This month, Delta Air Lines very quietly rolled out new rules for redeeming vouchers. Effective December 15, 2011, those issued for voluntary denied boardings, as well as any other travel credit good on Delta, are non-combinable and non-transferable.
Airlines wager on breakage with voucher issuance and this policy change will certainly increase Delta’s percentage. One airline source revealed that the change was made mostly to combat the sale of vouchers on eBay and craigslist, a practice that violates the terms and conditions of the certificates.
The boards on Flyertalk lit up once this was discovered and many are incredibly upset no formal announcement was made. The Points Guy devoted a post to the subject and he is in the camp thinking Delta should have been proactive and formally notified Skymiles members. I’m not so sure.
Brian Cohen, author of Flyertalk’s “The Gate” blog uses an analogy where a supermarket doubles the price of nuts. Should that supermarket issue an all-encompassing notice of the price increase to every customer? I’ll say absolutely not. Is this an apples to oranges comparison? I don’t think so.
So long as the certificates issued have clearly explicit terms and conditions on them, I think airlines can change those terms without the need to make an official announcement. The same Delta source as before mentioned they didn’t issue a public statement about the change given “there is no target audience to make that announcement without causing undue worry.”
I’m not a Delta flyer, so don’t really have a vested interest in this, but would be totally fine if United Airlines – my carrier of choice – decided to change the terms on their vouchers. Currently, VDB certs on United aren’t combinable, but can be used by anyone. I’ve always used them for my own travels, but appreciate the option to give them away. If that changed, I’d understand.
I’ve seen oodles of certs and miles for sale on eBay and craigslist and think airlines are doing their due diligence in cracking down. This week I watched a man take a VDB off a United flight in Reno and the agent clearly explained the rules and policies. That certainly doesn’t always happen, but once you accept such a voucher and its terms, you, the traveler, should be willing to abide by them.
Change is annoying and Delta’s switch in policy definitely irks quite a few fliers. I honestly think it was a smart business decision on their part and support their policy. Will the other airlines join Delta’s move?