Rookie Wednesday: What if? Do you know the Delta rules? I bet you don’t!

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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.

what if

I asked you what if. It is a simple question. But the answer is anything but simple and will just cook our brain. Don’t believe me? OK let me turn up the heat. I mean Delta Points readers are some of the MOST informed and Delta educated flyers on the planet right? Well I bet you get this one wrong, but let’s just see.

the t&c with pay with miles

Now you should know the T&C with pay with miles by now. No? Well to make it UBER simple (gosh I love UBER) let me just remind you that if you spend a SINGE dollar and fly coach and pay with miles you will not earn a single Skymile or, more importantly, MQM – yep NOT ONE SINGLE POINT!

book one way pay

Now also, if you book or many times upgrade to a first class ticket you WILL EARN both points and bonus points. But you all know that, right?

pay with miles

You all are wise enough to know there are VERY few times booking and paying with miles is a smart choice, but if the deal is good enough maybe it can be worth while.

But from the outset of this post I challenged you to a test. So here it is and let me lay it all out for you with some background so you can make “the right call”. Now we all know a bump voucher from an oversold flight WILL earn full points when you spend it on coach or 1st class (yeah René we know that already – so what). Well hang on and here we go.

Let’s say you book a pay with miles ticket in coach. Then, for whatever reason and there can be many, you have to cancel it and an ETV or electronic travel voucher is issued for that ticket. Are we clear so far? So you have the ETV from a canceled Pay with Miles (PWM) ticket.

Now the quiz question. Say you book a flight later on and you SPEND that ETV. Do you earn any miles for the ticket?

The answer my friend is NO – NADA – ZIP – ZERO – NOTHING? Before you cry FOUL keep in mind you agreed just a few lines up that a coach ticket, even if you spend just a SINGLE DOLLAR with pay with miles earns no miles (told ya you would guess wrong).

This is truly a rare situation that can happen and did happen to a reader. Now to be fair to readers, when you do book a PWM ticket you are alerted and can see on the screen the earnings of MQMs go to 0. So you should not be shocked when you earn nothing for the trip. But, if you spend an ETV from a PWM there is no such warning. Again, to be clear, not saying Delta is doing anything wrong here, but alerting us would be great. After all, frequent flyers or those who fly a bunch can not always remember where a voucher came from.

So this is a very picky rookie Wednesday post but I really want you to take one thing away from this; the details matter. For example, say a promo comes out that says something like:

“Any tickets purchased after you register for this promotion count towards bonus points”

And you got a ticket 3 days ago. Sorry Charlie, ya ain’t gonna get bonus points and it is not Delta’s fault you got the ticket 3 days ago. Nor should you expect them to give them to ya just cuz! The fix is simple; book another flight after you register! 😉 – 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. Hi Rene,

    Is there any way that you know of to book two tickets on the same itinerary, but only using Pay with Miles on one of the tickets? I would like to bring my girlfriend with me, earn MQMs on my ticket and use my miles to reduce her ticket cost.

    It appears, however, that when you select pay with miles the miles are automatically evenly distributed between two tickets on the same itinerary. This would mean my only option is to book two different itineraries, call Delta and have them linked, so that she also gets companion benefits (Economy Comfort, etc.). Still seems kinda risky in the event something goes wrong, as all that I have read about “linked” itineraries indicates that they are just added “notes” and not really directly linked. Especially since we will be travelling internationally out of Europe and likely using KLM or Air France.


  2. I think the last two images should be reversed in order, or at least the post made a lot more sense to me when read that way. Thanks for all the reminders!

  3. Speaking of images—any way you can use higher resolution images in your posts? Not sure if it’s just because I am using my iPad or if it affects everyone, but when you post text, it is mostly illegible (fuzzy) for me. I can usually get the gist of it from context, but it would be nice to see the text clearly. Thanks.

  4. Hi Rene,

    If you get bumped when flying on a Reward Ticket, to you get a compensation voucher? If so, and you use that voucher to pay (in art) for a ticket, does that ticket generate no MQMs?

    If you’re Silver and use the voucher to buy a ticket, can you no longer get upgraded?


  5. @Greg D – If you get bumped off an award you will not earn miles for the rest of the award flights i.e. the changed flights but you WILL earn when you spend the ETV. A bump ETV is always the same. You get full medallion perks on a ticket paid for with an ETV.

  6. Hey, Rene: I just jumped on one of the cheap business fares to Europe for this fall. I used the $200 voucher that I got from either being a Diamond or from AmEx (whichever one gives the voucher). I specifically asked the agent if I would still get MQMs if I used the certificate, and she said that I would receive 14K+ MQMs. I hope she was right. Do you know?

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