If you’re planning to use your Delta Skymiles on short notice you might run into a predicament as Delta has revised the Terms & Conditions on February 15th requiring members to visit a ticketing counter in person.
In person ticketing for short notice awards has been required previously at certain origins but Delta has now expanded that list to even more countries including mainstream destinations such as China & Singapore.
There might be a variety of reasons why Delta is taking these steps, two of which would be fraud prevention and also revenue protection.
Many loyalty programs have been hit by fraud in recent months and years, most recently IHG Rewards Club has many issues with that kind of thing (John also wrote about this here a few weeks ago).
So what exactly is Delta doing now?
If you consult the Terms&Conditions of the Skymiles program (last revised on February 15th 2018) under ‘Use Skymiles’ you find the following:
Award Travel Ticketing Restrictions
Award Tickets purchased for travel within or originating in China, Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil and any country in Africa require a 72-hour advance purchase. Members desiring travel within or originating in these markets within 72 hours must go to the airport to purchase their ticket, including reissues. No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.
This is a problem in many ways because how many Delta Airlines ticket counters are there really? Mind you that this involves ALL award reservations including those on partner airlines from airports where Delta doesn’t even fly too and hence has no operations there to verify a member.
In many instances that will mean that SkyMiles members with enough miles and the need for short notice award travel find themselves shut out of the opportunity.
The same currently holds true for British Airways Executive Club members who wish to redeem for Cathay Pacific flights which are blocked for online redemptions from 7 days before departure (we had a detailed article about this – see here).
None of us denies that fraud is indeed a problem and the usual modus operandi of fraudsters is to clear out the accounts short before departure to reduce the chance of being found out on time. It then becomes a huge headache for the legitimate account owner to recover the miles, though most of the time loyalty programs make the member whole again.
It’s no secret that certain parts in the world are considered a hive of fraud activity, in particular certain countries in Africa and in recent years many folks reported that their accounts were hacked and points used for redemptions in / originating from China. I wouldn’t have though that Singapore is in the same bracket but maybe Delta used historic data of fraud cases to make their decision.