OUTSTANDING – Delta now extending GIFT CARD choice for customer service issues!

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This is such good, and amazing, news. But before I get ahead of myself let me give you some important background information.

When a Delta flight is oversold, that is they sold more tickets than there are seats on the jet, the airline has a number of options they can choose. The simplest and best one for the airline, that normally works very well, is to ask for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for a travel voucher that is good for one year. As an FYI you can fly it one year beyond that expiration date as long as you book it before the expiration date.

But for us the downside of these Delta vouchers is that, officially, only you or someone flying with you can redeem them. Another drawback is you can not combine more than one of these per ticket (you could in the past). The last downside for us is they are for the most part only good on tickets.

The next option for Delta, if folks are not willing to offer up their seats, is to not let them board the aircraft – even when they have a confirmed ticket! Clearly this is not a good choice as you are really going to make a customer unhappy and it can cost Delta a lot of REAL money for doing this. I was once on a CRJ200 flight where, due to a number of issues, they had to get 8 people off the flight. They gave 6 of us volunteers $1000 vouchers each but 2 people they simply forced off the flight. It was an ugly scene as you can imagine.


Another option that Delta has been experimenting with is giving a passenger a choice of gift cards rather than just an airline voucher for voluntarily giving up their seat. I have had this happen once and I just loved it (will tell you why in a bit).

But notice the above two screen shots above. My wife recently had a customer service issue on a Delta flight. To be specific, she offered to give up her seat as the flight was oversold by 5 and the gate agent said they would “definitely” need her seat, would pay her a $600 voucher, and they immediately removed her from her exit row seat with a ton of leg room. You can maybe guess what happened next. They did not need her after all and her seat was now gone and she was squished into the only remaining seat onboard. But the gate agent “promised to take care of her” and said she would see a $200 voucher in her account by the time she landed. Sadly that did not happen.


Time to contact Delta on Delta.com. Within hours an e-mail arrived that Delta was sorry about what happened and would like to not just offer her the promised voucher but a choice of a gift card. OUTSTANDING!


Clearly, to me, there is only one choice of cards and that is the AMEX gift card even with the 6 month expiration date. Why? This is all but cash and cash I like very much.


The redemption was just like the bump choice I mentioned earlier. This process was simple, quick and done.


And once the selection was completed a friendly e-mail was sent confirming the selection and that it would be on the way soon. Sweet! Thank you Delta. There are a number of reasons why this is such great news and why I hope this program expands to be the default option rather than Delta either offering a travel voucher or some SkyMiles when things go wrong.

As mentioned cash is always a better choice because, while a travel voucher does spend like cash when buying a Delta ticket (and does earn you FULL points like cash), you are clearly limited to Delta. Not just that but I would much rather pay for a ticket with some kind of points card that earns bonus points for buying a ticket vs. spending a voucher that does not yield any bonus points. Lastly, almost all of my travel cards offer some kind of travel insurance and I do not get this if I pay in full with a Delta travel voucher. Bottom line, the AMEX gift card wins every time!

So you tell me. Do you like this new option? Have you ever seen this choice from Delta due to a customer service issue? – René



  1. It depends on the size of the gift card, I had the displeasure of only getting to sit on 1/2 my seat because the person sitting next to me took up the other 1/2 (we couldn’t put down the armrest either. Delta offered me a measly $50 gift card. This was completely unacceptable!!! That was probably the worst response ever received except for Hilton’s non response to my anger over it taking an hour + to get a maintenance guy to the hotel to drill through the doorknob and get me in my room when the card reader and override failed to work.

  2. My wife and I offered to be bumped for gift cards earlier this year. The system worked great and we enjoy paying for the groceries and a couple of date nights out – all on Delta.

  3. A relative was recently bounced from a Delta flight in the States and offered a $500 USD gift card. When he got back to Canada and tried to redeem the voucher, he was told that they would only give him C$500, The equivalent of US$373.

    Has anyone else had an experience like this?

  4. I received an American Express Gift card in return for giving up my seat. I had thought that I was to be given cash but a gift card seemed to be just as good. That is until…..you save the card to use for your next trip to the United States (I am Canadian) and see that the card has an expiry date. Look on American Express website which states the card is still valid, just have to call the number on the back of the card and a new one will be issued with any of the unused balance. Call American Express and was told card does indeed and will expire despite what the website says!! NOT IMPRESSED!

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