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

Jan 25, 2022

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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

Delta Boeing 767-300 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 showing cost of Delta One business class for two people using companion certificate between SFO and JFK
(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.

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.

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