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.
One of my favorite jokes someone once told me about Delta is that they are not really an airline. They said while they look like they are an airline, they actually are a law firm that just happens to also fly airplanes. Plus, most folks do not think twice about the FIFTY ONE page domestic COC or Contract of Carriage they are agreeing to when they “click buy” for a Delta ticket or the SEVENTY ONE (yes, 71) page COC when booking an international ticket.
In fact, I doubt most fliers have ever even taken the time read the COC in their lifetime. Beyond that the COC changes constantly and the COC that matters is the one that was in effect the day you purchased your ticket, not the current one on Delta.com here for domestic and here for international.
So let’s get right to the heart of the matter as a reader pointed out the other day that it would be good to have a post stating just what Delta does or does not owe you in case of whatever in including things like canceled flights and long delays. If you search the word “delay” or “cancel” in the COC a number of hits come up and the most important bits are simply this – Delta legal does not owe you much – but will do their best to take care of you if the problem is their fault and get you to where you need to go. They will often times even put you up in a hotel as well.
But if it is weather, that is another issue. And as I have seen first hand, Delta can claim weather when it really is not and there is very little you can do about it. It is better to be proactive than trust the airline to cover everything!
Because of all of the above, most folks who travel often choose to pay for travel (or at least part of the travel) with the “right” travel card. One of the best for this is the Citi Prestige card. Yes, it has a steep $450 per year fee but it gives you $250 back each year in travel credits so if you use this it could be looked at as a net $200 per year card even if just for travel insurance. The key part is it kicks in at the 3 hour mark.
The next best one is the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card that does about the same thing as the Citi Prestige, but it kicks in at the 6 hour mark (or either one for an overnight).
While there can be exceptions, both of these cards cover you if you pay for a “portion” of the fare with the card. Award tickets they explicitly cover if you use their points to pay in part or in full, but I have had reports of others getting coverage even on other frequent flyer tickets as long as anything was paid with the card so just know this can be a YMMV situation. Bottom line is up to $500 per ticket you are basically covered. Read the T&C for either the Citi Prestige card here or the Chase Sapphire Reserve card here if you want to know the fine details.
Clearly this quick post only scratches the surface of just what you can get. There are a number of other factors that come into play like:
- Are you traveling out of the EU?
- What if you are forcibly bumped?
- How about delayed bags?
And on and on and there is no quick “one post” way to address them all. The bottom line is that in each unique case it is up to us to find out:
- Was it weather (or is the airline claiming weather)?
- How long was the delay?
- What will the airline offer you per the COC?
- Do local / or international rules apply?
- Can your travel card help you?
- Is there a better way to get to where you want to go?
With all this in mind you can read up on what “boxes” you can check off in your specific travel circumstances and then make the call. This could mean you either press the airline for what you are due or simply ask them for hotel or meal or other vouchers to help you out. If you, on your own, can find a better way to get from A-B suggest it and see if they are willing to help. If you get nothing but no-no-no from the airline, save all your receipts and after the fact see what you can get back if you paid for the ticket with the “right” travel card.
For me this is why I always pay for any of my Delta tickets with my CSR card. If my issue is less that 6 hours, as a Delta Diamond, they are just going to make my problems go away one way or another or I can go to a Sky Club and or spend some time at an XpresSpa to kill the delay. Longer than that and I have my travel insurance covered for up to $500 per trip. But not everyone can get the CSR due to Chase’s horrid 5/24 rule and thus they hold and pay for all tickets with the Citi Prestige card as a great second choice that kicks in even faster – that is, at the 3 hour mark. Perhaps consider the annual fee your yearly travel insurance cost (at least that is how I look at it).
Any questions or comments about travel delays or cancellations flying Delta? Fire away in the comments section below! – René