Delta Takes a Step Towards Coming Clean About Online Award Pricing

At the end of last month, Delta started charging more for stopovers on international awards when booked online.

For instance, if you booked a business class award from the US to Prague via Paris — and stopped over for a few days in Paris — that used to be included in the mileage cost of an award (increased from 100,000 miles to 125,000 miles for the award overall, but still included for no extra miles for the stopover).

As part of their preparations for next year’s Skymiles program, which includes five award tiers and finally allows one-way awards, they rolled out a change to their pricing system early: stopovers price as an extra one-way award.

Delta didn’t change the published rules of their awards (yet). So stopovers are supposed to be included, but the website was charging more — 50,000 miles for a business class flight between Paris and Prague. Delta said this change happened early, but they weren’t going to undo it, members could call and get the stopover priced ‘properly’ and sent a memo to agents about this.

You had to know to call, and you had to get a Delta agent who knew about the issue and knew how to get the pricing overridden.

Here’s what I wrote at the time:

It seems to me, though, that the worst crime here isn’t a ‘technical glitch’ — it’s that members trying to book awards are being presented with much higher prices than they should be. And there’s been no:

  • Warning posted on the website that prices that are too high are being quoted
  • Attempt or indication that Delta will refund the excess miles that are being charged to members
  • Commitment to waive the telephone booking fee for members ‘in the know’ enough to call./li>

Delta has now posted a warning on their award search website. Sort of.

If you:

  1. Search for a flight
  2. Select miles as the form of payment
  3. Choose multi-city search

Then you’re presented with this message (not bolded, or offset in any way):

To book an International Award Ticket that includes a stopover of more than 24 hours, contact a Reservation Specialist at 1-800-323-2323.

It tells you to call for a stopover on an international award ticket. Of course, you can book it online. And the message doesn’t explain why you wouldn’t want to. It says call, it doesn’t say “tell the agent they need to get the award re-priced from the exorbitant cost you’ll initially be presented with.” It doesn’t say “even though the website will let you book a stopover, it will charge you more miles than you’re supposed to be, so if you want to say miles you have to call. And we’ll charge you a telephone booking fee to get what our rules entitle you to. Have a nice day.”

It’s a start. But, to me, it’s barely that. There’s not much time, either, to improve this since we can all expect included stopovers on international awards to go away with the new program at the beginning of the year.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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