CONFIRMED: Upgrades & Fare class are NOT a bump perk (even if a Delta rep says so)!

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Delta Revenue Management has been in full court press this year to make sure you pay up for anything at all you do once you set foot in the airport or on the plane (when you purchase the non- changeable ticket); they also are pushing us the other way to make sure they pay out as little as possible for a bump on an oversold flight.

As most of you have seen, and I have experienced myself on a number of occasions, the gate agents have their hands tied and can only offer so much to get people off a flight. Delta IT has been great at fixing this major concern for us all and we are truly thankful – are we not?

I would never, EVER, take a bump, even for say 1 hour, for just $50 or $75! Back in the day when you could combine vouchers, maybe, but now ONLY YOU, no one else, can use the voucher, and you can NOT combine more than one for a trip.

One thing I have done, and been happy to do, is take a bump for FREE in exchange for an upgrade to first class ticketing or to “Y” class on the re-book because as a medallion, even when I was a lowly Silver Medallion, then my upgrade chance went way up on the re-issue of the ticket to Y class. I also clearly knew I would only get credit for my original paid fare class ticket and that was fine too. I just wanted a better “chance” at an upgrade on the next flight and it was worth giving up my seat for FREE for either of the two situations above.

Photo Credit: Delta Air Lines from Twitter

However, both I and other readers have noticed a disturbing trend from the “outstanding” Delta “IT” department as of late. Suddenly, mid-travel, you may find without notice, your ticket re-booked BACK to the original fare class. Even if you were promised FIRST class by a RED COAT or another rep, you were dumped back to what you had. So, the compensation you thought you were going to get, for taking a free or cheap $50 bump, is now GONE!

I reached out to Delta about this and was told these are the facts about bump rebooks:

“Our agents work with customers who volunteer to be flexible with their travel plans on a particular flight or route in exchange for compensation and the next available flight. Compensation offered to customers is in the form voucher for future travel in a specified a dollar amount. The original fare class selected by the customer at the time of purchase is the fare class used for administrating various related benefits of the SkyMiles program including mileage accrual and upgrade priority.” – Delta CORP

So, the key part to clue in on, and no matter what any rep tells you or promises you, upgrades and fare class are NOT part of the perks for a bump, ONLY the voucher – nothing else – Period!

Will I stop taking bumps? No, (unless the only thing they start offering is a package of Biscoffs) but I have already said NO to many $100 & $200 ones this year and will continue to do so from this point forward. This will especially be the case when I am already in first class, and a flight is oversold, as there will be no guarantee that I will be assured an upgrade due to the bump fare class re-book on the next flight.

Also, keep in mind we can still “game” this a little bit if the flight is coming up quickly. A medallion on a “Y” class rebook could still end up with an instant upgrade (medallions can get free, if open, instant Y class upgrades), but make sure the flight is NOT more than a few hours away so Delta “IT” can “fix” your ticket back!

Bottom line on all of this, be very careful if you choose to give up your seat for a bump on Delta. The rules are getting worse and worse every day. Let those who don’t understand what they are getting themselves into suffer the results of tying to help Delta out and “enjoy” what they just volunteered for! – René

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  1. In light of this an other recent changes, how about a Rookie Wednesday post on how to take a bump, both voluntary and involuntary? Do I have to sign anything (almost certainly, but what exactly – and is there anything to watch out for)? What if I’m invol bumped but I’m not offered the proper compensation? What if I realize later that I was entitled to more compensation for an invol bump than I received? From today’s post we know that we’re supposed to end up in the same fare class on a bump, but does the original fare class have any bearing on bumping (different benefits; more or less likely to be invol bumped)? When do “trip in vain” rules apply?

  2. Yes, bumps have become more precarious — but had a recent experience that surprised me.
    When checking in I volunteered and typed in $400.
    The flight was a connection — ORD-MSP-SDF and I had paid into P for ORD-MSP and was already in F and into S for MSP-SDF which was very oversold.
    My meeting ended early so I did and SDC at the ORD sky club to fly ORD-DTW-SDF, one leg booked directly into F and the other put me #1 on the upgrade list.
    30 minutes later get an autocall from DL telling me that the DTW flight was delayed and I’d miss the connection to SDF. I went online and rebooked myself back to the original flight — got the F seat back ORD-MSP and was booked directly into F for MSP-SDF. (And the SM statement shows both flights as F/F with the corresponding bonus base and MQMs.) Note the rebook was using my ipad and the delta app.
    Here is the really interesting twist. I get to the gate at MSP and ask about whether they are still looking for volumteers. The agents say “are you mister tom l? we were waiting for you before we gave the bump to someone else since you volunteered when you checked it.”
    The only option was a flight the next morning and I needed to be in Louisville for a meeting so didn’t take it, but I seem to have hit a jackpot. The IRROPS forced the booking into a higher class of service and some GAs in MSP who were actually holding the bump to see if I wanted it.

  3. I don’t think that it’s illogical to conclude that continued exposure of unofficial VDB benefits has contributed to implementation of tighter policies. Why look the gift horse in the mouth so often?

  4. @George – I would think it is clear, one should be able to trust what an agent of the company tells you. However, the Delta “IT” has made sure that this is no longer the case. Beyond that, a VDB should not be a gift, it is payment for helping the company out! These prices are up for negotiation at the time, as we all know, and we AND REPS should be able to know what is company policy and what is not.

  5. I am quite confident that DL will book me into F on a bump and honor it. (It helps to be friendly with the red coats at your local airport!) Otherwise, they will be issuing me a full refund.

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