Rookie Wednesday: If you (should you) split your Delta reservation… All your split questions answered!

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’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. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

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.

If you are any level of Delta elite then free earned complimentary Medallion upgrades really matter to you. It is after all one of the, if not the, biggest reasons to go for status with Delta.

Back in “the day” before Delta went FCM cray-cray even with SkyPennies to sell upgrades from under you they touted that “more first class upgrades” was their business!

With all that said Delta has made some remarkable and truly flyer friendly changes over the years that we really appreciate. For example the mega change I broke the news about to allow you to have your +1 be (whatever) Medallion – lite level with you when you fly with them. I still am stunned Delta did this and has not dumped it. It is a reason to remain loyal to Delta.

Another mega change was the adjustment that if you are NOT on the same reservation you can “link” them and choose if you want to apply an upgrade cert to the one flying with you on all the same flights. Simply an amazing and so impressive friendly change and I commend Delta again.

But some of the above is not always as good as it looks. For example, you may have your +1 and your upgrade requested but day by day Delta only releases 1 seat for upgrade and thus you do not both upgrade i.e. someone who is a single, maybe lower in upgrade priority, upgrades before you (because 2 seats never opened up).

With all this in mind, are there times it is wise to give up so many perks by splitting your reservation? Also, do you really give up all these perks if you do choose to split? Are there reasons this is wise to do? Let’s dig in:

If you split your reservation does it impact your upgrade priority?

Yes. If you do split your upgrade priority will not change but your +1 will drop to their medallion level upgrade (or non medallion level) priority.

If you split your reservation does it change your issue date for either ticket?

Officially no (but we are talking Delta IT here folks). Once split you both should still have the same ticket buy date and that is one of the published tiebreakers for upgrades.

If you split your reservation can you still “link” them?

Yes. Just like two separately booked reservations once the reservation is split you can request to have the reservations linked.

If you split your reservation do you still get your +1 upgrade perk?

No. This is a major reason not to ever split a reservation. The only official way to get the +1 upgrade perk is to remain on the same reservation. Yes, manually, a gate agent may still honor this perk but you are taking a huge risk that will likely fail. If you want the +1 upgrade perk do not split.

If you split your reservation can you still have your +1 boarding pass in your Fly Delta App?

Sorry no. This is only possible when you are both on the same reservation. The only “ish” work around would be to have “you” use the Fly Delta App and have your +1 send you a screen shot of their boarding pass and you use that when you board. Clearly not as simple as pulling both boarding passes within the Fly Delta App.

If you split your reservation does it impact ticket cancellation policy?

No. If we are talking a SkyPennies SkyMiles ticket that is tied to the account that the points were taken from. Who is named does not matter. As to the 24 hour cancellation policy that is not impacted if you split it or not.

If you split your reservation does it affect the points you earn (either of you)?

No. On a revenue ticket the earnings is tied to your medallion (or non medallion) level. Splitting has zero impact on this.

If you split your reservation does it impact Sky Club access?

No. If you have access, domestic or internationally, you do not need to be on the same reservation to get the Sky Club access perks.

If you split your reservation and there is a schedule change does it matter?

It should not but it could. You should link the reservations to kinda-help prevent issues but there is the slight chance you could end up on separate jets if there is a schedule change. Do know this is HIGHLY unlikely. What will almost certainly happen is you are seated nowhere near each other and per your Delta profile requested seat preference (if available).

If you split your reservation does your +1 still get free preferred seats?

Yeah, but not automatically. If you have been any kind of an elite you have never seen the horror of looking at a jet seat map and how few seats are “free” – it really is a horror show (how would you like a seat in the lav?). If you want your +1 to get free preferred seats you will need to work with the Medallion line or @Delta on twitter to get them free (think exit row etc.).

If you split your reservation can your +1 board with you in the higher priority boarding group?

Sure. Your +1 boarding pass may say whatever but just have both boarding passes in your hand (paper or digitally) or have them with you and no gate agent will challenge this.

If you split your reservation can it help you with RU or GU cert upgrades?

If you take nothing else from this post take notice of this part. YES it can have a HUGE and positive impact if you have not cleared your RU or GU at booking. If you do split it could help as Delta often only releases one seat at a time for upgrades so you may benefit from this (at least one of you that is). There are few pains worse than seeing seats one at a time go away when you are two waiting for an upgrade. Worse case, one of you flies in 1st / biz and one of you in coach.

If you split your reservation does your reservation number (your PNR) change?

Yes – for one of you. It could be the rep lets you keep the original and the +1 get a new PNR. Or it could be the other way around. Either way it has zero impact on the upgrade process since as already talked about the ticket issue date / time does not change with a new PNR.

If you split your reservation can you un-split the reservation?

Officially no. I have proven Delta can put them back into one but your chance on getting a rep to do this is almost zero. If you split you should not expect to get the two back into one.

Wow that is a bunch of “If you” questions but as you can see they do matter. Those of us who fly Delta want to have the best shot at upgrades, perks and so much more.

For me personally, with my wife as a Diamond Medallion like me, there are little downsides of splitting. Our only real difference is that she does not hold the Delta Reserve card (learn more) nor does she have 25k spend on Delta Amex cards. Then again, since we can not really trust the published Delta upgrade tiebreakers anymore in 2019, I don’t care that much about them anymore.

These are strange times with Delta and they are going to “Keep Descending” year after year to lower the value of Medallion status so we must consider every option open to us to get all we can while we can and to split or not split a reservation can impact us as we fly! – Rene

12 comments

  1. @Don – Officially no. They can, but they don’t want to. The rules say no. If a rep does so it could come back on them so they have to have a good reason why to do so. “Back in the day” there was more reason to do so because you upgraded at the lower medallion level. With the +1 Medallion-lite on your higher status there is more reason NOT to split now.

  2. @Rene, thanks. My partner and I each have a Reserve card and go on two of these “2 for 1” trips annually. And we’ve experienced the FC seats opening one at a time and getting passed over (we are both Diamonds) as we get closer to departure date. The times we did get upgraded together was when we applied the RUC the day before travel and got upgraded at the gate.

  3. A good reason to split is for comp upgrades when your have more than 2 on the res. I split off my GM wife and kept my non-status toddler on my PNR. She just got her first upgrades ever (for both segments) at the DM window.

  4. @Don – Yeah that stinks (as mentioned it post). If you can get an agent to split it, it may help that situation.

  5. First – love your blogs and hope to see you in the air one day.

    Regarding a split reservation and a +1 still getting a free preferred seat – that seems to be another ‘back in the day’ thing. Back in the day, I’d get my whole family of 5 upgraded to comfort at booking, but now, they won’t do that even for 1 on a separate reservation.

    Also, we have NOT had good experiences linking – one time, we had 2 reservations, 2 people each, linked reservations. After a flight cancellation, each reservation team of 2 was put on a different flight, even though they were linked, all w same last name. Pretty frustrating. Worse, when the wonderful woman at DTW lounge helped us fix it, she identified we all had been put on the same plane but someone at delta removed 2 of us. Even though we were linked!

    Lastly, I continue to be irked that we cannot pay for each person on a reservation with whatever method we want – ecredit, cc, miles, pay with miles. This gap in functionality is the main reason we ever split reservations (except if we want to guarantee upgrades, and in that case someone stays with me, the rest use miles to pay for the class we’ll be upgraded to.)

    One more thing – what are your thoughts on the spend at 250K? Is it going to be definite this year? even though I easily make 125K miles, my company requires us to use the lowest fare possible, even on international trips, even for execs. So I can spend 5K-7K traveling 2x/mo
    It’s time consuming enough to manipulate the travel system with required travel times to make sure delta is the lowest fare…

  6. Excellent article! Wish there were more creative topics like this in blogs these days, rather than rehashing the same topics.

    I often buy our tickets separately in order to use more gift cards, and also because the price ends up less sometimes (weirdly.)

    Is linking two passengers together the same as linking two separate tickets together? I was told it was questionable whether Delta would always link separate tickets together (separage legs of a journey).

  7. @CSue – Some topics get updates and need a rehash/update but I will keep your thoughts in mind. As to the other you must be on all the same flights to link – at least officially.

  8. Rene, my wife and I booked a round trip ATL to London and back Rome to ATL. We wanted to later change the outbound but they said we would lose the cheap seat home. Does this mean we should have booked one way over and one way home to have the flexibility to make a change on either one without affecting the other?

  9. Delta is definitely falling short in how they handle this. I have a split ticket because I used points for my wife (and paid for mine) .. I have status and my wife does not. They did seat us together in preferred seating, but when it comes to complimentary upgrades they will only put us on the list for +2 upgrade (main cabin to first) and not +1 (main cabin to comfort+). Really? I wish that Delta executive would have to fly as a regular customer and deal with these types of issues … I suspect they would find a way to change it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *