Delta Admits Mistake, Rolls Back Tightened Award Booking Restrictions
One of the big issues that airline and hotel loyalty programs have to constantly battle is theft. With some thieves stealing as much as $260,000 worth of miles/points, it can be a costly issue for these programs.
While some programs — looking at you, IHG Rewards — do an especially bad job of managing user accounts, other programs implement security measures to try to limit the risk. The trouble with some of these restrictions is that they can limit legitimate uses of miles/points by account holders.
In the past year, Delta SkyMiles seems to be in the midst of trying to find the middle ground between reducing fraud and allowing members to use their miles.
In July 2017, Delta began requiring in-person ticketing for award flights ticketed within 72 hours of travel for flights originating in China, Russia and "any country in Africa." At the end of February 2018, those restrictions were expanded to include Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brazil:
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.
Then, this week, Delta took that a step further by eliminating all award ticketing within 72-hours of departure for "award tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada." Thankfully, within 24 hours, this text was eliminated from the SkyMiles terms and conditions, and the previous restrictions (quoted above) were restored.
Delta reached out to Gary Leff from View From The Wing to say this change "was a mistake." It's hard to fathom how new rules are "mistakenly" written up. So, it could be possible that either these new restrictions are going to be implemented soon or perhaps this was an internally proposed rule that was killed off. Time will tell.