTW and their 767s…

  6. Delta has the worst reputation among frequent flyers. It’s like they are actively working each year to come up with another way to make it even worse.

  7. It’s fascinating. I fly a lot, mostly long-haul J paid by my employer. You’d think I’d be one of the target markets for FF programmes.

    But the complexity and restrictions are already so burdensome that I simply don’t bother with any of it.

    I have about a million Avios just sitting there (from time to time I give them away as free gifts to someone willing to spend the time required to jump through all the hoops – usually friends’ kids). I have literally no idea how many Flying Blue points I have.

    It does make me wonder what the point of this game is. Have FF programmes had their day? Or am
    I a freak outlier (no need to answer that last question)?

    The sophisticated gaming that people write about on here to take advantage of arbitrage opportunities is, well, impressive. (Similarly the levels of complaint when airlines seek to close arbitrage opportunities!). But do FF programmes still attract business from one airline to another? For most people I do have my doubts.

  8. As a business traveler, you get much more out of status and recognition then with amard miles IMHO. I don’t travel as much now, but I used to fly long haul business/first every 1-2 months through Zurich and I would get tons of perks (gifts, pending of the rules…etc).

    The problem is it’s way to easy to get award miles these days. Look at AC with the paid only lounge in Toronto, Swiss with HON/SEN first award booking, etc. I think this actually makes sense since the prices for business class tickets has gone up so much in recent years that it doesn’t make sense anymore to treat everyone the same. They should either raise the cost of award tickets or keep giving more benefits to paid travelers. And this is coming from someone who racks up 3 million award miles a year…

  9. @ D — The picture is of a Virgin Australia plane, which is a Delta partner that could be impacted by this rule.

  10. this is INCREDIBLY disappointing.
    I booked a last-minute flight from SGN -> ICN -> ATL using 80k SkyMiles in O/biz two days prior to departure. in countries that Delta doesn’t serve (Indonesia / Vietnam etc), how would one book an award ticket at the airport? Through SkyTeam reservations at airports using SkyMiles?

  11. @ The Nice Paul: you are right in many ways. On UA you can get lucky on some routes but on others it can be challenging and I never use them for anything but vacation planned in advance.

  12. If DL wants to restrict this for security, why not limit close in (<72 hours) awards to the account holder (who has not changed address or email in x months so I scammer can't change that immediately) and anyone that the account holder purchased a ticket for y months ago (i.e. Spouse).

    Solves the security issue… if that was the issue.

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