Guest post: Delta Air Lines’ voucher policy change is a good move

Posted by: The Weekly Flyer

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.

This post is brought to you by Frequently Flying while Jason is out with two broken wrists and a microphone. Keep an eye out at MilesQuest for future guest posts by other Boarding Area bloggers.

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?

  • Tyler said,

    I completely disagree. There is no point in not allowing you to combine vouchers. Not allowing you to transfer them makes sense but not combining is just unfair. I’m guessing you do not take many vouchers…

  • NYBanker said,

    I can see the transfer issue, but not the combination issue. It is perfectly reasonable to get two vouchers then desire to combine them for a $2,000 ticket, paying cash for the balance.

    It sounds like this is being applied to existing vouchers, too, which is particularly troubling. (Please correct me if I’m wrong on this.)

  • studio253 said,

    If they don’t want them transferred I’m fine with that but to not be able to combine them is terrible. I always stack my bump vouchers, lost luggage vouchers for vacation tickets for my wife and me. These vouchers weren’t free. They were given to me either because they needed my seat or there was extremely poor service and the airline wanted to keep me as a happy customer. To make these vouchers non stackable is just another way of dragging more cash out of customers.

  • IdahoSt said,

    Your logic is horrific, ok, I also get the no transfer rule since they do not want these sold on Ebay/Craigslist. but not being able to combine them is ridiculous. Typical Delta, no notice…just bad news.

    What really troubles me is now some of the bloggers support this nonsense.

  • Nathan said,

    Outside the fact that it violates the T&Cs, why is Delta attempting to combat the sale of vouchers on Ebay and craigslist?

    I assume this is because the airline hopes the recipient of the voucher cannot use it before expiration. Are there any other reasons?

  • Wes said,

    This will go down as the worst guest blog of the year…..

    “I’m not a Delta flyer”

    I should’ve stopped reading right then….

  • Wise2u said,

    non combinable does bite. Most have T&C that forbids resale and I thought they had undercover people online buying certs and cancelling them for breaking the rules.
    I guess policing the internet costs them too much. I personaly liked the tactic, kept greedy dogs who didnt want to give it to friends or family from profiting.

  • deltagoldflyer said,

    This is another “stealth” change for Delta:

    http://boardingarea.com/deltapoints/2011/12/14/breaking-news-delta-starting-tomorrow-you-can-only-use-1-voucher-per-ticket-not-3/

    Many at FlyerTalk are email the DOT about this and if you want to you can contact them here to let them know what you think about this change without notice:

    http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/CP_AirlineService.htm

  • Guest Post: When Airlines take the moral high ground - MilesQuest said,

    [...] Guest post: Delta Air Lines’ voucher policy change is a good move [...]

  • matt said,

    I recently found out this rule after attempting to combine a few left over vouchers with values of $50-$80. Delta effectively changed the terms of vouchers acquired prior to December 15 after I used those vouchers to book flights for my family. When I tried to combine the left over values, they said the new rules applied. Complete BS.

  • John said,

    I have elite status on Delta. I fly them frequently and my loyalty has always been with Delta. This is the last straw. If I’m issued vouchers in MY name because of Delta’s errors, ie overbooking, poor service, etc. I expect to use one or all of the vouchers when I see fit. Furthermore, transferring vouchers is my prerogative. I’ve already started to research my travel options on other airlines. Delta you are the most expensive and most restrictive airline in the business so where’s the incentive to fly your airline? Two fewer incentives now that I can’t gift my voucher to my family or friends nor use the vouchers you issued me for your companies errors. Good Riddance. As for the author, wake up.

  • MoeZhart said,

    This is BS! After asking the Gate Agent whether it would be transferable she explicitly said yes. Now when wanting to use it I find out that this was untrue! Damn you Delta Airlines.

  • tkelthul said,

    I had not realized the rules changed and i am sitting on 1100 in vouchers. Had i known that, i wouldn’t have taken the bumps. One of my vouchers issued in 2/2012 said i could transfer it. 3 supervisors later they honered it but the other’s cannot be transferred. I won’t be taking any more bumps. I like to use the vouchers for my spouse.

  • bragdash said,

    I was issued a $400 electronic credit voucher (ECV) and a $50 ECV on 3 Jan 2012 with Delta’s old terms and conditions (T&C) on them although I did not know that at the time.
    I attempted to transfer both ($450) to my wife in Aug 2012 for a scheduled trip in Sep 2012 and was told by delta.com’s online support that my issued T&C were void due to the 15 Dec 2011 changes. As all know who have read the old T&C, transfers to the owner’s designee and combining ECVs should have been allowed.
    My position is an ECV is a contract and, as such, can’t be changed without written consent from both parties.
    This corporate behavior opens Delta up to an easy class-action lawsuit when you think about the large amount of dollars involved and the stressful, emotional nature of travel challenges.
    I recommend to all that they not ever accept a Delta ECV. To do so would support their bad behavior.

  • Tatilo said,

    The airlines should be given cash compensation to passengers instead of vouchers having all kind of limitations.Google 14 CFR 250.9 and 49 U.S.C. of USDOT rules.Why should we trade for less?

  • Kristina said,

    I think that the non-transfer option is GARBAGE. I bought the ticket for my brother, as it turns out, he absolutely cannot fly. He had a panic attack at the airport before even getting out of the car. So now Delta is going to give him a voucher good for a year and then charge him another $150 if he wants to use it. What CRAP!!!!!! We had no clue that he couldn’t fly until we pulled up to the airport. Why can’t the ticket be transferred to me, the person who paid for it originally, and can fly! I’m REALLY REALLY dissapointed and unsatisfied with DELTA’s garbage policies. Their ticket prices aren’t even close to their competitors and then they give you unreasonable trash policies. Um, no thank you. I will NEVER fly with Delta again.

  • COWGER said,

    DELTA IS CRAP I FEEL ONCE YOU EARNED THE VOUCHER ITIS YOURS TO DO WITH WHAT YOU WANT AND NO FEES SHOULD BE CHARGE FOR TRANSFERS.NEXT TIME I ASK FOR CASH THAT IS WHAT IT SHOULD BE ANYHOW SINCE WE PAY BY CASH

  • COWGER said,

    ALL OF US NEEDTOSEND LETTERS TO THE GOVERMENT OFFICE IN CHARGE OF AIRLINE REGULATIONS

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