A word of CAUTION about @Delta ETV’s if you EVER take a #voucher! I am DONE…

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Delta Air Lines goes all out to make sure you, and your family or friends, can enjoy all the benefits of being loyal to our beloved airline. For example, all the Delta branded AMEX cards give you and up to 8 more, ALL ON THE SAME ITINERARY, a free bag, saving you a ton of cash. If you are a Medallion flyer then you and up to 8 more, ALL ON THE SAME ITINERARY, can all sit in exit rows or you and up to 8 more can get Economy Comfort upgrades free domestically. If you fly internationally ALL ON THE SAME ITINERARY all of you get, either free or at a discounted rate, economy comfort seating. Not just seats, ALL THOSE ON THE SAME ITINERARY, can enjoy Sky Priority check-in and boarding according to your Medallion status.

ALL THIS CAN GO OUT THE WINDOW VERY QUICKLY! Please understand this as Delta’s rule change for ETV’s or electronic travel vouchers from December of 2011 makes them almost worthless and the most punitive of the major airlines! For me, the current value of a Delta voucher is no more that 50% of face value, maybe even less. Why? Check this out!

Let’s say you and your wife give up your seats for $300 each. Under the rules, YOU AND ONLY YOU can spend the ETV issued in your name. Sure, if you can find two tickets for under $300 [edit: or you pay for the rest of cost of the tickets] you could theoretically both fly and get medallion benefits. But if you want to spend both vouchers, you must buy two tickets, under two separate PNR’s (for now Delta has NO WAY to put two PNR’s into one). What happens then?

PLEASE understand this very clearly, anyone who does not have the same level or higher of medallion status as you gets nothing as you all are  NO LONGER ON THE SAME ITINERARY! No free bags from AMEX card! No EC upgrades! No exit row! No sky priority check in or boarding!  NOTHING! Your wife, family, friends or group are no longer “shown the Medallion love” by our Delta Air Lines. Delta still loves you, just no one else with you as they are all on separate PNR’s!

I am one of the most positive Delta “cheerleaders” in the blogging world and I proudly wear that badge. But the Delta ETV rules are just wrong and punitive. I reached out to Delta for a response about this topic and was given the answer “no comment”!

I can tell you this, if Delta ever wants me to give up my seat ever again, I will DEMAND CASH per my rights (ok a check is fine) or I will  NOT give up my seat!  I just don’t see the value under the current ridiculously restrictive rules and plan to educate as many as I can about what Delta’s policy is (please feel free to Facebook or tweet with @Delta #Delta #voucher this post with the “SHARE” icon below).

So what do you think? Did you know all the above? Will it change whether or not you give up your seat? I really want to know. The sad thing is there will always be those who will give up their seats as they just don’t know what they are agreeing to and the money sounds great until they go to redeem the ETV’S! – Rene


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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses 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.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. so really this only matters for people who travel with a companion? if you most often fly alone then it doesn’t really matter, right?

    • @Danielle – maybe. Let’s say you take one for $400. OK, you spend say $375 of it on a ticket. OK. Now, the $25 you have can NOT be used with say another one you have for say $100! YOU MUST buy another ticket and can ONLY use the $25 if you want to use it up! Clear? – Rene

  2. What’s the big deal? This is well known among Delta Medallion members. I travel alone, so it has zero effect on me. I use a bump voucher until the value is completely used up. If you don’t like it and travel with companions on YOUR dime, just don’t volunteer!

  3. Ok, I understand that only 1 ETV can be used at a time, and that stinks, but the seat assignment rules can and will be overridden with a phone call to DL. My wife and I have an itinerary coming up (me GM, she no status) where we each booked with skymiles out of our own individual accounts so we each have a unique PNR. I called up to ask if they could help me get seats assigned together, and the agent was more than happy to put a note in there which explains that we are traveling together. She was happy to assign my wife to ‘preferred seating’, and even made a phone call in order to get my wife into an EC seat for free on one or two legs (domestic).

    Also, it has been my experience in the past that if I have a sky priority boarding pass and my wife does not, as long as I tell the agent that we’re together, she will be allowed to board with me.

    Finally, I still get to check two bags for free as a medallion, and that is more than enough luggage for the two of us.

    • @Lan – I was waiting for a comment just like yours so thank you! The key thing about your comment is:

      “rules can and will be overridden with a phone call to DL”

      So you are fine with the fact that you must play call center roulette until you can get a rep to break the rules? I am not for ETV’s!
      Also, when it comes to bags, let’s say you have a family of 4 where the Dad works & fly’s Delta and whats to fly with the wife and kids. I guess they will have to be fine with less bags too as that is easy for them?

  4. @Rene
    I didn’t have to play roulette at all. I have called twice, and both times have had reps willing to help me out. As you are well aware, medallion callers get routed to more competent agents.
    Second, I said that two bags was fine for my wife and I. I did not mention anything about that being ‘ok’ for a larger family. Sure if you are a group of 8, the baggage rule is going to be a pain, I think everyone realizes that, I was just trying to point out that it is not gloom and doom for everyone.

  5. @Rene, Have you EVER received cash or check on a VOLUNTARY bump? Not going to happen. DL will just increase the voucher amount until they receive enough volunteers. But cash -NEVER!

    • @Bob – yes it can happen. There are many times when they must get many off a flight and if the option is to pay someone who WANTS to give the seat up over just pulling someone, they will pay the one who wants to get off. But you are correct that many who do NOT KNOW THE rules will just at the big sounding number, as I said, and will take the ETV when it “sounds” big enough. Sad for them!

  6. Maybe I need more coffee this morning to understand the issue here. Where does it say you have to be booked on separate pnrs? The link you provide ‘Delta’s rule change for ETVs’ states “Redemption/Transferability: Voucher is non-transferable unless assigned to someone traveling with the original voucher owner on the same reservation at the time the voucher is being redeemed.” So it looks like it can be used by someone else in the same pnr. Is that how you interpret that too?
    Even if you both have your own ETVs, it seems like you should be able to book in the same pnr since the ETV is a form of payment, and one pnr can accommodate multiple forms of payment.

    • @DL – it would be nice if it would work the way you say but no. You can ONLY use ONE per ticket (sure you could transfer say your wife to you but so what next). Even if YOU have two, say a $100 and a $200 one, guess what, you ONLY get to use ONE! Enjoy!

  7. @DL

    There’s no way for them to put the reservations on the same PNR. I ran into this recently, where both my wife and I had ETVs with residual value. There was no way to book these tickets together online and select the appropriate ETV for each, nor was there a way for the agent to do it when I called the Medallion line. She had to book the tickets separately and apply the ETVs to each ticket one at a time. She said this was the only way to do it. She was able to assign us seats together (preferred seats, since I’m Gold and my wife has no status), and put a note in the PNRs that we’re traveling together, But there’s NO way to even link the PNRs, so if there’s any IROP, I’ll just have to *hope* we are kept together. I’m even afraid to go into the seat assignment since the wonderful Delta website may decide to separate us.

    The Dec 2011 change to ETV usage policy is the most ridiculous, customer-unfriendly move DL has made since the 72-hr no-change on awards. Not even being able to combine your own ETVs just drives me nuts. I had a $40-something one left and a $20-something one. Totally useless.

  8. I am a solo traveler, and a fairly infrequent one as I don’t travel at all for work so the impact of this on me is negligible. I have only had 2 ETVs from Delta in my life, one of which I got while flying on an itinerary purchased with the other.

    That said, on the surface this seems like as stupid a policy as you can come up with. I am sure there’s a benefit to the bottom line somehow, but I don’t know what it is. I assume there will come a time when this rule will really upset me. Like, if I have two $300 vouchers and want to use them to get $600 off a flight to Europe. When I can’t do that I’ll be angry.

    I really enjoy flying Delta. Mostly because from my home airport of MSN or MKE I am most often flying through Minneapolis or Detroit as opposed to Chicago if I flew American or United. But, there are a lot of things about United and American that seem far more appealing than Delta when it comes to cashing in on perks.

  9. Setting aside the non-combinability of the ETVs with the revised T&Cs, I would just like to point out that the extension of medallion benefits to non-medallion companions on a separate PNR is definitely a YMMV situation. Of course, you are right that according to official policy, non-medallion companions are required to be on the same PNR to qualify for things like preferred seats and checked baggage fee waivers. But in my experience, a quick call to DL has always gotten my companions preferred seats, and being friendly to the TA at the airport has always extended my free baggage allowance. I have also never experienced any issues with companions boarding with me in my boarding zone. So DL is not nearly as customer unfriendly as you fear in practice.

    • @Haloastro – txs for you detailed comment. But who wants to fly with the “Delta will break the rules for me” rather than I know this is a benefit for me?!? – Rene

  10. I will still accept any and all bumps, however, there is yet ANOTHER issue and much more costly issue with the vouchers that I have discovered. The last time my husband flew, we were both bumped. He does not fly often, but the agent told us that the voucher was transferable and that I could use it instead. We asked about this carefully, because we are legally married but have different last names.

    Well, the agent said we could transfer the vouchers BUT…the truth is, I can use his voucher once, to pay for one flight. I cannot use the remaining money in the voucher, and he has no plans to fly soon. And I only got the fine print telling me this when I tried to use the remaining money in the voucher. So we both feel that we were sort of ripped off. If the agent had fully explained, “Make sure to use this where you will use up the full value in one go, because he cannot tranfer the (substantial) remaining residual in the voucher,” we would not feel cheated. But we were told he had a fully transferable $400 voucher, and it turns out, that in effect, it was only $250 because that’s the cost of the ticket he transferred to me.

    If the agents were upfront about what they were giving you to be bumped, no one would feel cheated. He could have very easily tranferred the voucher to me on a more expensive flight. But she specifically told us that he could transfer the value to me and use it more than once…which was simply not true. This has created some unnecessary bad feelings, where at first we had nothing but positive thoughts about Delta and the bump.

    A spouse should be able to use the full value of a spouse’s voucher. That’s what marriage is. Simple as that.

  11. I suggest writing delta a complaint. That is the only way they will both hear our collective frustrations and possibly reconsider

  12. @Rene You are absolutely right and I agree with you that it’s an unwelcome change in policy. I hope that it was still helpful to point out that DL has been flexible as far as medallion benefits are concerned (so far) in this situation.

  13. If you and your spouse get offered two ETVs at $300 a piece, couldn’t you just ask for one voucher at $600?

  14. The inability to use 2 EVTs isn’t that big of a deal. If you, as a frequent flyer, can’t use 1 today it’ll be there for the next ticket. It’s a simple cash flows equation. If I have a $400 ticket today and a $400 ticket in 3 months, and 2 $100 tickets I’m still out $600 no matter how you divide that money. If you, as a frequent flyer, allow a EVT to expire that’s on you imho

  15. First of all, best of luck to those pledging to take cash or nothing (in other words, generally nothing). I could see that as an admirable, but probably fruitless stance, but probably more like tossing the baby’s nose out with the bathwater to spite your face…or something like that. You’re losing more than you gain, I think. The new voucher policies are not good, and that needs to be taken into consideration of course, but they’re still useful and people who are either ignorant of the limitations or able to work around with them will take the bulk of the available VDBs. Yes, I wish I could transfer or especially combine vouchers, but I (and likely many others) can still make them work. The big loss is in combinability, and the lack of a risk-free cancel option is very annoying also. Better vouchers would be great, but there’s a limit to how worked up I can get.

    In terms of the medallion benefit complaints, I do not have any stories since paid access to premium seats and Economy Comfort were rolled out, and I’ve heard the occasional horror story from around the time of the rollout so it’s possible things have done. With that said, my general experience follows.

    When I travel with my wife on domestic tickets, most of the time we’re on different PNRs. Usually this is because one of us is meeting the other, and then returning on the same flight. I’ve split PNRs a few times to give her a chance at an upgrade as well, but for the most part we’re just traveling on different schedules. I’ve never had any problem with asking for her to be assigned premium seats, never had a problem taking her through Sky Priority lines, etc. etc. Reasonable requests have always just been accommodated – no call center shopping required. Bags have been a non-issue as we pretty much never bring more than I have available for free anyway. From what I have heard from others, for most cases you can get this accommodated at the airport as well.

    Absent trying to squeeze a whole beer league softball team with multiple people with vouchers through sky priority on your coattails, I don’t quite see the same sky is falling situation here.

    The combination rule is more serious, and transfer and particularly risk-free cancel probably should be allowed, but it’s not quite as bad as you make it out to be.

    Regarding “rights” – you only have specific rights if you are IDBed. The DOT as not mandated the form or amount of compensation that airlines offer to volunteers.

  16. Rene, does this lame policy have any substantial impact on redemption of companion vouchers? Say I have a $300 ETV for myself and also a $99 companion voucher for my spouse.

  17. @ridiculous Reply

    Do you honestly think that DL will offer you cash? Do you think a GA has a stack of hundreds sitting behind her desk? Do you think they have a check printer waiting to hand out DL Credit Union checks to those who DEMAND?

    Rules regarding cash hold for IDB, not VDB.

    Regarding: “The sad thing is there will always be those who will give up their seats as they just don’t know what they are agreeing to and the money sounds great until they go to redeem the ETV’S!”

    You think someone will not use a voucher because of these rules? Are you suggesting they are being scammed into giving up their seat?

  18. I never considered the vouchers to be all that valuable in the first place: 1) I don’t feel $300 is really enough for the inconvenience. I live near de-hubbed-but-still-DL-fortress CVG where the fares are still relatively high. Sure, I might be able to find the occasional sub $300 fare, but it is likely to a place I’m not interested in visiting and 2) you are stuck using them only on DL within a defined period.

    Since it is extremely rare that I’m paying for tickets, I might have the minority opinion but give me cash or miles instead of a silly voucher. For the few opportunities I’ve encountered when my business travel was flexible and an oversold situation occurred, I’ve pitched $400 cash or 25K miles offer to the agent. They noted the offer, but usually always found a sucker for the $300 voucher.

    I will say that DL gave me a $200 ETV one time for a terrible trip to Asia that involved 2 connections that both had mechanical delays, making a 24 hour trip into a 30 hour nightmare. Funny thing is, we were assured by the FAs that the certificates would automatically post to our account. Mine never did, so I wrote to customer service and told them what I thought of their vouchers, stating that miles were more valuable. They replied and gave me 15K miles. That was nice.

  19. this JUST happened to me last night!
    I have two ETV totaling $155, one of which was for a flight fare which went down $55 12 hours after booking so I called up delta and they re-issued the ticket but only at the end told me i was not credited back $55 but now have $55 ETV, fine since im making a new reservation the following week. then i go to book and i cant use both of mine and it wouldnt let me use my wifes etv for the same $55 credit situation.
    After talking to delta and waiting 30+ min to tech support, the supervisor told me to book two seperate itineraries.
    I am Silver med. and she has the Delta Credit card and so if we are not on the same confirmation they give us a hard time at the airport for each of us to use the benefit of the other.
    finally a supervisor did the work and took ONE of my ETV and my wifes and now i just have a $55 one to use up some time.

    If were offered to bump and you demand cash not Delta ETV, you think they’ll actually give it to you?

  20. This airline has no moral compass, they will do everything to try and make the customer exerience frustrating…I hope you wake uyp to the fact that DELTA will NEVER look out for the customer best interests. Please start to take a hard stance on Delta a little more frequesntly. I hope, unlike The Points Guy, you don’t accept free travel from Delta

  21. please add this ETV issue and companion upgrades to your Ann Arbor Art Fair DO talk, thanks, see you there!

  22. Johnnyfive Reply

    The rules aren’t pretty clear on whether you can insist on cash, but it seems you have a better chance if you are bumped involuntarily.

    “DOT has not mandated the form or amount of compensation that airlines offer to volunteers.”

    “DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. Those travelers who don’t get to fly are frequently entitled to denied boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash. “

  23. Iolaire McFadden Reply

    FYI: I called up trying to buy a single reservation for two people using two bump vouchers, online I could only use one, the international agent was able to keep the reservation linked by using her “other system.” So use used two vouchers – one for each of us – on a linked set of reservations.

    • @lolaire – txs and this sounds great in principle but you DO have two PNR’s or reservations. Linked sounds great but you will want to keep and EAGLE EYE on them as you could find yourself on different flights worse case with a change and have fun trying to get Delta.com to pick medallion perks!

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