Rumor: Delta About to Make Changes to Same Day Confirmed Policy

by on March 28, 2013 · 36 comments

in Delta

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Delta’s Same Day Confirmed policy is one of the reasons I strive to maintain Gold or higher status every year- you can change to a different flight within 3 hours of departure as long as they are selling at least 1 seat in your ticketed class of service. I’ve confirmed onto flights that had 100 person standby lists because there was 1 full-fare ticket still available for sale. I’ve SDC’d to connecting flights to rack up more miles and on many occasions I’ve been able to SDC onto flights that had first class available, which saved me from flying in coach (the horror!)

However, there’s been a lot of chatter lately about a potential change to this program  Flyertalker AndyMo99 talked to a Delta insider who shared the following info (note this is not confirmed and I reached out to my Delta rep who said “no announcements have been made”):

  • The desired flight must have availability in the originally ticketed fare bucket, not just the same cabin of service.
  • Fee waiver for GM/PM/DM only applies if the desired new flight is within 3 hours (before/after) the ticketed flight. Otherwise, $50 fee applies.
  • The SDC request must be made before the departure time and on the same day as the ticketed flight. (You don’t have to wait until 3 hours before the desired flight.) With redeye flights, it can be on the same day or the prior day.

Some additional comments:

  • If on a redeye (say a 1am departure), you can move to any time the prior day.
  • You can SDC a single ticket multiple times. I can foresee GM/PM/DM doing this repeatedly to change a 5pm departure to 6am without paying the $50 fee for >3 hours.
  • Still not allowed on int’l itins.

There is a new option of “paid standby” being rolled out at the same time:

  • $50 fee, waived for GM/PM/DM.
  • The standby request must be made before the departure time and on the same day as the ticketed flight. With redeye flights, it can be on the same day or the prior day.
  • No change to routing allowed (eg connecting to nonstop)
  • Only allowed for earlier flights than ticketed, with exception for GM/PM/DM.
  • If you don’t clear the standby, you roll to the next flight.
  • There has to be availability in the same CABIN as ticketed, not just the same fare bucket.

The originally ticketed fare class would be a major blow to the program. If you buy cheap fares, the chances of a cheaper fare classes decreases greatly in the hours leading up to the flight. I just pulled up today’s remaining LGA-ATL flights on Expertflyer and T fares were only available on one of 6 flights. Right now you’d be able to change to any of the current flights no matter what your fare class, but with the new program you’d have only 1 option (the latest flight) if you bought a T fare.

Laguardia- Atlanta current fare availability

Laguardia- Atlanta current fare availability

The changes are allegedly being announced April 16, 2013 so we will have to wait and see what, if anything, changes, but they don’t look good. As a reminder, here are some of the other airline policies for same day flight changes.

Current Policies
Air Canada:  Same-day confirmed change at the airport is permitted to either an earlier or later flight on the same itinerary for a charge of $75 (Cdn) for passengers holding either an Economy or Executive cabin confirmed Aeroplan ClassicFlight or ClassicPlus flight reward on Air Canada and/or Air Canada Jazz. Same-day changes are subject to availability. Same-day standby at the airport is permitted for earlier flights within North America-free of charge-for passengers holding a confirmed Aeroplan seat on Air Canada and/or Air Canada Jazz in the Executive cabin only. Departure and arrival cities must be the same as the confirmed flight. Same-day standby must be requested at the departure city, once the member has checked in for a confirmed flight.

AirTran: $25 per segment. Customers may reserve a confirmed seat on an earlier flight to the same destination. Or, customers have the option to standby for another flight to the same destination at no charge. These options are only available at the airport on the day of travel.

American: $75 for a confirmed change for everyone.  The alternate flights must be for your same itinerary and your flight change can only be confirmed within 12 hours of departure of the desired flight and subject to availability that only phone agents can see (does not correspond to any available fare classes). Standby is free for Elite members (any level), Active U.S. Military personnel traveling on orders or personal travel, oneworld® Alliance Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby members, Customers flying on the same reservation as an American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum or AAdvantage Gold member or oneworld Alliance Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby member regardless of frequent flier status or fare type , AAirpass® members, First and Business Class MileSAAver® or AAnytime® Awards.

Delta: Free for Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallions, but not their companions. $50 for everyone else.  You canc hange from a connection flight to a nonstop/direct flight within 3 hours of the flight you want to switch to. So if you have an 8am flight and want to take an 8pm flight, that’s okay, but you have to wait until 5pm and hope there is still Y availability at that time. You cannot SDC on domestic legs of an international itinerary and a $150 fee applies to restricted Delta Shuttle fares requiring changes outside of the SDC window. You can SDC on award tickets. Standby is only for Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallions.

JetBlue: $40. You can confirm to a new flight beginning at midnight (in the time zone of the departing flight) of the same calendar day as your original scheduled flight. You must travel on an earlier or later flight the same-day. You must travel between the same city pairs.

Southwest: You pay the difference in fare for the flight you want to switch to. No official same day change program.

United: Free for 1k, Platinum and Gold, $75 for non elite/silver. The same-day flight change option will be available within 24 hours before your originally scheduled flight. The requested flight can be in any fare class and be departing within 24 hours from the time the request is made. Changes must be made prior to your original scheduled flight.

US Airways: “Move Up” to any earlier flight on the same day of your originally scheduled departure time at the airport (with the exception of flights to Hawaii and Europe). You can only make day-of-departure changes at the airport (and not by calling Reservations).
If there are open seats, you can automatically confirm your reservation for $50 for flights within the 48 contiguous United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada and Alaska. Standby is free if there are no confirmable seats available.

Virgin America: $25-$50 depending on flight length. On the day of departure, if you are at the airport and there are seats available on your desired flight, you can confirm a change for a fee on an earlier or later flight. Long Haul Flights (such as New York to San Francisco) – $50. Medium Haul Flights (such as Los Angeles to Seattle) – $35. Short Haul Flights (such as San Francisco to Las Vegas) – $25.
If there are seats available on your desired flight you may also standby for no fee, however, this is not a guaranteed seat. In either case, the change must be done at the airport prior to your scheduled flight.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Tom

    Probably accurate. Delta is trying their best to ruin their program, and they’re succeeding wonderfully.

  • GreenHawkIA

    Note that US waives the Move Up fee for preferreds (actually $75 domestic/$150 international) and technically has a 6 hour limit (plus a stop restriction, as well). I’ve never seen the latter two enforced, though:

  • Cory

    This seems like a strange kind of move to me. Maybe I just don’t understand the rationale or the issue this policy change would fix. I have only ever used that perk once in my life so I could push a flight back a few hours so I would cross paths with a friend for dinner at ATL. It seems a very simple perk for elites that you wouldn’t think would need fixing.

    Is this causing DL some revenue loss or headaches in managing or something? What am I missing?

  • thepointsguy

    They clearly $ee this a$ a revenue opportunity

  • Wandering Aramean

    United requires the same fare bucket to be available for SDC.

  • Michel

    I’ve tried that on United but they have told me more than once that there is no fee, however if not if my fare class I have to pay difference which is usually pretty steep and I’m Platinum with them.

  • Josh J

    I’ve seen the 6 hour limit enforced in December. I was at Logan on BOS//DCA Shuttle and was denied the Move Up.

  • Cory

    I guess since I only used it the once and viewed it as more a convenience than necessity I didn’t understand that. But, this is another clear sign to me that worrying about maintaining elite status is going to be a waste of my time and money.

  • Mehul

    I agree that the only reason could be for the revenue, If they are looking at the number of current changes and expecting that a high percentage of those changes would be made if there was a fee, I think they are mistaken. I have changed many time using the SDC for United (a great program), but if there were a >$25 fee I can’t imagine using it more that 10% of the times I have in the past. And even that would be if I had my AMEX Plat $200 airline fee to offset that cost…

  • MidCentModFan

    United absolutely requires the same fare class for a SDC. Their Web site shows you only select flights, rather than any flights with open seats, when you request a SDC.

  • curhan88

    Isn’t there a benefit, now you can call anytime to book the flight if the fare is available? For example, I recently had to wake up at 4am to try to SDC to a 7am flight and then was unable to get on it. Would have been a lot happier calling at midnight finding out no, and then sleeping through the night.

  • The Gnome

    This is actually good news for some of us who fly standby and try rely on predictions of available seats. Not everyone gets enough miles to be “elite” so its nice that some of these changes help others. Nothing worse than a ton of people showing up to a flight you are trying to get on just because they got to the airport 20 minutes early and want to jump on last minute. (and yes, I realize those are paying passengers but hey, my wife is a pilot and I have to be able to use the perks of standby once in a while in a day and age when flights are overbooked)

  • kas

    as a business traveler, it’s very helpful to SDC. especially when a meeting ends earlier then expected – SDC allows you to switch to an earlier flight with no hassle/additional charges. this will be a real loss.

  • AKold

    Do you see any major differences between UA and the new DL SDC? Seems similar now… I liked the DL one, 3 hours was the limit but any fare class made it easy to change from cheap fares.

    Edit: just saw that DL new policy still requires new flight to be within 3 hours for fee waiver. UA doesn’t require that …

  • mark marsiglio

    I often wondered why they don’t make this benefit available to everyone for free (maybe within 2 hours of departure to give elites dibs) as it only takes the agents 45 seconds to make the change and reissue the ticket. Clearly, there is value to the passenger even if the cost to the carrier seems low (I assume very few new tickets are sold within 3 hours of departure).

    BTW – I am commenting from Gogo on a flight I used SDC to get just a few hours ago :)

  • Mr. Mark

    Some suggest that like the new MQD requirement, these changes to the SDC policy are to prevent people from “gaming the system.” Now I’m not one to suggest that gaining elite status on the cheap is gaming anything, nor is using its benefits strategically. However, if ever there was a system to game flying DL, SDC was it!

    My favorite two examples (and yes, I’m guilty of both…)

    1. Buying a reasonably cheap A or P fare JFK-SLC-LAX for under $600, and SDCing to a BE-equipped and serviced JFK-LAX direct flight (typically cost: $2,000.)

    2, Buying the cheapest LGA-XXX-LAX routing, where only the XXX-LAX is in comfirmed first (again, usually A or P class) and then switching to LGA-ATL-LAX to fly lie-flat on a 777.

  • Greg

    Though United opens up all fare buckets if a cabin isn’t oversold at 3 hours prior to departure, so it’s effectively 3 hour change to any seat in the paid cabin, 24 hour change to fare bucket in the cabin. Wonder if Delta will manage inventory the same way.

  • sfobuddy

    Why does DL keep lumping Diamonds in the same mix as everyone else ;-)

  • Alex

    TPG, one thing that confuses me is that when obviously bad program changes come out, like this example with Delta, you never seem to advocate to your ‘contacts’ that it is a bad decision. You mention that you think it’s not a good move in your blog, but you never really act as a consumer advocate.

    Someone who has a ‘full team’ helping him and makes TV appearances should have at least a little influence to try and help consumers out. I’m guessing you don’t want to risk damaging your relationship with your contacts, as they could revoke your credit card referrals?

  • Bob

    Also the freebie Trans Pacific Business Elite seats Delta gives him would be in jeopardy, these bloggers are not journalists, but rather graffiti artists. If anyone thinks TPG is looking out for you and me…please.
    That being said, I do find useful info here now and then. AT least TPG does not edit and accepts negative feedback, unlike Delta Points, which is a true joke as a blog.

  • Wedding Spend

    It’s going to be really interesting to see how all of Delta’s consumer-unfriendly changes plays out over the next year or so. Let’s hope that other airlines don’t jump on the bandwagon like with the recent hotel program devaluation.

  • Alex

    I do greatly respect TPG for accepting all feedback. Delta Points is just a joke- completely agreed. He doesn’t know much at all about Delta and his only contributions are to copy and paste Mileage Runs from flyertalk.

  • John777

    AA same-day confirmed is 24 hours ahead now


    Thanks for reading the blog Bob & Alex!

  • Alex

    Haha I don’t read it. I just laugh at the titles when I go to because they are all useless and just copy and paste from FT. I get my actual useful Delta information from the other boardingarea bloggers ;-)

  • thepointsguy

    I’ve done the same with JFK-LAX… have had some agents unwilling to SDC A fare into Business, but usually solved with a supervisor.

  • thepointsguy

    You’re joking, right? I am constantly in contact with loyalty programs and share my opinions publicly. If I was afraid of damaging my relationship with Delta, why would I slam their new MQD and this change in a public blog post that thousands of people will see and share via social media?

  • thepointsguy

    Just FYI I took one free flight to Japan 3 years ago on the day I quit my job (and a couple months after the earthquake when Japan tourism fell off a cliff and flights were empty). After that decided not to take freebies from travel providers and haven’t since. So if you’re thinking I’m worried about getting a free flight from Delta in the future, you’re wrong. AA recently offered me a free business class trip to London on the new 777 and I turned it down.

  • thepointsguy

    Availability changes by the minute, but thats why I always check Expertflyer the night before to get a rough feeling for how it may go down. For early AM flights the risk of earlier cancellations and thus the plane being booked solid is smaller for flights at the end of the day when things are really changing by the second.

  • Bob

    I am happy to hear you will take no more freebies from Delta or others, I just think it blocks objectivity, as I said I find some of your posts are well written and well researched and I do make use of them. I think my frustration lies in the Boarding Area bloggers not taken a more aggressive defensive stance against this constant devaluation of our hard earned miles/points

  • Mark

    American offers CFC for up to 24 hours prior on the phone and at the ticket counter. Only at the kiosks is the limit still 12 hours.

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  • Jim

    Looks like all of these changes are confirmed as of 23 April. I just got the email this morning:

    “Our same-day travel options offer you greater flexibility, and we want to keep you informed about a few upcoming changes.

    Beginning April 23, 2013, you may request a day-of-flight change any time prior to the departure time of your original flight.
    Previously, this option was only available within three hours of your
    new departure time. This expanded timeframe will allow you more time to
    make changes on the day of your departure.

    Please also note that the same booking class (e.g. Q, K, L or U) as your original ticket must now be available.

    As a Diamond, Platinum or Gold Medallion® member, you will receive
    complimentary same-day travel changes for new flight departure times
    that are three hours before or after your original departure time.
    For flights departing outside of this window, a $50 fee for each
    same-day confirmed ticketing change will apply. You also may continue to
    stand by free of charge for flights outside of the complimentary window
    or when your booking class is not available.”

  • TheBeachSage

    Same Day Confirmation policy changes to Elite Sky Miles Members
    have been the single worst policy I’ve seen Delta impose on its best customers
    since I started flying with your company many years ago.

    I understand the additional revenue component potential but
    the net effect will significantly lower customer loyalty where flexibility plus
    a genuine respect for my business is weighed against me and others conceding loyalty
    and status for the flexibility you took away.

    You have actually made it harder for you busiest travelers
    to spend more time with their families by RESRVING an earlier flight when a day’s
    meetings end sooner than expected.

    You have made it harder to prepare for business meetings by
    allowing you best customers to arrive earlier by RESERVING an earlier flight or
    a later one as happens in business.

    The fact that you would force your best passengers to give
    up hard earned chances by forcing them to fly standby meaning no chance for an upgrade
    is a terrible implementation and I hope unintended side effect of this flawed
    policy change.

    It will make me use the only other alternative I have out of
    Atlanta which will be the newly unified SW/Air Tran option because of the more
    flexible change policy and I can “buy” more respect for less than money than
    you would charge me for reserving a new ticket.
    Also since I can’t upgrade with the way you force me to stand by I’m not
    really losing anything and will wind up with a better seat than you would give
    me on standby.

    I would be ashamed if my company made me treat my best
    customers in the manner you have chosen to do to and elite level million miler. Shame on you Delta for this poor decision.

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