The above is a screen shot from the generic e-mail Delta Air Lines has sent out to those who were affected by the mostly week long flight cancellations, delays and disruptions. But exactly why did Delta do this? Did you know they did not have to provide you with anything at all? Yep, if we are talking domestic flights all they had to do was at some point get you from A-B or give you a full refund. Seriously, if you don’t believe me read the COC or contract of carriage that you agreed to when you purchased the ticket (but I am sure you did not take the time to read).
So back to why Delta did this when they did not have to. Well, they did have the example of Southwest that offered huge discounts to passengers who were affected by that massive mess that went on for days and days and days. But they did not have to offer any kind of compensation either.
But it brings up the simple question why did Delta not just offer ONLY 20,000 SkyMiles (or some other number) to each affected passenger? The simple answer is not everyone is a SkyMiles member but I think there is really more to it than this.
If Delta had only offered up some number of points as compensation for the mess many in the press would have just crushed them for 1) the issue and then 2) offering hard to spend points for a real issue (as well as bring light on the fact that they HIDE the award charts). While I have no insider info on this you can “bet the cow and the milk” that there is a firm reason that they offered a voucher vs. only SkyMiles. And there are many more reasons. Like what?
Take a quick look at the T&C of the $200 voucher they have and will be giving you. It says “for the next year”. What they don’t quickly tell you is you have one year to spend this voucher and then one more year to complete the flight so you basically have two years total (that is one year to book and one more year to fly). But the point is that you have a limited time to spend these. Delta knows (and I do from reputable sources) that a large portion of the population does NOT spend these vouchers and they will thus just go away. Smart business to offer a monetary gift that becomes worthless with time vs. SkyMiles that “never” expire, that is, until you die they don’t.
There is a big plus for those who got these vs. only SkyMiles. If you spend an ETV, like these, it is just like spending cash, that is, you can earn SkyMiles, MQDs and MQMs for your flights. You can also, as a medallion, get upgrades etc. You can spend it on any Delta flights and it’s partners, that is, think if you can book it on Delta.com you can spend the voucher on it (for example a Virgin Atlantic code share flight).
Another key point for you to know is when you go to book they will tell you only one per trip but if you have more than one person with one of these you can both spend them if you are both on the same PNR or itinerary. If they push back HUCB until you find a rep that will do what is right.
One last word of warning if you got one of these and your delay was out of Europe. As we all should know they have the EU261 rule that can mean you will get real cash back for many delays of more than 3 hours. It may take a real fight to get what you should but the rules say you should get it. I would reach out to AirHelp.com to check to see if you are eligible for a payment or not (or start by asking Delta direct and wait for them to say no then reach out to AirHelp).
The bottom line is even though Delta was very generous to offer this voucher, and SkyMiles to some, as it was thought out as to just why this choice was made. Everything Delta does it does for a reason. Now it is up to you to remember you have the voucher as they will NOT alert you that is about to expire or that you have money reaming to spend. Delta kindness, after all, only goes so far! – René