How to INFURIATE flyers 101 – The lessons unlearned from SDC i.e. Same Day Change rules with Delta

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Note: I will be on vacation most of this week with my buddies in northern Michigan so I will have limited access to the blog and e-mail. I will be sure to follow up soon!

delta sdc rules going down again

Sigh. I mean, deep sigh. One day a Ph.D. doctoral thesis on how to take an HVC, that is a high value customer, and infuriate them to the point of an embolism. It would not be a hard subject to consider as Delta’s schizophrenic changes to the SDC, or same day change, rule is a perfect topic to review.

First let me show you the latest update I have from Delta regarding my query to the changes that just hit this past week. I was told:

  • Changes to Origin and Destination are not permitted
  • Changes from connection to nonstop are not permitted
  • Changes from nonstop to connection are permitted

Oh joy – just perfect. In case you are perplexed over all of this, let me bring you up to speed. Way back when, Delta had an amazing SDC rule. You could, with open space found, get home early if your plans changed. Delta did not like this, so, in change #1 they went hard core even charging fees to HVCs then in change #2 backpedaled on that change. Now, an open spot was not enough. There had to be space in your fare class and that, last minute, was unlikely. Then, after enough 1st class fare ticket purchasers complained in change #3, Delta changed it so that 1st class was basically exempt and back to the old rules (and the passengers in 1st rejoiced). Today, as you can see in change #4, another layer of restrictions has been placed on BOTH groups!

The reason for all these changes, like all changes Delta makes, is to make more money. The first round was to stop those from buying cheap tickets and then changing. You want to change free, then pay up for a flexible ticket (often much more money btw). Then someone looked at the 1st class tickets and was smart enough to think that maybe if you are this hard core to someone already paying much more than most they may just go to another airline. So they changed back. But now, due to some perhaps buying a much cheaper JFK-ATL-LAX and then changing to the JFK-LAX direct, that had to be stopped.

Plus, for coach class, the change to connection from nonstop is still very hard as not just one flight but two have to have the same fare class seats.

So back to my doctoral thesis idea. Delta has decided once again to infuriate 1st class flyers and coach class flyers have yet one more layer of bureaucracy to endure.

Happy flying week everyone? – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.


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  1. The only thing about SDC charges that make me at least a little less angry is that it forces them to fly with empty seats. Which, as a stock holder, frustrates me on another level. I’m sure we all have stories of asking to change – maybe even at the gate – and being told they’d be happy to put us on that plane…for a fee. This homie don’t play that game. You go ahead and let that plane push back with an empty seat then, rather than give yourself that much more time to try to fill my original seat. Your bean counters, your stock holders, and your passengers will love you for that! (NOT!)

  2. Amazing…simply amazing. Alienate your best customers? Either they don’t care or they are completely out of touch with their HVC.

  3. So I can make a change that gets me MORE MQMs, but can’t make a change that gets me fewer MQMs? Who’s the genius who came up with that one?

    When did they send out the email about this one? I missed it.

  4. The one thing I am liking about UA is the awesome SDC rule, includes international, and can move day before or after.

    And what, no Diamond exemption from this irritating rule?! 😉

  5. So the problem was that people would buy a lower cost 1st class ticket JFK-ATL-{SEA|SFO|LAX], and then SDC to JFK-{SEA|SFO|LAX] Business Elite?

    And instead of simply saying “SDC from First Class to a Business Elite Flight puts you in Economy Comfort, not Business Elite”, they had to completely change the rules for everyone?

    Genius, pure genius.

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