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.
One of the best ways to fly is when someone else is paying for it. Bumpertunites, that is volunteering to give up your seat in exchange for a credit voucher, is a great way of earning “Delta Dollars” to do just that. However these, and other vouchers, come with a great deal of “rules” attached to them so we need to be aware of what kind of “funny money” we are trading in.
The next major point is we are talking rules not laws. Many of the rules are just punishing and down right wrong. There are no reasons for these rules other than to make Delta money and make it hard for you to spend your vouchers (many don’t and they just expire and Delta wins)! So much of this post will talk about ways to break or bend the Delta rules to get what you should have anyway.
First let’s talk about the simple one. Delta gift cards. These are the ones Delta STRONGLY promotes on the Delta.com web site. They do not expire. However, they are easy to lose and are not tracked on the web site. The rules say you can use up to 3 per ticket. If you are booking for two you can work it to use 3 per person and thus use 6 per ticket. How to game this one? Well Delta lets you cancel a ticket you have booked at no fee until midnight the next day. So, let’s say you have 3x$50 vouchers you got some way. You could book a ticket with these, call back and request to have it canceled and just one voucher issued for $150. You have now combined 3 tiny vouchers into one larger one and can now spend that and two more on a ticket.
The next one is a bump voucher. Back “in the day”, that is before 15DEC2011, this was an amazing product. Once you got it, it was like cash. Anyone could spend them and many were sold on EBAY for 75-90% of face value. But that was one of the reasons Delta cracked down on these. They went Draconian and said ONLY the person named on the voucher could use it and ONLY one per ticket could be used. The reality is this can be gamed. If you nicely ask and push you can use one voucher to pay for more than one person if all on the same reservation. You can also, if you push, have more than one voucher in your name applied to others who are flying with you as long as in the same reservation. This way you can use more than one voucher for your trip. I applaud reps for doing this as you are not trying to cheat the airline – just spend their funny money for a trip for you and your family and friends traveling with you. It is a rare situation you can get a rep to apply, like in the situation above, more than one voucher for a ticket for YOU and then cancel and end up with a larger voucher but it is possible to do.
Then you have canceled ticket vouchers. These can be kinda strange. You see if you have to cancel a ticket, you can always ask Delta to issue a credit voucher for you. Why in the world would you do this? Let’s say, for simple math, you have a $200 ticket that has the rules that say no changes. Delta stands firm and says NO NO NO and you will have to pay $200 to change the ticket. So there is no logical financial reason for you to pay this. You can, many times, get Delta to cancel the ticket and just give you a credit for the ticket and thus you are not simply “out” the ticket price as you are re-spending the proceeds only with Delta. These vouchers can come with rules attached that other vouchers don’t. The same thing goes for some PWM tickets from the past that have rules that do not allow earning of points but they should no longer be an issue from this point forward now that all PWMs tickets do earn points.
Lastly you have the time to spend them. Many vouchers have an expiration date of one year, that is you have one year to spend them and an additional one year to fly beyond that expiration date. Is there a way to game this? Sometimes. Let’s say you have a voucher expiring today. What you can do is book a FULLY refundable ticket with the voucher say 10 months from now. Then, when you find something you want to spend those funds on, call and say you want to cancel that refundable ticket and use the credits for this new ticket. Can things go sideways? Maybe but most times the reps will make it work.
Now for some personal thoughts. Again, we are not breaking any LAWS here. We are playing with company money where they make the rules. If they say it is OK, whoever that is at the company, it is OK. It is also mind numbingly stupid to have so many restrictive rules that punish loyal travelers trying to spend money that they have due them from issues or whatever that resulted in a credit voucher of some type being issued. Lastly the name issue. It would not be a hard fix for Delta to allow only those with the same last name to use vouchers. I mean, without pushing reps, it should be AOK for me to use a voucher in my name for my wife or kid (if I had kids that is).
Delta wants these vouchers to go unused; we want them to be redeemed and these are some ways we can get that done! Questions? Fire away – René