Delta moves the expiration goalposts

December 10, 2020

Delta has repeatedly informed me that e-credits in my SkyMiles account, which I’ve accumulated this year due to the Covid crisis, are good for travel through December 31, 2022.  Those credits I haven’t yet used are still good that long, but new e-credits now expire one year from issuance, a fact I only just learned.  

In October, I bought RDU/MSP tickets on Delta on mid-December flights for my wife, daughter and me to see our son perform his college piano senior recital. Though navigating the rules wasn’t a straight line, I was able to use part of the value of our Delta e-credits to pay for the tickets.  As I said, the e-credits were then good through December 31, 2022. 

At the time I booked Delta assured me that I could cancel or change the reservations for any reason without penalty.  If canceled, the fares would revert to e-credits in my Delta account.  If that happened, I assumed the credits would be good through 2022, just as before.  But I was wrong.  Guess I should have asked.

The holiday coronavirus surge spooked us from straying into crowded airports, strolling through jetways, and perching for hours in long narrow tubes.  Consequently, we decided this week to drive to see our son’s piano performance instead—a long (1,100 mile) trip, but safer, we hope—and I contacted Delta to move the value for the three tickets back into e-credits.  Happy to, the agent told me, and he went on to mention that they’ll be good until October, 2021, one year from the purchase date.

Huh? But the credits had been good through the end of 2022 when I used them to purchase the tickets six weeks ago. 

I asked the Delta agent how I had suddenly lost 15 months of time to use the credits.  He was sympathetic and explained Delta had changed the expiration limits back to the pre-pandemic standard of 12 months from date of purchase, though the usual change penalty was still being waived. 

He didn’t say when this change occurred, and I didn’t ask or research it.  Why bother?  Knowing won’t change the fact that Delta has moved the expiration goalposts.  I now have until October of 2021 to use the three credits, and of course I have to follow Delta’s e-credit rules that I outlined in my October 22 post, namely:

  • I can use only one e-credit per ticket even if the fare exceeds the value of two or more e-credits.
  • I can use my e-credits to pay for my own and one other person on the same itinerary, but not more than two total.  So, if I want to use e-credits for three of us to travel (me, my wife, and our daughter), then I have to create a separate itinerary for the third traveler and pay that fare separately.
  • I cannot use my e-credits to pay for another person’s fare if they are traveling on a separate itinerary.
  • If I decide to cancel (rather than if it’s Delta’s decision), the value of each ticket is returned as an e-credit to the Delta SkyMiles account of the person flying, not to the person who paid for the ticket. 

I hope that we’ll be able to use the three credits before next October’s expiration ten months from now.  Naturally, I will use those first, since I still have credits good through 2022 in my SkyMiles account.  But who knows if we’ll be vaccinated and feel safe flying again by then?

One thought on “Delta moves the expiration goalposts

  1. Driving 1,100 miles in indisputably dangerous. Probably much more dangerous than covid, and certainly way way more dangerous than flying. Glad you made it safely.

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