Delta SkyMiles international award tickets now carry a draconian new restriction: they must booked at least three days in advance if they do not start or end in the U.S. or Canada. Is this a legitimate fraud protection or stealth devaluation?
To answer the question at the outset, it’s both. More on that in a moment.
Delta SkyMiles T&Cs now state–
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.
First point – this change in policy was never communicated to customers. Instead, Delta simply began blocking all the awards outlined above. If you search for this award space on delta.com, you will encounter search results indicating no space.
This is on top of recent rules that impose a three-day advance purchase limit and require in-person ticketing for all award travel originating in:
- Any country in Africa
Award Tickets purchased for travel within or originating in China, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil and any country in Africa require a 72-hour advance purchase. Members desiring travel within or originating in these markets within 72 hours must go to the airport to purchase their ticket, including reissues. No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.
So to sumarize:
- Award Tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a three-day advance purchase requirement
- All Award Tickets cannot be cancelled within 72 hours of departure
- Award Tickets originating in the countries listed above have a three-day advance purchase requirement
- Award Tickets originating in the countries listed above require in-person at airports
This is a Devaluation
The sad thing is that the best award space often opens within 72 hours of departure.
Make no mistake, this is a devaluation. The question is, does this policy change represent legitimate fraud protection or merely a ruse to save money on partner awards?
While it would not surprise me a bit to learn that revenue reasons were the primary driver for this policy change, fraud is a very real thing. I’ve seen it many times with Award Expert clients. It happens and needs to be addressed.
Even so, these rules may carry a disproportionate burden to address the harm. The better alternative would be through two-factor authentication or the use of blockchain technology.
Of course hat requires a substantial investment…
I believe Delta at least could have exempted tickets in which the member is traveling.
This news is a major bummer for travelers looking to redeem SkyMiles outside U.S. and Canadian markets. Delta’s “take no prisoners” approach to combating fraud may well work, but also throws out the baby with the bathwater. Consequently, your SkyMiles are now worth less.
(H/T View from the Wing)