Rookie Wednesday: The top 10 rules that you can ask a Delta agent to bend or break for you!

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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.

RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

Delta has rules. They have partner rules. They have computer’s rules. Of these three, the first can sometimes be bent or broken. The second can sometimes be worked around. The last is, most times, just about a brick wall. Both rookies and frequent flyers need to know what we can get done when we ask and what to expect.

I am often asked about what things we can “get away” with at Delta. Some of them you will have to attend a “DO” to find out more about, but most I can freely share. Most of these are at the discretion of the rep, so your results will vary. Some are also dependent on your status or situation with Delta (face it, PM & DM do get better treatment)! So let’s get started:

1) At this point we should all know that when schedule change happens, you are in control and can ask for just about anything. Think before you speak and if you don’t like what is offered ask again and again if need be.

2) Next is when you take a bump. Ask for 1st class on the next flight. If they say there is none, fine, ask for the flight after that one. If you are delayed for a long time, be sure to ask for meal vouchers. If they are too small ask for more. Ask for Skyclub passes. If overnight, and you don’t like the hotel, ask for another. If you don’t like any of them ask for another ETV credit voucher and find your own hotel. If they say they cannot do these things ask for a Red Coat as all of these things are possible and YOU have just helped them out by giving up your seat for them.

3) You need 30 minutes minimum for a domestic connection. Now you and I all know 30 minutes in Atlanta, depending on where you come in and go out, is not near enough by a long shot. So, if you happen to have say 35 minutes or less, you may well be able to ask for a change under the illegal connection rule. If rep one will not, call back, rep two may.

4) So many complain, including phone reps, about the lack of low levels seats. Let’s say they can find all the seats, on this side of the planet and the other side of the planet, but the DELTA METAL flight over the water only had 1 seat open low level. Ask the rep to have a supervisor “oversell” the one extra seat at low level.

5) Ask for the help desk. If you have something that should work but is not working for some unknown reason, they can often override and get it done. This is not really a tweak of the rules, it is just getting the broken IT to do what it should be doing in the first place. If you KNOW you are right, the help desk can do much.

6) Waive change fees. There are many issues that may come up that are frustrating. Again, depending on your medallion level or what has happened, you can ask a phone rep, a twitter rep, a Skyclub rep, anyone to NOTE the record to waive the change fee and then call for a ticket reissue and tell them to check the notes in the record to not be charged the change fee (keep in mind there may be fare charges or taxes or more points if an award ticket).

7) Airport change. Most times, depending on how bad the schedule change is, you maybe be able to get a rep to change your outbound airport. Don’t get crazy but for me, Kalamazoo is close to South Bend and I can often get that change done. But, there have been changes as extreme as Louisville, Kentucky to South Bend (but those are rare)!

8 ) Unless you are GM+ you must pay a change fee to get on an earlier flight. However, try going to the gate of the earlier flight and just ask the gate agents if there is any space for standbys as you would love to take this earlier flight. But do keep in mind your luggage more than likely will not go on the earlier flight (so carryon would be good) but if getting home sooner is worth it you can try.

9) Here is one for international flights. Delta often has open seats in business class but you cannot get free upgrades even as a medallion. But, let’s say there is something wrong with your seats in coach, say a broken video or much worse, I am sure an upgrade would make you from an unhappy flyer to a happy one (tip if you ask for this in front of everyone else the answer will be NO)!

10) Last chance, nothing works, nothing is changed, you are stuck in the middle seat back row in coach and want to cry, then ask for an on-board drink voucher from the agent (before boarding) to drown your sorrows and still think well of Delta!

So here are some things that reps will maybe, sometimes do, things that are “outside” the rules. Obviously a bunch will play a part as to if any of the above will be allowed. Much of it is up to the individual reps and, to some degree, DYKWIA. Are there other rules you have had success in getting Delta to bend or break for you? – René

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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. My most fortunate was on a flight from PDX-ATL a few years ago. The flight was severely delayed. I was to be seated in the very back of the plane. I asked at the gate if I could be moved forward so I might have a shot at making the next connection, ATL-ILM. Otherwise I’d be stuck for the night. They not only moved me up, they put me in 1st. The FA in 1st messed up the meals, and they ended up running out of what I ordered. She was over-the-top apologetic, offered to take me to dinner in ATL and literally hovered over me the entire flight, to the point that the woman next to me who had her headphones on and didn’t hear any of this took them off and asked me if I was someone important or famous because she’d never seen anyone treated that well on a plane. I’ll never have a flight like that again, and if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have received.

  2. I actually got upgraded once just because it was my birthday. Coach was full but there were seats up front. I was talking up the GA, and she did her magic on the computer and voila! I wasn’t even FO at the time.

  3. Great list Rene, too bad we cannot reach the “great ones” at Delta via phone direct and it’s just random when you call. Would like to be able to call the same great Delta staffers direct with an extension or something, used to be able to years back….

  4. Interesting info. Regarding number 8, I’m looking at a low-level award flight LHR-EWR and I can’t get a low level connection to ORD until the following day. Would there be any chance they would let me take an earlier flight that same day in your opinion? Thanks, Steve

    • @Cory – say in talking to the phone rep, they see only one seat at low level over the ocean to wherever, you can ask the rep, to ask a supervisor, to “oversell”, that is, free up one more seat at low level for you to get the booking done. Clear?

  5. Swizard210 Reply

    In regards to #2, I certainly agree that this is how it SHOULD work, but unfortunately when I volunteer my ticket, I have had the Gate reps deny me 1st class because “it’s not available” on any flight or they “can’t do that since I only paid for coach”, one too many times. As for the hotel room, I have only once asked for a larger voucher (more $$$) instead of a hotel, but didn’t get an luck.

    To piggyback on @Cory, I too wasn’t sure of what you mean by #4. Are you speaking of a situation where you want TWO tickets for your itinerary (husband and wife, etc.) and there happens to be only 1 low level ticket available? Hence asking the rep to “oversell” a second low level ticket for you?

    These are some great tips though! Thank you!!!

  6. I booked an award ticket from nyc to the west coast few months ago for an event there, this was for the weekend right before nemo; unfortunately I found out that I’d to attend a local event at a friend’s place (even more important)that very weekend; called skymiles team and politely asked for cancellation but the first few said no miles will be put back into account without a fee; finally i asked if they can change it to next week atleast and she did it as a one time exception without the fee. Next week once nemo hit, I got a full refund of my skymiles which was great because I didn’t feel like flying all the way out there for no reason.

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  8. I actually got upgraded to business class just for helping a few people get their luggage in the overhead compartment. I didn’t even ask; they just called my name and asked me to bring my carry-on up front!

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