Rookie Wednesday: Do you ever read Delta’s COC i.e. Contract of Carriage? (You really should once in a while you know!)

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular 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 featured topic.

Humm… just 3%

Before we dive too far into today’s post – let me freely admit, when it comes to say installing an app, I tend to scroll to the bottom and simply hit install. When it comes to airline tickets I do not, before I buy, check the latest update to the COC (example – Delta’s latest domestic one was updated on November 2nd of 2018). In a Twitter poll this month only 3% of @RenesPoints readers voted that they checked every time they clicked buy as you can see from the above. But what about ever reading a COC?

Only 13% – Really?

The results are not that much better with only 13% having EVER read through the rather lengthy COC from Delta (btw they have different ones domestic and international). This result was a little disappointing to me as we all should, at least once a year, look over the COC to know what we are agreeing to when we buy an airline ticket.

I think Peter is a wise man!

Why should you do this? Well, as mentioned, you should at least be aware of what you are agreeing to when you click “buy now” on – right? Beyond that, there can be things that come up that you can use to your advantage (if you know the COC that is – see above Tweets).

I though I would share some of the gems from the Delta domestic COC you may be shocked to learn you have agreed to. Take a look and note I have added some bold highlights to most of the quotes:

“RULE 7: REFUSAL TO TRANSPORT – Search of Passenger or Property. When a passenger refuses to permit search of his person or property for explosives, weapons, dangerous materials, or other prohibited items.” –

Would you, when you have done nothing wrong at all, be offended if a Delta uniformed person informed you they were going to go through all your stuff? What about searching YOU? They can – you did agree to let them in the COC. What else?

“8) When the passenger’s conduct, attire, hygiene or odor creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers.” –

The most obvious ones when this has come into play is when offensive or dangerous words are printed on a shirt that bothers someone (especially someone who works for Delta). Just be sure you are clean showered and not offensive to anyone when you fly! 🙂

D) Where a ticket is invalidated as the result of the passenger’s non-compliance with any term or condition of sale, Delta may:
A) Cancel any remaining portion of the passenger’s itinerary or bookings,
B) Confiscate any unused portion of the ticket,
C) Refuse to board the passenger or check the passenger’s baggage, and/or
D) Assess the passenger for the reasonable remaining value of the ticket, which shall be
no less than the difference between the fare actually paid and the lowest fare applicable
to the passenger’s actual itinerary” –

If you do anything that does not comply with COC you agreed that not only can Delta tell you that you are not flying but simply tell you to go away and give you nothing back. Remember – you did agree to these rules even if you did not take the time to read them! What else?

B) Erroneous Fares. Delta will exercise reasonable efforts to ensure that all fares it publishes are accurate and available for sale, but Delta, as a policy, does not file nor intend to file tickets priced at a zero fare or that are erroneous or reasonably apparent as erroneous. If an erroneous fare is inadvertently published for sale and a ticket is issued at the erroneous fare before it has been corrected, Delta reserves the right to cancel the ticket purchase and refund all amounts paid by the purchaser or, at the purchaser’s option, to reissue the ticket for the correct fare” –

It is sad that if you make a booking mistake you only have 24-ish hours to cancel and get a full refund. Delta can wait as long as they want and if they find there is a mistake they can cancel your ticket and give you your money back. Clearly there are other rules by the government in place that may mean Delta has to pay for other things you have booked that are nonrefundable but that could be a real fight to get back! What about an oversold situation. Take a look at this:

“Passengers holding tickets for confirmed space in the First or Business class cabin, SkyMiles members identified with a DM, PM, or GM elite-status designation, and passengers holding tickets purchased under a DL corporate travel agreement will be accommodated before other passengers holding tickets and/or boarding passes for confirmed space in the Coach cabin.” –

Notice something missing? While I am a Delta Diamond or DM I am also, as a 1 million miler, “lifetime-ish” i.e. annual free FO or Silver Medallion. I am not much loved under an oversold situation accommodation. There is more fun stuff when it comes to being forced off a jet. Notice the following:

” G) Time of Payment for Involuntary Denied Boarding Compensation. If all conditions for compensation are met, Delta will pay any involuntary denied boarding compensation on the day and at the place where the denial of boarding occurred, in cash or immediately negotiable check; provided, however, that if the alternative transportation arranged for the passenger’s convenience departs before the payment can be made to the passenger, then payment will be made by mail or other means within 24 hours after the denied boarding occurs” –

Yep, you can demand CASH or a CHECK that day. Now I am sure a gate agent or red coat would hum and haw and try to give you a voucher or whatever but know that you have a contract when you purchased your ticket and the agent can not override or change it (only a “Delta corporate officer” can do this)! You know what else the COC shows us?

“The Carrier will use the following booking class hierarchy (displayed from highest to lowest) when replacing fares for flown fare components:
First Class/Delta One – F P A G J C D I Z
Delta Comfort+ –W
Main Cabin – Y B M H Q K L U T X V
Basic Economy – E” –

We have the published fare class letter hierarchy. Yes, I know it is published in other places but it is just fun to see this in black and white. OK one last bit for today.

“B. Voluntary Refunds. 1. Nonrefundable Tickets. In the event of death of the passenger prior to the date of travel, tickets issued at nonrefundable fares will be refunded to the deceased passengers’ estate upon request” –

It is nice that if your loved one dies a nonrefundable ticket can be canceled and the money given back to you. However, I see this as a DELTA TRAP because if Delta gets wind that your loved one has died then they can suck back the “valuable” Delta   “Skypennies”   frequent flyer miles  of the deceased flyer. So, be sure to spend them first then tell Delta you want the money back for the tickets the dead person can not fly!

Clearly there are lots of other relevant bits in the dozens of pages long COC and other parts may be much more relevant for whatever your situation is that arrived like having to overnight and Delta providing a hotel room and so on. But that is why we should take the time to read this contract at least once a year to know what you are accepting when you buy a Delta ticket!

Are you surprised to find any of the above wording is included in each and every Delta ticket you buy? Have you ever been saved by knowing more than Delta folks just what is in the COC? Are you now going to take the time to read the COC at least once a year? – René


Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. The COC fare classes seem to be missing Premium Select.

    There are actually three COCs, domestic (25 pages), Canada (62 pages), and international (27 different rules). Anyone with time to read and comprehend them in their entirety please submit your employment application to the DL Legal Department. That said, it is a good idea to at least scan the COCs to find the provisions that might be applicable to your travel situation and plans.

  2. HuntingtonGuy Reply

    Fewer and fewer C+ in other than W, uggh. No bonus on those seats…not a fan.

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