Delta Institutes Strict 72 Hour Award Change/Cancel Rule

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Yesterday, while enjoying my day in scorching hot Las Vegas, I got a very unpleasant email from Delta. Basically,  as of August 15, 2011, you can no longer change award tickets within 72 hours of departure. This even applies to Platinum and Diamond Medallions, who can change award tickets for free- but are now locked in like everyone else within 72 hours of departure.

This is a huge devaluation of Delta miles. With this new rule, if 48 hours of your award flight a family member dies, you can no longer make a change – you will lose the entire award. Same thing if you are on vacation and need to come home a day earlier. If you are within 3 days of the end of your trip, you will have to let your return trip expire and go unused and then book a new award. And remember – Delta does not allow one-way awards, so it’s not like you can even burn a small amount of miles to get a one-way flight- you’d need to redeem at the roundtrip level.

As many of you know, I’m a Delta Diamond and while I realize the program has major flaws, there have always been ways to get around them. For example, we all know Delta is the worst with low level award availability. However, you’ve always been able to book a flight at the medium/high award level and then rebook the flight in the couple days leading up until departure when they finally release low level space. With this new change, even if low level award space opens up a day or two before a flight, you are locked in at your higher level (which I believe is the real reason why this crazy rule is being instituted). Or if you booked a round-about routing just to get a low level award, you can’t switch to the non-stop if it opens up – especially for international flights because Delta does not allow same-day confirmed changes on any itinerary with an international flight. All around, these are bad changes for anyone with Delta miles.

So I highly recommend letting Delta know that you are not happy with this new customer-unfriendly rule. You can send an email here and I also recommend sending them a tweet, since Delta is probably the most active airline in social media. As with all airline complaint emails – be short and to the point.

I truly feel like this is a boneheaded move on Delta’s part and I hope that they receive enough negative responses (especially from top tier elites) and revise the rules. No other US airline has such a ridiculous policy and in fact most others have gotten more generous when it comes to award ticket changes. If Delta is concerned about people making award reservations and then not flying them, they can simply make a rule that any award unflown will be forfeited. That way, these alleged rogue award bookers who don’t show up for their flights and don’t cancel them, will lose their miles.

What are your thoughts on this new rule?

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