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I think the new slimy Delta airfare rule is going to hurt them one day. Do you know all about it?

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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.

from the the delta pro site
These rules should be broken for savings!

Well respected travel writer for the Associated Press SCOTT MAYEROWITZ a few weeks ago had a piece that ran in the Star Tribune that highlighted the nasty new airfare rule that Delta, and virtually simultaneously all the other major airlines btw, put in place.

Delta even spelled it out clearly to travel agents and told them about the routing and pricing changes. My “favorite” part is the last paragraph that says:

“You can book any one way ticket we offer for sale, but we do not recommend using multiple one-way tickets to create connecting itineraries. It increases the likelihood that customers could experience service failures such as lost baggage and missed connections.” –

But, watch out if you book one-way tickets!

In other words, even though we brag we are the “on-time machine”, booking one way tickets is risky and can result in “service failures such as lost baggage and missed connections”. Right. Just how does one reconcile these two statements.

great circle mapper atl-lax-sea-atl
ATL to LAX to SEA to ATL

I thought with help from the Great Circle Mapper I would illustrate the “slimy” new rules for you and show you in just one simple example how much this can and would cost you if you just book on

1 way 1

1 way 2

1 way 3

Notice if we fly out this Monday April 18th in the morning from Atlanta to Los Angeles. We do what we need to do there and then on Wednesday the 20th we pop up to Seattle for another meeting. We get that done and fly home on Thursday the 21st. If we add up the price of each of these one-way jumps we come up with a grand total, for the 3 one way tickets, of $1020.30. Not cheap but we are talking flights in just a few days. Now if we use we can find hack fares for under $500 but that is not the point for today.

delta-com multi tool search
Funny, the upgrade price is PER segment ☹

Notice what happens to the price of these 3 one way fares if we use the multi-city tool and select the exact same flights. $1296.70! Yep, almost 30% more for the exact same flights on one itinerary vs booking them as 3 separate one way tickets.

Is that slimy? You tell me.

Are there any workarounds? There don’t seem to be. I am a HUGE advocate of always starting your flight searches at as you can compare what other airlines are charging as well as tinker with routes that will simply not book no matter what you do. But notice what happens when you plug in the dates and flights and choose Delta only on Kayak now (for the same flights).

kayak no help delta 3 leg
No help from to save $$$

Delta has done a bunch to upset business travelers over the past few years. They have changed the SDC & SDS that is same day change and same day standby rules over and over. They have made upgrades, something that was all but assured for top elites, a lottery game where folks at the last minute jump in at often super cheap prices and buy an upgrade (even for less than $10). Now we have this latest change to extract more money for the exact same flights.

I really don’t know where this will end. Delta is upsetting just about everyone nowadays from the once a year passenger who is hit with fee after fee to the destruction of the SkyMiles program as well as the Medallion program and yet they just keep flying full. I guess Delta can do just about anything?

You tell me, did you know about this latest change in pricing? Does it in any way impact your choice to keep flying Delta? – René


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. Renee – another great post, The situation angers all of us, but we have no choice, do we? Domestic travel has been consolidated among 3 airlines, and they know planes will fly full whatever they do. On a LAX-BOS-LAX flight, I paid $374 – all 3 airlines fly non-stop in this route. But in the same week, I flew BOS-Grand Forks (North Dakota)-BOS and paid $1274! Why? I had to fly thru Delta hub Minneapolis, and Grand Forks is served only by Delta. Of course, all those fuel charges have been absorbed into the ticket prices, even though the fuel prices are way lower.

    Shame on the regulators for approving all of these mergers. Or celebrate the power of free market. Take your pick.

  2. Santastico Reply

    Rene: totally off topic but wanted to get your thoughts on this. I am a PM and flew over 10 times out of MSP this year to domestic locations like JFK, SFO, SAN, OMA, IND. I was upgraded 2 or 3 days before my flight in every flight out of MSP which is a busy Delta hub but was NEVER upgraded on the return flights. Just wondering if this is just a coincidence or if there is something else behind the scenes. I would not expect to be upgraded out of MSP 100% of the times but I am surprised to not score a single upgrade on the return.

    • @Santastico – I clearly do not have an inside look at the alchemy that REV MGT uses to allocate UG space but here is an educated guess from my many flights each year and other reader input. They are giving away your UG seats on those routes that are historically not going to sell. On those that do sell they are playing the game where the keep dropping the FCM to buy-up to first day after day as I have posted over and over. Thus, they one way or another get those routes sold even if at a lower price.

  3. Hate the new policy, but won’t necessarily drive me away from Delta because, as you noted, the other major carriers seem to have (suspiciously, if you ask me) adopted it as well. So, I’ll just continue to be a free agent and book with whatever airline is best for me each time I fly.

  4. Rene, I had to book a four segment itinerary with 2 weeks notice going MSP-DCA-LAX-PHX-MSP. The multi city pricing was over $1600. Buying it as one-ways and using DL brought a fare of just over $500. The savings here was overwhelming, a no-brainer. But there’s a dilemma when the savings isn’t so great. If the segment by segment fare had come to, say, $1200, it would seem to still be a better deal. But if your plans change, you would be dinged for $800 in change fees on the four tickets, compared to only $200 on the multi-city ticket. It’s an unfortunate downside risk, and I’d remind folks to carefully consider the possibility their plans will change.

    • @Royce – But to me worrying about change fee (when the price as you point out is HUGE) is like paying for trip insurance for each flight i.e. add them up over time and you are most times better off rolling the dice. Plus, for those who are elites, there are many times ways to get around those fees 😉

  5. I believe their recommendation on connecting flights is when you’re going from A to B through C and it may be cheaper to purchase two separate one ways vs one ticket. If you have a layover of an hour or two I think their point is valid regarding luggage missing connections etc. you’d have to claim it and re check it, right?

    • @Matt – Not the way I read it. I see no such disclaimer. Seems to be a flat out we don’t recommend this.
      Plus, who would do such a thing. If you have a 1 hour meeting would you check bags, have the quick meeting, then fly on? I don’t get it.

  6. Santastico Reply

    Here was my experience when booking my upcoming summer vacation. My family of 4 is flying MSP-FCO-MSP using Skypesos but I needed the European flights and the best way was to book with Alitalia. I went to Alitalia website and looked for 4 tickets FCO-ATH-NAP-FCO. The total cost was close to $8k. When I called Alitalia the agent advised me to look at one way tickets. I booked the same itinerary on their website in 3 one way segments and the 4 tickets for all segments cost me less than $2k. Yes, in the event of changes or cancellations I now have 12 tickets instead of 4 to change but still the price difference was just crazy.

    • @Santastico – Thanks ever so much for your feedback and comment. I agree, I will take the savings up front and take the risk for THAT kind of money.

  7. Ruby @ A Journey We Love Reply

    I moved over to low cost budget airlines or flying American now.

    I only take Delta if there really is no other choice, but haven’t flown them for the past two years (hurrah for me and finding other routes)

    Are ultra low cost budget airlines better? No. But for the price, I’ll get what I paid for, that will eventually take me to the place I’ll need to go.
    For roundtrip airfares less than $100, I can’t complain.

  8. Another “benefit” of the one-ways, if I’m not mistaken, is that you can change any segment prior to flying without re-buying/pricing the entire trip. Risk and reward I guess.

  9. TravelerNic Reply

    I think that @Matt was thinking what I was re: the danger of booking 2 one-ways for onward travel. i.e. flying DTW-LAX. Let’s day the best price is for DTW-MSP-LAX. You might find that pricing two one-ways, DTW-MSP and MSP-DTW , is cheaper than one ticket DTW-LAX even if the flights are on the exact same planes. The issue arises if the DTW-MSP flight is delayed and you miss your MSP-LAX flight. That can result in an issue.

  10. I have noticed inconsistencies like this for the past year and the UTTERLY DISGUST ME! I have 34 employees and I now require them to look at other airlines and Google Flights before they book a Delta Flight because the Website, in my opinon, is CRIMINAL in the way they do things like you have cited in your example. I have had this happen with my travel and dozen’s and dozen’s of my employees and complained vigoriously to no avail. I even get people on Diamond line who tell me is really bothers them and “feels dishonest.” Sad thing is Delta is a hub for my main office and offers best flights so, as one employee said, “Flying Delta is like continuing to date the hot girl you liked in college even after you find out she is using you and has other boyfriends on the side. You just cannot stop yourself.” In my case though I have shifted about 20% of our travel away from Delta due to this LOUSY, SNEAKY, DISHONEST behavior and if ANY AIRLINE AT ALL shows up in our market that has strong flight connections where we fly for work BYE BYE CHEATING GIRLFRIEND!

  11. Seems the airlines are also using this price strategy on regular one way trips. I priced DEN-HNL and it was $1100-1200 one way on AA. But DEN-LAX was $134 and LAX-HNL was $275. It was a no brainier to book 2 one way tickets for $409. DL and UA were both more than the 2 one way ticket price on AA. Guess we’ll have to start shopping all the options no matter what type of ticket you’re purchasing.

    • @Deborah – I think this will also have the unintended result of more folks booking “hidden city” tickets as well.

  12. This is what happens when there is no competition which why the FF programs will soon disappear – there is no need for them.

  13. Delta can make all the rule changes it wants but if it doesn’t fix its website I won’t be buying any delta products. This past week, I have tried to book four different flights and it took at least 30 minutes each time because I kept getting the error message, “the website had a problem and the page is being reloaded.” Is that deltas’ way of making you just pick a flight and don’t try to compare different routes, etc.? So frustrating!

  14. And yet you want us to reward them with glowing survey results. Every survey I fill out is lower than low. Delta is a corporate entity and any employee is guilty of feeding the mothership.

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