Redeeming a Delta Voucher

Oh Delta Airlines.  I’ve dealt with you more last week than I have ever in my life.

I have mixed opinions of Delta.  You see, I’ve never really flown Delta.  Maybe once or twice when I was younger, but they don’t really service the airports and cities I fly into or out of.  Delta doesn’t have a big presence in Boston or Providence, and I don’t visit Detroit, Atlanta, or Minneapolis/St. Paul very often.  I guess I just don’t know them very well, that’s all.

Still, I found myself having to navigate their website last week, since I was planning some flights for my brother.  Since he had a $1,000 Delta flight voucher (from giving up his seat on an overbooked flight a few months back), he had a certain preference for Delta.

The Voucher

It was a paper voucher, and looked similar to a boarding pass in size and shape.  The airline printed it at the gate for him, when he offered to give up his seat and wait until the next flight.  These vouchers are often given out as part of a “give up your seat deal,” but typically have some limitations.  For example:  the voucher can only be used for the named person’s ticket.  Which means if you have a $1,000 voucher, a $600 ticket, and a companion with a $600 ticket, you still have to pay for the companion’s ticket.  You just end up with a $400 voucher after purchasing the first ticket with the voucher.

That’s frustrating.  You’re telling me I can’t use my voucher to bring my friend with me in the seat next to me?  I decided to do some digging.

On Flyer Talk (one of my favorite resources), I dug up some information that i thought might help.  FT has a whole section devoted to vouchers, and more specifically, Delta vouchers.  I read that people have had success with booking vouchers for two people when calling in to Delta’s customer service.

The Call

First off, I picked an awful time to call.  Calling any airline’s customer service line two days before an impending snowpocalypse (last Thursday) is a terrible idea, but it had to happen.  I was worried if I waited until after the weekend to book the tickets, that the fares may go up.  Again, price was the most important factor in booking these tickets.  Plus, I was excited to try something new!

So, I called in.  And I waited.  I waited about an hour before someone picked up.  I’m assuming most of the wait time was due to people calling and rescheduling flights for the snowstorm over the weekend, so hopefully the next time you call Delta, it’ll be a bit easier.

My total call time was almost an hour and a half, but I have to say, I received excellent customer service on the phone.  To the point where I was a little surprised and genuinely thankful for all the help the customer service representative (CSR) gave me.

I needed the passenger information, voucher information, flight routes (BOS-LAX-HNL, etc.), and flight numbers to book all the tickets.  I had already gathered the information the CSR needed, so it was relatively smooth sailing.  The rep mentioned the typical $25 phone booking fee, but offered to waive it since I was having trouble with redeeming the voucher online.  I didn’t even have to ask!  The only tricky part in the whole process was the actual tickets.  The tickets are technically two separate reservations, with two separate PNRs.  Still pretty simple, the two passengers will just have to pick seats next to each other (on their separate SkyMiles accounts) and remember their two separate PNRs.  The itineraries are still identical twins.

From what I’ve read, you can’t book separate reservations like this on your own, and here’s why:  Passenger A has $1,000 voucher, and books a $600 flight.  Great!  Passenger A still has $400 on their voucher, so they go to book Passenger B’s flights (same flights, different reservation).  Passenger A cannot use their voucher, since they aren’t flying on the reservation, and you can’t use a voucher on PNR’s you’re not on.  Be warned though, it depends on the type of voucher.  Some vouchers transfer the leftover amount to an “E-voucher,” which theoretically can be used by someone else.  If you have any experience with Delta vouchers, feel free to comment!

The best part of all this?  They still earn SkyMiles on flights redeemed with vouchers!  They’ll each earn a total of 2,805 SkyMiles on these flights (5,610 SkyMiles total).  Not bad for only $200.  They essentially earned about 28 SkyMiles/dollar.  They’ll also each earn 10,764 Medallion Qualifying Miles, 5 Medallion Qualifying Segments, and 561 Medallion Qualifying Dollars.  if he starts flying Delta frequently, these might actually be useful to him in the future, he’s already one third of the way to Silver Medallion Status!

Wondering how we paid the part of the trip not covered by the voucher?

Things to Remember

  • Figure out which flights you want FIRST.  Write down the flight numbers, dates, and times.  Also note the rough costs of each segment, or at least of the total purchase price.  That way if the phone agent says something much higher or lower than the price you saw, you can figure out what went wrong.
  • Additionally, find some back up flights.  If you found plenty of availability on the flights you wanted online, seats will probably still be there when you call Delta, but it never hurts to be prepared.
  • I think this goes without saying, but be polite on the phone.  Customer service representatives deal with their fair share of crazies, so try to make their day a bit better by not being one of those people.
  • Remember, Delta doesn’t want you to use your whole voucher.  They want you to leave money on the table.  Don’t be surprised if the representative you get won’t grant your request.  Either bite the bullet and pay for the second ticket, or try calling and getting another CSR.
  • If they don’t offer, be sure to ask them to waive the direct booking fee.  When doing so, cite the fact that you weren’t able to book online, since you had issues redeeming your voucher.  If they still hit you with the $25 fee, try writing to customer service later on.  They should be able to send you a voucher for $25.
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