A reader question about linking reservations

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I peaked into some very basic and yet important rookie question and answers this past week. I also opened up for rookies to shoot off other questions they wanted to know about. One reader, Chris, had a good set about linking reservation or PNR’s:

  • What does it mean when they are linked?
  • How do they get linked?
  • What are the advantages?
  • How to get baggage, boarding and other benefits for linked travelers?
  • What happens when things go wrong with linked reservations? That is, what to do if the linked reservations don’t show together on Delta.com (monitoring the reservations), pre-travel seat changes, different boarding groups on boarding passes, paying for bags if normally free, etc?

Wow that is a long question(s). But let’s break it down. What is linking? There are many things that apply to linking. We now have the new SPG linking of your Skymiles to your SPG account. We also have the situation where you say have one flight one day on Delta, then, the same or next day, another Delta flight and want to have that linked to the 1st one. But these are not the norm or what we are going to touch on. We are, for this post, going to talk about two people, traveling on the same flights or mostly the same flights, having their two travel plans or PNR’s linked to each other. You have to call or speak to a rep some way to get this done.

Why would you want to have two or more PNR’s linked? The advantages are many and the rewards can be too. BTW the reason and need for this linking is because our airline cannot in any possible way merge two PNR’s into one if for some reason you have two PNR’s all going to the same place on the same planes.

One of the biggest reasons for linking is to save bag fees. If you have the DELTA AMEX card, you and up to 8 more on YOUR PNR get a free bag. If you link the accounts, you can “hope” Delta will honor that and give you all a free bag.

Another big reason is schedule change. If there are flight changes, you can “hope” Delta will change you all together to the new flights.

Economy Comfort and exit row seats. If you’re medallion, on the same PNR, you can pick either for free or for a reduced fee EC or exit row seats. If you link PNR’s, you will NOT see this online, but can call and “hope” the rep will help you out in picking seats or getting the reduced fees.

Another perk, if say only YOUR flights change, and a friend who is traveling with you, say 1/2 way into the trip, you can get changes to BOTH reservations free if they are linked to each other.

Now to the major issues with this. Notice how many times I said “hope”. All of this is up to the Delta reps. That is always bad as it is up to the rep to do the right thing when things to don’t go right and you need help. Most times things do go well; if they don’t get a supervisor or redcoat involved and then it will be fine once you explain what is going on. But you must make sure they NOTE THE RESERVATION with the linking so they can look it up and confirm.

So thanks Chris for this great question. Got more questions about linking PNR’s? Shoot away but keep in mind I will be traveling back from Europe today so it will be Monday before I can answer most questions – René


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  1. A related question is bag transfer to international, two seperate airlines. We have a domestic coach positioning flight from DFW to ATL so we can take advantage of a low tier business class award flight to Europe on Delta.

    Will it be a big deal to check our bags through to CDG from Dallas? A complicating factor is that our Delta non stop goes to STR. Our next flight is AF from STR-CDG with about 1 hour twenty minutes connection. The ATL-STR-CDG is on one PNR but our AA flight from DFW-ATL is completely separate award ticket. Do we go through imagration in Germany (STR) or just France (CDG).

    Thanks Mark
    What are the risks? What is possible when checking bags DFW through to CDG?

  2. I like the Capital One card, this was my first credit card and was easy to get.

  3. Hi, Rene’, maybe for the newer Rookies, you could state what a PNR is and that it is sometimes called a ‘record’ by the Agent.

    It is also a good idea to ask the Agent to be sure to add into ‘History’ what the Agent did, i.e. linking records so Gate Agents, Redcoats, etc. will know what occurred if there are any problems.

  4. Here is a question: We have 3 flights booked together on Skymiles to Hawaii with a one way to DC on the front end – ATL/DCA/ATL/HNL/ATL. We have 1 flight booked with cash for a PM (so he can accrue miles) on ATL/HNL/KOA/HNL/ATL. I paid for the 3 of us on Skymiles to have EC on the way out since it was 10 1/2 hours. Do you think they would link our HNL/ATL flights on the way back so we could benefit from the free EC due to the PM flying with us?

  5. I get what you are saying, Rene, and thanks for spelling it out. If the reservations get split for any reason, whether they were booked separately or broken apart for some reason (a refund or change on one ticket), they reservations are no longer attached. Instead, it takes human understanding to make the connection and respond accordingly. Good thing Delta has outstanding customer service at all levels!

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