Delta Air Lines made news when they removed all fees when changing or canceling SkyMiles award tickets. This eliminates the $150 fee that Delta was charging all but its highest tier members to redeposit miles or change a ticket. Also gone is Delta’s policy that any change or cancelation within 72 hours of departure would result in a total loss of the miles used for the booking.
A full list of the changes, including ones to SlyClub membership and Delta co-brand credit cards can be found on Delta’s website.
The first thing that popped into my mind was how this greatly improved and made SkyMiles more valuable. My thoughts soon drifted to another airline that doesn’t charge change or cancelation fees on award tickets and their problems with that policy.
Southwest doesn’t charge you to cancel an award ticket right up the time of departure. Taking advantage of this policy, frequent travelers with a large amount of Rapid Rewards points came up with a system to lock in a low price for whichever flight they wanted to take on a given day. How did they do it? By booking award tickets on every flight of the day. If your meetings finished the day before, take the first flight and cancel the rest. If your day is running long, cancel the early flights as they come up, until you can get to the airport.
This system worked as long as you had enough points to make all of those bookings. Why not just change your flights? Because when you change flights, you have to pay the difference in fare when you rebook. Booking many flights in advance locks in a low price for all the flights.
In 2017, Southwest updated its reservation system and eliminated this practice. They no longer allow you to make multiple reservations for the same passenger on the same day.
I haven’t seen any data points but I hope that Delta learned the lesson from Southwest’s experience and keeps people from making multiple bookings. I doubt that this was a problem for them before because of the large penalty to redeposit miles but now that it’s free, it won’t be long before people start testing the system.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary