Rookie Wednesday: Why “paper” still trumps so much with Delta #KillTreesForPerks!

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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.

tweets about reserve card priority security

RenesPoints twitter follower Michelle the other day brought up one of the many reasons it is always so smart to have a paper copy of your boarding pass “just in case” when you are flying Delta. Now this specific situation will not affect most flyers, but then again, maybe it does and I just don’t realize it. Take a look at the tweet above as well as the following screen shot below from the AMEX T&C for the Delta AMEX Reserve card <–LINK .

from amex tandc reg delta reserve card

I hope you notice the highlighted part. When it comes to TSA lines, it is VERY nice to first and foremost be part of TSA PreCheck (I get mine fee free as it is rebated back when I pay with my non-Delta AMEX Platinum card <–LINK). But the next best thing after PreCheck is “priority” for those who, for example, have a first class ticket or are an elite and get access to the Sky Priority lines. But there is the big catch if you only hold the Delta Reserve card:

You have to have a paper boarding pass!

Yep. Let’s say you are NOT a medallion (or in 1st class), but do hold the Delta AMEX Reserve card for all the perks like Skyclub access etc., you cannot use the Sky Priority security line unless you have printed a paper boarding pass. So please kill a tree and enjoy the perks.

my only credit card in my delta is my delta amex reserve card renespoints blog

And, if you are somewhat leery about Delta IT (like I clearly am) then you may want to follow my advice and make sure your Delta AMEX Reserve card is, not just in your “My Delta profile, but the ONLY card in your profile so it can get you into Skyclubs without needing to pull out your card and to help score more 1st class upgrades! 🙂

Let’s consider a bunch of other situations that also show why it really is smart to have at least a backup copy of your boarding pass on paper when flying with Delta.

delta air lines self check in kiosk stock photo renespoints blog

The fly Delta app is great but not always perfect. It can be slow to pull up at times (gosh I hate that when that happens just when you walk up to TSA PreCheck). While it has never happened to me personally, your battery may die then what do you do? No matter what the situation it is good to have a paper copy of your boarding pass close at hand should you need it at security. I normally print them at home or use a Delta kiosk when I get to the airport.

Next we have bumpertunities and other Delta people related issues. We should all know, a VAST majority of the time, the “paper list” that is, the list the Delta gate agent writes down on a piece of paper, trumps anything digital for when a flight is oversold and you want to be number one on the list to give up your seat for a shot at a bump and a voucher. I often offer up my boarding pass for them to HOLD just so they have all my info if they need me. I even mention I have my digital one so they can keep that one if they need me for whatever. 😉

The Club at ATL showers RenesPoints blog

Then we have the many other times having paper is just either needed or helps. If you do visit clubs that are not in the Delta system they do not always like your digital boarding pass. Plus, let’s say you go take a shower at their facility. I have found they sometimes want to keep your boarding pass until you are finished and this is especially so if you request a hair dryer as they want to make sure you give it back to them (apparently they walk off – sigh). I have even had Delta reps a few times do the same thing and if I did not have a paper boarding pass they printed one themselves to hold.

Bottom line is that there are a number of other situations that can arise where it can be beneficial to have a paper copy on had but I think this list is long enough for today for you to get the idea. So please kill a tree for your next flight as to me the perks, the comfort and the issues that can and do arise make it worthwhile to have a backup with me at all times when I fly Delta! – René


  1. This is outstanding advice…I do this on all my flights and tonight / today on my (as René calls it “cray cray”) 8-flight Mileage Run I broke the Delta system. Neither the website nor the FlyDelta app could keep up with my segments. In fact I had one flight listed as MSP-MSP, go figure. Gate agents were unable to help them off and they were not the point of departure for the check-in window.

    Luckily, along my way I collected one or two paper boarding passes at a time. Without them I would have been unable to board, or volunteer to be bumped.

    Thank goodness for the folks at the SkyClubs who seem to be the only individuals able to get any results.

    Always print a boarding pass!

    By the way René, gate agents are amused at our mileage run antics.

    Love this advice René

  2. Good post with excellent tips to follow. One nit pick though. Many bloggers say that great credit card benefits like covering TSAPre fees are free. Because those cards have annual fees, IMO the perks they provide aren’t free. They just come at no additional cost. Still a good deal.

  3. Very good advice. On my trip home from Helsinki, I missed my connection in AMS due to weather. I finally got on a flight on stand by but the miles never posted and Delta would not give them to me. They said they could not find any record of me on the stand by flight. The gate agent in AMS had to create a whole new reservation due to my original one being messed up and no time to sort it out before departure. She not only spelled my name incorrectly, she did not put in my FF #. I was just grateful she made the extra effort to get me on the flight. But if I had not kept the paper boarding pass (it didn’t even have a ticket number on it either) as documentation I would not have gotten the miles credited.

  4. i had the digital boarding pass fail at the TSA check once. I had to go all the way back to Check In to get a paper boarding pass. From then on I have always had a paper boarding pass as back up.
    Excellent advice Rene

  5. @Rene, I hear you and agree that many of the cards with large annual fees offer benefits that have greater value than the fee paid provided I use and need those benefits. Still that doesn’t make the benefits free for me since my bank account is still minus the annual fee paid to get those wonderful perks. It is merely a matter of point of view and semantics since I agree that cards with a large annual fee can provide great value. I’ll use your advice regarding annual fees when it comes time to renew.

  6. When my husband and I travel – I always, always keep the boarding passes until we get home and I find that the appropriate miles have posted on our Delta record. Have especially found that internationally boarding passes were just invaluable items to retain
    to resolve flight changes when they happen. Would add that the same is true of carrying one’s’ Delta Medallion card. Thank you, Rene, for again mentioning what may seem obvious to a long time flyer – but perhaps not so to someone new in this “game”.

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