Rookie Wednesday: What are the best ways to avoid Delta fees (of all kinds).

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog 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.

Do you know what has changed since 2014 when CNN wrote the above piece? Now over 3 years later the airlines, including our dearest Delta, are just “killing it” and awash in mega fees. Good for them? They are getting suckers fools chumps passengers willing to pay for things they really should not. But what about you and me? I would rather not give my hard earned money to Delta for junk fees so let’s look at ways to avoid them!

Elite status. Let me start with the fact that earning status is not going to be as simple in 2018 as it is now in 2017. That does not mean that status does not still have big value in avoiding fees. Lower levels get waived bag fees. Step up the ladder and same day change fees are waived. As a top elite most times when it comes to change fees and such they are most times waived even before I ask.

Hold Delta / Amex CO-Branded credit card. While not a replacement for status it can give you much. You do not have to pay for bags or priority boarding. The top Reserve card even gets you, in many places, priority at TSA check points even with a coach ticket. The bottom line is this can save you fees each and every year.

The “Mighty Schedule Change” rule. This is the most important thing every Delta flyer needs to know and learn to love. Yes, it is a royal pain to each week have to check your flights to see what Delta has brought down upon you, but this can also be a way to avoid fees if you need to cancel. Has there been a big change – waive all the fees and give me my money back!

A Delta mistake! Oh this one is hard as no one, especially Delta, likes it when you point out that whatever went wrong. Say there was an IT issue or a delay or a downgrade in service or you name it – if Delta made a mistake you can point this out as a way of asking them to waive a fee.

Just break the rules. This one can be hard. Like, really hard (as talked about in my post the other day). You have to come up with a really good reason to justify a Delta rep going out of their way to break a rule for you or even to slightly bend one. Most front line reps will not stick their neck out but on a good day maybe a supervisor will (maybe).

As (or beg) for a one time exception. This is where who you are i.e. your status level or even how much you paid for a ticket can matter i.e. your fare class. If the airline “loves” you enough or you can show that you have already paid a ton they may be more likely to waive some junk fee.

Find workarounds. Want to avoid a bag fee but don’t want to drag your large bag on-board? Get it to the gate and you can check it free. This is just one simple example but for almost any fee there can be some kind of workaround to avoid it.

Try other call centers. Earlier this month I shared all the ways to reach Delta faster. One call center may tell you there is a fee for that while another center may offer to do it for free. A call or two extra, and maybe a tweet, could save you a fee.

If all else fails burn points (just be careful with value). I view this option as an absolute last resort. Delta now lets you flush your SkyMiles down the drain to pay for junk fees. If you value cash more than points then maybe use your SkyMiles to cover costs.

There you are. While Delta does try to junk fee you every single way you turn there can be ways around most of them. Let others pay the fee and you try to fly free!

Are there any other sweet methods you use to avoid junk fees from Delta or other airlines? Let us know in the comments below. – René




One comment

  1. The “best” one they all ever did together (except Southwest) was the” we must charge bag fees to offset fuel price increases’. Then this never went away when fuel prices decreased. Billions in profit earned from this change. They must still be high fiving each other at all the HQs thinking how do we pull that off again with another new fee?

    Honorable mention: No guests in clubs going foward with your membership.

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