Update: Delta says this was an error and they’ve reverted back to their earlier terms and conditions.
Back in July Delta began requiring SkyMiles members to go to the airport to purchase award tickets within 72 hours of travel when originating in China, Russia, and any country in Africa.
Last month Delta expanded this restriction to include Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Brazil. In total customers originating travel in 60 countries couldn’t book awards within 3 days of departure without going to the airport to ticket.
Now it’s even worse. Delta has updated their terms and conditions again. Now there’s a 3 day advance purchase requirement (you can’t get out of it with airport ticketing) and the restriction applies to all awards that do not start or end in the U.S. or Canada.
Award Travel Ticketing Restrictions
Award Tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a three-day advance purchase requirement. This includes routes like Paris (CDG) connecting through New York City (JFK) to Sao Paulo (GRU), or Shanghai (PVG) to/from Tokyo (NRT). No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.
This isn’t just a change without advance notice, it’s a change without any notice at all, because Delta alters its terms and conditions and doesn’t even tell members they’ve done so.
It was one thing when Delta said, in essence, ‘look much of the fraud we face originates in China and Africa, and Russia so we’re going to inconvenience our members but it saves us money.’
Delta is a global airline. They have major investments in Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico, Gol, Air France KLM, and China Eastern. They have customers around the world, for instance they’re building up their presence in Shanghai and those customers fly from Shanghai to destinations in Asia not just to the United States.
Delta won’t let you make changes to awards within 72 hours of travel, but often that’s when the best award space opens, so it’s common to book travel close-in. It’s also common to book an outbound, and wait to book the return. Or to get sick abroad, and need to book a new ticket home later than planned. Your SkyMiles are no longer good for this unless you are flying to or from the U.S. or Canada.