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You can use select Delta companion certificates for domestic Delta One flights, but there's a catch

Jan. 25, 2022
5 min read
You can use select Delta companion certificates for domestic Delta One flights, but there's a catch
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You can again use the annual companion certificate included with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Cards on domestic flights with the airline's flagship Delta One seats in business class.

The news — first reported by Eye of the Flyer — comes as a surprise because the airline restricted Delta Reserve companion certificates to domestic first class, Comfort+ and Main Cabin tickets last year.

That said, due to new restrictions, it's more expensive to use your companion certificate for a Delta One ticket than it used to be — let's take a closer look.

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Using Delta companion certificates for Delta One

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Before you jump to Delta's website and book the cheapest round-trip Delta One airfares between San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX) and New York-JFK, there's a catch — the certificates will only apply to refundable fares. These are often at least 50% more expensive than non-refundable tickets on this route.

In particular, you can use your certificate to bring a companion on a ticket booked in the I or Z fare classes (in addition to the non-Delta One fare classes of W, L, U, T, X, and V). It's worth noting that certificates earned with the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (and its business equivalent) are only valid for Main Cabin flights booked in the L, U, T, X, and V classes.

Our test search showed that this unappealing requirement would raise the cost of a sample round-trip itinerary from San Francisco to New York-JFK dramatically. Non-refundable fares started at $1,180 per person. But in order to book an eligible fare class on which to apply your companion certificate, you'd have to purchase a ticket for $1,629 — nearly $450 more!

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

And then pay another $30 or so to bring your companion along (which isn't too bad on its own).

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

While it would be much better if you could maximize the value of the annual companion certificate on cheaper non-refundable fares, even paying $1658.40 for a roundtrip transcontinental Delta One flight for two passengers might be highly appealing to some folks who regularly purchase such fares. This comes to roughly $829 per passenger round-trip on a flight that is being sold for $1,180 per person. By thinking about it that way, the Delta companion certificate might still be worth $351 on this flight. But you do have to do some mathematical acrobatics (and commit to a higher fare class) to get there.

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Oddly, Delta's companion certificate terms and conditions still state that these certificates are "valid for one round-trip First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin Companion ticket" and do not mention refundable Delta One tickets. When TPG asked Delta if this has changed, the airline responded with the following:

"There have not been any changes to our Companion Certificate redemption rules. In the past, some customers have been able to book Delta One but this is an exception to our published terms"

It's worth noting that the companion will not earn any miles or status for their flight. But more important, if either the primary or the companion ticket is canceled, both tickets will be canceled and the companion certificated ticket will not be reissued. That negates the benefit of booking a refundable ticket in the first place and makes it seem like opening up Delta One under these conditions is little more than a cash grab by the airline.

That said, Delta Reserve companion certificates can still represent some great values if you redeem them for non-Delta One flights, including in the airline's domestic first class, or for Comfort+ seats, so cardholders should be able to maximize them in any number of ways.

Related: Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card review

Bottom line

We are happy to see that Delta is again allowing these certificates to be used on domestic transcontinental Delta One flights, even if it's on an unofficial basis. Unfortunately, the requirement to purchase a refundable Delta One fare limits the value and usefulness of these certificates. Still, if you plan strategically, you should be able to get upwards of $300 in value for your Delta companion certificate.

Feature photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.