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Companion Certificates Not Valid for Delta One Reservations?

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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.


It appears Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificates can no longer be used for Delta One reservations.

We’ve used Companion Certificates to book Delta One tickets in the past. But that doesn’t seem to be an option anymore.

Here’s what happened when we tried to book a flight the other day.

Delta Amex Companion Certificates

Before we go much deeper, let’s explain that four Delta American Express grant cardholders a Companion Certificate (BOGO) starting the second year of card membership:

Both flavors of Reserve Cards have Companion Certificates valid for First Class, Comfort+, and Main Cabin trips with available fare classes I, Z, W, L, U, T, X, and V. However, Delta says, “For Delta Comfort+ travel, tickets are available in W and S classes of service, but only when L, U, T, X, or V classes of service are available in the Main Cabin.”

Meanwhile, the Platinum cards’ Companion Certificates are good only for Main Cabin trips booked with the L, U, T, X, and V fare classes.

(This post explains more about Companion Certificates.)

Delta Reserve Amex Cards Companion Certificates: No More Delta One?

A couple of years ago (you know, before COVID), my inlaws used a Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificate to fly roundtrip between LAX and BOS in Delta One. To be clear: this was the full Delta One service that included dedicated check-in at LAX, Delta Sky Club access, and fancier meals and desserts on board the flight.

The Delta One check-in lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The Delta One check-in lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

In other words, it wasn’t a Delta plane with lie-flats operating a non-Delta One service flight.

A couple of days ago, the same inlaws told me they’re going to New York for a wedding this fall. I offered them a Companion Certificate (happy inlaws = happy wife = everyone’s happy). They decided to splurge for Delta One. This will be their first trip in almost two years and they want to treat themselves. Great!

So I logged on to my Delta account, selected a Reserve card’s Companion Certificate, and searched for LAX flights to JFK.

Here’s what I was offered:

Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificate options for a trip between LAX and JFK in September 2021.

Well. That’s interesting. I’ve booked Delta One with my Reserve card Companion Certificates before.

Maybe Delta One is completely sold out for those dates, I thought. But wouldn’t there still be a Delta One column with “Sold Out” denoted in the boxes?

So I tried another search without the Companion Certificate.

Well, whaddya know?

Delta fare options for a trip between LAX and JFK in September 2021.

Plenty of Delta One availability with the “I” fare class. And remember that “I” is one of the valid fare classes for the Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificates. Perfect!

I called the Delta Medallion line to see if a rep could help. While I was on hold, I glanced again at the Companion Certficiate’s terms and conditions. The eligible cabins are, “First Class, Comfort+, and Main Cabin.” Nothing about Delta One — which is a different product than First Class.

Uh-oh.

Then a friendly, helpful agent took my call and started getting the reservation booked.

At least, she thought.

She, too, couldn’t find any Delta One options for those dates — despite several available “I” fares. So she tried a few different dates.

Still no joy in Cert-ville.

Then she read the terms and conditions. She was surprised to see Delta One no longer included as one of the available cabins for Reserve Amex Companion Certificates.

She graciously called another department to see if they could help. Alas, no. That rep, too, said Delta One is not eligible for the Companion Certificate. Only First Class. (My inlaws ended up booking Comfort+. They’re fine.)

So What’s Up?

We’re still awaiting word from Delta as to when this change took place. I’ll update the post when we hear back.

A very reliable source told me American Express foots the bill for the “free” passenger who travels on the Companion Certificate. I don’t know if Amex made the decision or if it was up to Delta (though we can all probably guess…). But that’s interesting because I found available Companion Certificate First Class fares from LAX to JFK (with a connection) that cost more than the Delta One options.

But this change certainly seems to have been made quietly. If an announcement was made, we missed it — as did our readers and other sources who are very helpful and thoughtful in providing information.

It even caught Medallion line rep members by surprise.

The sign indicating the entrance for Delta One and Sky Priority passengers at LAX Terminal 2.

Is the Delta Reserve Amex Still Worth It?

This was kind of disappointing because I wanted to help treat my inlaws. But like most issues involving air travel — especially when premium cabins are involved — it’s very much a #FirstWorldProblem.

I still value the Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificate because, in a pinch, it’s easier to redeem the Platinum card’s Certs. I’ve used it a few times to book First Class when traveling with my wife and young daughter.

Writer Chris Carley's daughter sitting in first class on a Delta Air Lines flight, using the companion pass from one of his Delta American Express cards.
Our little companion (a few years ago before her growth spurt!) 🙂

Plus, not everyone has easy access to Delta One routes. For example, my parents in Fargo, North Dakota, rarely — if ever — fly Delta One. But they have mainline Delta flights at FAR — and can use their Reserve card Companion Certificates for First Class.

Keep in mind that Delta operates several flights every day with Delta One-equipped seats. You can use the Reserve’s Companion Certificate to buy those flights. The only thing missing is the Delta One service. (The Delta One wine and food are better, IMHO. But it’s not like Delta One gives you a dedicated butler or something. In fact, I’ve had better service in domestic First than on some international Delta One flights.)

So if you can rough it out in domestic first — maybe even a lie-flat — it’s still a great value to be had.

Final Approach

Given that six Delta Amexes — including the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card(See Rates and Fees) and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card (See Rates and Fees) — have increased welcome offers for the next two weeks, I wanted to make sure people are up to date about the “change” in case this may affect their decision.

At a time when airlines and credit card companies need consumers to use their products, pulling benefits doesn’t seem like the best idea. But there’s still plenty of value for the Delta Reserve Amex Companion Certificates.

What do you think?

 

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured above, please visit the following links:

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.

15 Comments

  1. Don in ATL Reply

    Delta has bastardized their “Delta One” brand. There is absolutely no consistency in what you get – except the lie flat seat. Their webpage touts the service, the meals, etc. but that is simply not true on a lot of routes they call Delta One. Example: ATL-HNL used to be called First Class (because it was a domestic route) even though it had the lie flat seats on the A330 or the 767. The typical cost was $2200-2400 RT. Then some brainiac at headquarters decided to start calling it Delta One. Same seat, same meal, same service as First Class, but they raised the price a minimum of $500 -$1000. It is the exact same product they There is no consistency in Delta One – other than the seat.

    • Other than the fact that D1 seats are lie-flat, I won’t call them consistent, because seats on A350 suite and dreaded 767-300ER D1 are miles away from each other

  2. Definitely a negative change. As someone who holds both an Amex Platinum and a Delta Reserve, the Reserve needs to prove its worth every year. This change doesn’t help. Could result in a downgrade to the Delta Platinum later this year (I just need to make sure I reach the first 30K boost before downgrading).

  3. Joe Chivas Reply

    Maybe this change is actually just subtle advice that nobody should be attending a super-spreader event like a wedding during a pandemic.

  4. “Keep in mind that Delta operates several flights every day with Delta One-equipped seats. You can use the Reserve’s Companion Certificate to buy those flights. ”

    Be aware, tho, that on those flights you’re booking First and not Delta One. Delta can (and does, unfortunately) swap out planes as it suits them. So the plane with the lie-flat seats can suddenly turn into domestic First and you’re left with no recourse since domestic First is what you booked.

    • @potcake – LAX-JFK (as one example) is branded and sold as “Delta One”. Others like SEA-JFK have D1 seats for many flights but are all sold as First Class.

  5. I’ve used those certificates for the JFK-LAX-JFK route for years and always saved them for that very purpose. That BLOWS if they have removed it. It still cost $1100/per person if you split the cost but was worth it for the 6 hr flight and the services. BOO.

  6. I do have the same certificate and just checked SEA-JFK SEP 20th outbound and SEP 30 return and I was able to apply the cert on Delta One (I) on both legs. $1139.60 USD for both passengers on 757-200 Flat bed Delta One so not sure what going on.

    2 Passengers
    FlightsFlights
    $1,006.51
    (Companion Certificate Applied)
    $133.09
    $1,139.60 USD
    2 left at this price

    • @tjp74 – The SEA-JFK is not marketed as a D1 route. Thus you will have some flights with D1 seats and some without vs a D1 markets route is ALL D1 seats in biz.

  7. Well, I had been planning to upgrade my DL AMEX plat to reserve now that we’re about to become empty-nesters and we’ll have only two to travel. Living in HI, DL has been reducing D1 Options and it is unlikely to be restored for several years if at all. Time to rethink the upgrade

  8. Pingback: Delta Companion Certificates No Longer Usable For Delta One Flights

  9. Must’ve scored one of the last delta one companion certificates, just flew 4/13 jfk-lax using a BOGO certificate that was booked early March.

    However, was such a disappointing experience even on the newer 767-400 … there were four of us in our group and only one TV worked and in flight entertainment was not working either. That along with one lousy snack box on a 6hr flight had me seriously questioning Delta’s current “premium” product and my own loyalty. Reading this article the day after our flight was not helpful!

  10. At least Delta posted this rule change (would have been nice to have some warning and a 1-year grace period), but it’s there in black and white. My issue is that Delta plays lots of games with these certs.

    I used to use my Reserve BOGO every year to go ATL:SLC:GJT in First on the ATL-SLC leg and then coach on the SLC:GJT as it’s a single cabin aircraft. Two years ago this route stopped working with the BOGO lookup. I talked to multiple reps and heard a variety of theories why it couldn’t work anymore, mixed cabins (though I can get the website to pull up plenty of mixed cabin itineraries), regional airline partner provides the short hop, etc. Because of the hub to hub and the pinch point of the CRJ this route is almost always expensive and the ATL:SLC is a long route so getting First with a hot meal was nice.

  11. Have D1 lie-flat seats for me and my wife – JFK-SFO Labor Day weekend. Booked back in March on a Z fare class. Who knows, maybe the perk will be restored at some point but it’s a blow to the valuation of the annual fee in my opinion. From Delta’s standpoint, when you have another terrible quarter of earnings like they just posted, it makes sense in terms of revenue to not be surrendering $1200 in R/T fares in their transcontinental premium cabin.

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