Delta finally eliminates the strict 72-hour award cancellation rule

Dec 16, 2020

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Delta award tickets have just become a lot more flexible.

That’s because the Atlanta-based carrier has now dropped its restriction on changing or canceling a SkyMiles redemption within 72 hours of departure — for all flights globally, a carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

This applies to all awards purchased with SkyMiles for all destinations, including those operated by the carrier’s Skyteam partners.

For over nine years, Delta required that all awards be changed or canceled three or more days before departure. Otherwise, you’d forfeit your miles for making a last-minute modification.

In late August, following similar moves made by its major competitors, Delta started to rethink ticket flexibility. The carrier permanently eliminated change fees for domestic tickets and dropped the 72-hour rule from domestic SkyMiles awards, too.

Just last week, Delta expanded its no-change-fee policy to cover all international flights departing from U.S. — and subsequently eliminated the 72-hour rule from those flights as well.

But Wednesday’s move makes all SkyMiles tickets infinitely more flexible, regardless of itinerary or destination.

While this is certainly a customer-friendly move, do note that both American and United have long allowed flyers to modify award tickets at any time before departure. Regardless, it’s great to see Delta making this change, even if it’s playing “catch up” with its Big 3 competitors.

Just because it’s now easier to change or cancel a Delta award doesn’t mean that it’s going to be free. Some award tickets no longer carry a change or redeposit fee, including those:

  • Booked on or after Aug. 31, 2020, for travel within the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
  • Booked on or after Dec. 9, 2020, for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world.
  • Booked on or after Dec. 9, 2020, for travel between the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

However, for all other awards, flyers will be on the hook for $150 to change or cancel an award. Platinum and top-tier Diamond Medallions will continue to receive free changes to all awards, regardless of destination.

American Airlines, on the other hand, has led the way when it comes to award fees. The carrier has permanently dropped change and redeposit fees for all awards modified any time before departure.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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