Rookie Wednesday: Delta – What if I… (or) Do I need to… (or ) What happens if…

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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.


Yes, it is very confusing to fly Delta!

Delta has a ton of rules and regulations (some followed to the letter, some not so much) as well as layers upon layers of confusion so it is not surprising that folks can be confused at times. Even I have to check the T&C now and then when we get to the nit picky nuances of some little bits. Plus, if you are not a regular Delta flyer, you may be confused because one airline does something one way while Delta does it another way. Let’s look at a number of these and clear them up:

Q) Do I need to pay for a Delta ticket with my Delta credit card to get a free bag(s)?
A) No. Just make sure it is in your “My Delta” profile but bring it when you fly just in case.

Q) I have the Delta AMEX (Gold, Platinum or Reserve) that comes with a free bag(s). If I buy a ticket for my mom does she get the perk?
A) Only if you are flying with her on the SAME reservation.

Q) What happens if I choose a “Cash & Miles” ticket? Do I earn points?
A) No. Cash & Miles is like an award ticket you earn nothing at all.

Q) What if I choose a Pay With Miles ticket. Do I earn points?
A) Yes. You earn FULL MQMs but only SkyMiles on the cash part paid (less taxes & fees).

Q) What happens if I cancel a Delta Platinum or Reserve card to my yearly BOGO cert?
A) It sticks in your My Delta till the expiration date and you can still spend it (pay with any AMEX card).

Q) What happens if I cancel a Delta AMEX card. Do my points go away?
A) No*. I say no with an * because once you earn them they are yours at and do not ever expire. However, if you are REALLY quick to cancel a card AMEX could suck them back.

Q) I have (or will have) Global or Regional upgrades but will drop in status next year. What happens if I try to spend them next year?
A) You can spend them anyway as they are good to use / fly till the expiration date.

Q) If I gift Silver status to someone, do they only need half the miles to become Gold?
A) No. You have gifted them status ONLY! They would still need to fly 50k (+MQD spend) to become Gold.

Q) What if I see LEVEL 1 award space on KLM for a Delta flight. Will Delta match it with SkyMiles awards?
A) No. Award space that Delta allocates to partners is not equal to their space.

Q) What if I have a ticket I can not fly. Is it worth the fee to cancel or re-deposit my miles?
A) Maybe. First off, call. There may be a schedule change or something that allows the fee to be waived. If not, you may be able to get some kind of one time exception (be nice).

Q) What happens if I get to the gate and they force me to check my bag. Is there a fee?
A) No. In fact many “game” the system this way to avoid bag fees.

And I bet you have a few more of your own “what if” or “what happens” Q&A and I am happy to answer them below in the comments section of the post.

Now the only real final question is will the Delta rep you speak to know the rules and give you the right answer you need when you need it! – René


  1. Regarding the free bag/Amex questions. I always am able to use it with colleagues/family traveling on different reservations than my own. Delta has told me, in writing, that the Amex benefit can be used on anyone traveling with you (on a separate res) if you accompany them to the counter, where they manually process the baggage waiver. I’ve used this multiple times over the last two years.

  2. @Bobby – Correct (unofficially). You must be all flying the same flights and preferably LINK the reservations.

  3. My what happens that this rookie was not happy about recently: what happens if you want to use your companion certificate for a two-night trip? Well, if I had read the fine print I would have known you can’t. I would probably not have signed up for and now paid for two years of annual fees to get one free ticket that I can only use on 3 night or more trips. Very disappointed. I had planned to use it to take a companion on business trips once a year but my trips are rarely more than 2 nights. Wish that nugget was publicized more.

  4. @Beth – Not all fare require this but yes most: “Most fares require an advance purchase of up to 14 days, a 3 night minimum stay and a 30-day maximum stay. All fare rules, restrictions, advance purchase requirements, and availability are per rule of Primary Ticket fare purchased. “

  5. Ya, my point was when they upsell you on that card, that fact is not well publicized. I bet many don’t know this. and in my case it’s Deltas loss as I was trying to use it on a $222 fare. But not a loss to them if I don’t get a chance again this year. If it says most fares require this, any idea which ones don’t?

  6. @Beth – You would have to search and see. It can also depend on what airport you are departing from. Even with the restrictions it is a valuable perk.

  7. I just don’t like when they make perks difficult to use so they can end up becoming value less. But I guess that’s the name of the game for the airlines. Thanks, Rene.

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