Delta’s award booking “Bait and Switch” is alive & well. (So much for a working award page).

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


delta award booking page bait and switch page 1

You know what is frustrating to me? Being told that something is going to cost me this much but in reality is something else.

This practice is called “Bait and Switch” where a company shows one price, but when you go to pay the price is different. Delta, off and on, has had real issues with this when it comes to tickets you are purchasing. But does this apply to award tickets too?

By then end of this week I should be down from almost 1 million Skymiles in my account to under 3,000. My wife is down to under 10,000 (she did not have that many to start with). So I have been doing a BUNCH of award bookings and I CLEARLY will not pay more than LEVEL 1 or low level awards for any of them. I have a family reunion in July and since it is vacation and I am flying with my wife I want to go in 1st class (you may not agree with using my Delta points for this kind of domestic redemption, but that is for another post).

delta award booking page bait and switch page 2

Now before we get too far into this, keep this next VERY important detail in mind. Notice what Delta has publicly stated the reason for the shameless and insulting removal of the award booking charts was:

Delta’s expanded search capabilities and calendar at offer more flexible and accurate view of Award prices – BOLD MINE

An accurate view says to me they are stating that the price shown is what the price truly is. On my search above, even went as far as to show, in real time, how many seats at that price – 50,000 each – were remaining per passenger.

The same thing goes for our return trip. There were 3 seats in the 50,000 point redemption for 1st class seats round trip total each (there are only two of us btw).

delta award booking page bait and switch page 4

Even at the last page it confirmed the total miles needed for this trip just like the preceding pages showed. I then went to pay and what do you think happened?

delta award booking page bait and switch page 5

The flight just “sold out”. RATS! Well I guess that can happen. So I log out, clear my cache on my computer, log back in, and guess what I see? The 3 seats are back again just like before! I try to purchase my tickets again and guess what happens. Yep, the same thing all over again.

I call Delta and the medallion representative is able to see the SAME THING at his end. Really? Now he had the power to honor the price shown on both his and my screen, but it is sad you have to call the airline to get the ticket. Plus, without award charts, I bet the average consumer would not know that they can stick to their guns and get that price shown (and have phone booking fees waived since is clearly not working)!

This gets even worse! I posted the other day about one of my trips to and from Sweden I booked on award points. I had the same thing happen with one of the Virgin flights I had tried to book, that is, for the return, it “just sold out”.

The Medallion representative told me – get this – “Oh this happens all the time and can take up to 24 hours for the sold seats to disappear from the system“. Really? So in other words, can display wrong information for up to a full day with partners. That is accurate information?

How can we use this to help us? In my case, the representative did the right thing and honored the price. With partners Delta can not FORCE space so no joy there. But what they can do is match the price shown on in points on Delta metal and that is what they did in my case. They matched the LEVEL 1 seats on Delta jets that were showing a much higher award LEVEL total since the web site clearly displayed what the price should be at purchase. Again good of them to honor the price, as they should, just sad that you have to call to get this done! – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Rene, It would be interesting for you to try again today to book the same flights to see if the 3 seats were still there.

  2. Good morning Rene,

    With all due respect, it’s misleading to title this post “bait and switch is alive and well,” given your experience:

    1. you got a large trove of points sucessfully redeemed at level 1.

    2. When you called them on a discrepancy between what you should have been able to get and what gave you, *they fixed it.*

    3. Beyond that, *they matched the excellent deal on 3d party metal with the same deal on delta metal.*

    Look, I’m no fan of the yanking of the award miles chart either. I can understand your anger, and relate myself as someone who’s redeeming seven figures of miles myself in 2015. But a more balanced picture of what you experienced would boost your credibility and suit your readers better.

    All the best, Dave

    • @Dave – How else would you describe Delta CLEARLY posting there were 3 seats at a given price, twice, and they were not there. There was NO WAY to do it online without paying a HIGHER price for the seats. Sorry – a spade is a spade for this one. Txs – Rene

      • Rene, thanks for your reply.

        To answer your question, IF they hadn’t corrected the web site’s failure to deliver you what they offered, THEN I’d call it a bait-and-switch.

        Instead, they did correct it promptly, acknowledging the problem. Even beyond that, you got a match on Delta metal.

        Bottom line: as I understood it, you got what you came for, and Delta took care of you. That’s not the impression the title of this blog post would lead one to believe.

        Cheers, Dave

        • @Dave – Again, ONLY because I called. There was NO WAY to do this online. Delta TOUTS the web page as accurate. It is not. Agree?

  3. Rene,
    Same thing happened to me with my RT to Italy, Biz Class seats, although the final page didn’t say sold out, the Delta Site Froze and so I had to call the medallion line. All worked out in the end, but again it was an extra call.

    • @Tom – Delta has been having a few days of bad IT issues. Great they honored the price. The have been VERY GOOD about that and I give them FULL CREDIT for doing the right thing. Just wish they could fix the IT issues.

  4. Rene, absolutely the IT department hasn’t delivered, as your reply to Tom notes. They’ve long had IT problems, and IMO the many changes they implemented for 2015 (good and bad) can only have aggravated them.

    It sounds like we are now in rough agreement, as you are giving Delta “FULL CREDIT for doing the right thing.”

    My main point was that the title for this blog post does not convey anything like that impression. Make sense?

  5. traderprofit Reply

    This has happened to me enough that it’s clearly a DL problem.
    How about 160k RT LAX-SYD, but tack on ORD-LAX and it’s s almost always 370?

    None of this falls under the Supreme Court case. DOT regulates advertising. I had this discussion with DOT and they are wont to take up an advertising case involving FF miles but their atty did not disagree with me.
    Rene, your blog, though likely not intended, has kept me from ever booking DL except with miles I didn’t pay for.

  6. I have reached the “sold out” message 4 times yesterday and today while trying to book tickets. Only…the agent at the Diamond desk would not help me get the tickets at the advertised mileage. She could see the inventory as well but says the problem was with AF not releasing the seats. Then why is it on the website as book able for two days ( and even now)? I asked to be placed on DL metal for the same milage but was refused. I told her their website was dishonest and a mirage. I spend $40 k a year on DL and I think this program has become worthless.

  7. Hi Rene,

    I agree Layla’s experience is regrettable. Ideally, Delta would do what they did for you, and match *on Delta metal* what showed for AF on .

    Since you asked, I’ll give you my humble opinion RE your blog post title. First, that wasn’t *your* experience (indeed it was the opposite), so making a claim otherwise based on *your” experience seems unwarranted to me.

    Second, I don’t think problems booking 3d party metal rise to a level of a Delta “bait and switch” at all, much less suggest it is SOP for Delta. We all know Delta’s site shows bad 3d party availability from time to time (as do other airlines in my experience).

    Irritating? Sure. Reason for more IT fixes at delta? Absolutely. Evidence of deliberate Delta bait and switch? I don’t think so, FWIW.

  8. Some people may not like the bait and switch terminology, but everyone should agree that it is wrong and should not happen. I think Rene’s point is that 99.9% of the general public would NOT call and would just end up paying the higher price. simply should not show seats as available if you are not able to book them online via The code built into the website knows that you can’t book the flight so it won’t let you, so there’s no reason that same code couldn’t have been applied to the search and filtered out those seats at the beginning of the search. If those seats are in some odd transition state waiting to be magically released (if you actually buy that as valid) then the search results should filter them out since you can’t book that flight. Those seats should only show in the search results when you can actually book a flight with them.

    Yesterday, I booked a flight while I was loggined into (as a Diamond) and it would not let me pick seats because all that was left was premium seats. I was able to book the flight. I logged out and back in to see if the seats issue was fixed and my flight wasn’t even appearing. What had happened was that my Skymiles account hadn’t been posted to the flight (even though I booked it while logged in). I had to call the Diamond desk to get them to fix it so I could then pick my seats.

  9. @ Dave,

    I know Rene does not need me or anyone else defending him, but the title of the story is accurate if you are a relatively new reader of the blog or relatively new to I have been a delta frequent flyer almost since its inception but I have still learned a ton of good information from Rene’s blog. This is a classic case of bait and switch on deltas part: they are hoping that you just take what they give you but Rene is correctly pointing out that you have to call and hope you get an agent who does the right thing. And, I can assure you, if that agent hadn’t done the right thing, Rene would tell you to HUCB!

  10. I actually got lucky with that.
    The system was showing me a 160,000 ticket for business class (international), but when I got to the last page – it dropped:)))
    I was quite happy about this:)))))

    • @Kate – well that does happen now and then too (just not as often). be sure to take screen shots BEFORE you click buy in case they “sell out” you can have proof of what it once was. 😉

  11. John DELTA Reply

    @René & @Dave H –

    The way I see it even René you are wrong on how you think you can go ahead and find low level Awards.

    Your example is based on previous knowledge upon the charts which no longer exists. Therefore if someone new came along they would not know what a low level award would be anymore because what if Delta has changed it?

    So in your example if they say it’s 200,000 miles for the entire segment, and you cannot figure out a way to find a low level for that date or any dates; it becomes whatever Delta says.

    Or say there is an error, or bait-and-switch? A person would have no foundation to base an argument or plea to a DELTA rep.

    What if, in your example Renee it was 37,500 miles each individual domestic segment before you even got to the International segment?

    What could you do if you can’t find the low-level Awards because they’re not available because Delta’s not going to price it that way anymore we’re all stuck!

    So, Dave H, you can see René is quite correct in his fears, more so for the less experienced, certainly!


  12. Pingback: Delta award calendar charging MORE FOR MEDALLIONS on awards than non-medallions! #KeepDescending! - Delta PointsDelta Points

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