How to Maximize Your Delta Companion Ticket in 2023

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Struggling to Use Your Delta Companion Certificate? Read This Guide

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If you're a frequent Delta flyer, odds are you've got a co-branded Delta credit card in your wallet. And while the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is a popular choice, two cards with higher fees are worth considering for one big reason: an annual Delta companion ticket.

Think of these Delta companion certificates as a buy-one, get-one benefit each year.  Play it right, and you can get plenty of value out of these benefits. But for many flyers with these certificates in their wallets, it's gotten harder to put them to use recently, running searches that turn up blank when trying to apply a companion certificate.

We're here to help. And luckily, Delta has made it a bit easier by introducing a new price calendar feature when searching for flights using your Delta companion certificate.

Whether you've already got a Delta companion ticket in your account or you're eyeing the latest Delta credit card offers, we'll give you some hints on how to make sure you use them wisely.



What is a Delta Companion Certificate?

What's a Delta companion certificate? Well, it's one of the best benefits from any Delta credit card.

The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card gets you an annual companion certificate to use on economy fares within the continental U.S. That means Hawaii and Alaska are off limits.

The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card comes with a companion certificate that also works for Delta Comfort Plus and first-class tickets within the continental U.S.

You'll get this perk after your first full year with two top-of-the-line Delta credit cards. That means you'll need to wait a year after opening one of these cards – then renew it again – to get a companion ticket.


How Does the Delta Companion Ticket Work?

You won't get your companion ticket right off the bat when you open a new Platinum or Reserve card account. It starts once you've held either the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card for a full year.

Exactly what you can get depends on which card you've got.

And remember: These Delta companion tickets are a use-it-or-lose-it benefit! Pay close attention to the expiration date on your certificate, and be sure to use it beforehand. It's not enough to book before it expires – you have to actually take the trip before it lapses.


delta companion ticket


The paid fare will earn SkyMiles and Delta Medallion Status credits, but the free fare will not. If you've got Delta status, both of you will be eligible for complimentary upgrades.

And one final important restriction to keep in mind: You have to charge the first fare (and the taxes and fees of the second) to an American Express card. It doesn't necessarily need to be the Delta Platinum or Reserve SkyMiles card. However, using a Visa, MasterCard, or any other credit card will not work.

Simple enough, right? But all this doesn't mean that you can buy any roundtrip ticket and use your Delta companion certificate to bring a buddy for free…


Which Fares Qualify?

While it can still an incredible benefit, there are some serious strings attached to these Delta companion tickets that can make the right fares harder to find and book. You have to find a specific type of fare class in order to apply a Delta companion certificate.

While you may only see first class, Comfort Plus, and economy seats when you walk on a Delta plane, airlines sell an alphabet's worth of different ticket types called fare classes – each with their own rules, restrictions, and price. And only a handful of the two-dozen-plus fares are eligible to use these Delta companion certificates:

  • With the Delta Platinum Card, you can only book fare classes L, U, T, X, and V in the main cabin.
  • On the Delta Reserve, you can book all those fares plus fare classes I, Z, and W – first class and Comfort Plus tickets.


Delta Companion Ticket
Look for the fare class to make sure your ticket qualifies for a free companion.


Feeling lost? Read up on how fare classes work.

Depending on where you live and when you're flying, these restrictions can make it more difficult to get a lot out of the companion pass. Delta Basic Economy fares are off-limits, and many of the fares that do qualify are often some of Delta's cheaper tickets.

And that's the problem many Delta flyers with these companion certificates are running into now. With airfare on the rise lately, Delta isn't selling nearly as many of these fare classes that make the cut – especially over the summer. That's why many travelers are searching for flights to use their companion tickets and coming up empty.

But don't worry. We've got plenty of tips to help you find a way to make it work. Keep reading…


How to Use a Delta Companion Pass

Once you've earned a companion certificate, you'll get an email from American Express informing you that the certificate is now available. Log in at, and you'll find it's been automatically placed in your Delta profile wallet under “Certificates, eCredits & Vouchers.”


delta companion certificate


Clicking on the certificate in your profile will allow you to begin the booking and redemption process. Unlike the Southwest Companion Pass, there is no need to designate your travel companion ahead of time!

Once you've found it, make sure your companion certificate applies, and voila – a nearly free plane ticket! You'll pay just the government-imposed taxes and fees in addition to the price of the first fare. The final amount will vary based on your destination.


Delta companion ticket


That said, there are a few other quirks to keep in mind…


Can You Use a Delta Companion Certificate Booking with SkyMiles?

No. Sadly.

Delta does not allow travelers to use a stash of Delta SkyMiles to book the first ticket when applying a Delta companion certificate. It has to be a paid fare, and you have to pay with an American Express card.


But Can You Use Delta eCredits, Too?


This is one of the best developments we've seen recently. Sometime in the last several months, Delta added the ability to apply Delta eCredits to the paid ticket even when redeeming a companion fare.

After years of canceling flights through the pandemic and many extensions to make these eCredits last through 2024, we know plenty of Delta flyers have credits sitting around in their accounts. Using a companion certificate and eCredits together can help make your flights even cheaper – it's the ultimate two birds, one stone.

To do so, just select your companion certificate as normal, then begin your search and select your flights. Once you make it to the checkout screen, select “Use eCredits” and Delta will allow you to pull in credits to offset the cost of your paid fare.


delta companion certificate ecredits


Delta allows you to apply up to four eCredits online during these transactions, though you might be able to use even more at once by calling Delta to book your tickets instead.

So long as there's a balance left over – and because you're paying your companion's taxes and fees, there will be – just finish up by paying with an Amex card and you're set!


Can Someone Else Use a Companion Certificate?

Yes … usually.

Nearly all Delta companion certificates that come through Delta's SkyMiles credit cards are fully transferrable. So while a cardholder may always prefer to use the perk that they're paying for, that's not always possible. Fortunately, there's no requirement on these certificates that the cardholder booking the flights actually takes the trip.


Tips to Use & Maximize Your Delta Companion Ticket

What's the best way to use a Delta companion ticket? We're glad you asked.

In theory, these Delta companion certificates are worth their weight in gold. It's a BOGO ticket, and an easy way to offset the annual fee on

But in practice, redeeming these certificates has become a chore over the last few years. We've heard from countless frustrated travelers who have tried and tried and tried to find flights to use this perk only to come up empty-handed every time.

You're not alone. Here's some advice on how to find the fares that work, then squeeze all the juice out of your Delta companion ticket when you can.


A Next-Level Tip to Find the Right Fares

How on earth can you find those L, U, T, X, and V fares you need to use these certificates? Are you supposed to just search route after route on Delta until you finally come up with a result?

There's a tool that can easily help you zero in on flights that work: It's called ITA Matrix. I'll show you exactly how it can help in this situation.


ita matrix


Think of ITA Matrix like Google Flights on steroids … and then some. While it's a fairly advanced platform, it has a ton of powerful features that you won't find on Google Flights or other sites. Most importantly, it allows you to search for specific fare classes … including the ones you need in order to find flights to use your Delta companion certificate.

Let's say I'm trying to use my companion certificate for a few nights in New York City toward the end of summer, but all my searches through Delta are coming up blank. Using some of ITA Matrix's advanced controls, I can tell it to show me exactly when the eligible flights are available.

First, head to ITA Matrix and plug in the basics of your trip. It helps immensely if you're flexible, so I'd recommend selecting “See calendar of lowest fares” rather than inputting exact dates.


ita matrix delta fares


Now it's time to tell ITA Matrix we only want to see flights that can be booked with a Delta companion ticket. ITA Matrix allows you to search only for specific fare classes. Just click “Advanced controls,” and then copy and paste the following bits of code in the outbound and return extension code fields.

  • Platinum cardholders booking economy fares, enter f bc=L|bc=U|bc=T|bc=X|bc=V
  • Got the Reserve Card and want to make sure you're flying first or Delta Comfort Plus? Enter f bc=I|bc=Z|bc=W

In this case, I'm searching only for the main cabin economy fares that can be booked with a Platinum Card companion certificate by telling ITA Matrix to only show fares with the booking codes L, U, T, X, or V.


ita matrix search


It may take a minute or so, but eventually ITA Matrix will pull up a calendar with results. Click airlines and narrow down your results to only show Delta flights.


delta companion certificate ita matrix


Sure enough, it looks like there are a few dates in late August and early September that might work. The $298 flight departing Wednesday, Sept. 7 and returning Saturday, Sept. 10 is in fare class X … and that should do the trick to use my companion certificate.


ita matrix results


So from there, I head over to my Delta account, select my companion certificate, enter those dates, and hit search. Sure enough, it did the trick!


delta companion ticket


While you'll still need to be flexible, there's perhaps no better way to cut through the painstaking trial-and-error process of trying to find flights to use your Delta companion ticket than this.


Be Flexible & Plan Ahead

The closer you get to departure, the harder it's going to get to find flights that qualify for these companion certificates.

If you're searching for a flight just a month or less in advance, your odds of finding flights that work are fairly slim. That's especially true now, as sky-high travel demand and higher airfare have made it all-but-impossible to find the fare classes that are eligible.

We can't tell you exactly how far in advance you need to search to break through: It's unpredictable. But you'll definitely have better odds of making it work by searching at least three to six months out.

Just remember: You have to book and take the trip before your companion certificate expires. 


Book the Most Expensive Ticket You Can!

Start thinking big to make the most out of your Delta companion ticket.

Any round-trip, main cabin (or first class, if you have the Delta Reserve Card) flight within the lower 48 U.S. states will qualify – as long as it falls into one of the fare classes above. And some will be better options than others to maximize the value of your certificate.

Cross-country routes and even some short-haul flights consistently tend to be the most expensive. But airfare dips and skyrockets so wildly, that can be hard to predict.

Here's the bottom line: Make sure you book a flight that costs $250 (see rates & fees) or more per ticket if you hold the Delta Platinum Card. And if you hold the Reserve card, that number is $550 (see rates & fees). That's the key to making the annual fee on either the Platinum or Reserve Delta SkyMiles card worth it. Regardless of any other benefits the cards provide, this one can cover the entire cost of your annual fee.

We've regularly been able to get $300 or far more in value out of the companion certificate. And that's before factoring in the value from free checked bags for everyone on the itinerary! You can use the benefit for any travel in the continental U.S. so there are endless redemption options that will maximize the value of the ticket.


Pair it with an International Fare Deal

Consider using your Delta companion ticket to lower the costs of an international getaway.

Last year, we featured an on flights to Santiago, Chile (SCL) from a handful of U.S. airports starting at only $324 round-trip which was bookable all the way through February 2023 through our Thrifty Traveler Premium service.




That's a fantastic deal – nearly $600 off most flights to Chile. But if your home airport isn't getting those cheap prices, the cost of getting there on specific days could make the deal look less attractive. Enter the Delta companion certificate.

Using your Delta companion ticket to book positioning flights is a smart move. It means you can book that cheap international ticket from a different city, then use your companion certificate to fly from your hometown to catch that international flight for less.


All About the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card by American Express is one of several options for Delta cards, but it's among our favorites. That's due in large part to this companion certificate, which can easily net you $300 or more in value every single year. You'll get the benefit after your first full year with the card. But there are other perks to the card, too.

It starts with a SkyMiles bonus. You can currently bonus_miles_full

The card earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both hotels and on Delta purchases. It also earns 2x SkyMiles per dollar spent at both restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. You'll also get a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. Membership in both programs is good for five years.

Long layover on your international journey? The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card can get you into the Delta SkyClub for $39 per person. If you don’t already have a card that includes lounge access, this is a great way to access the Delta SkyClub.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card will also get you free checked baggage for anyone on your itinerary. And you'll never pay pesky foreign transaction fees.

The card does have an annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees), but it can easily be offset with the companion ticket it provides.


delta skymiles platinum american express card


Learn more about the card_name


All About the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card by American Express is the top-tier card in the Delta co-branded credit card portfolio.

That's due in large part to this companion certificate. Unlike the companion certificate from the Platinum card, it can be used for both Comfort Plus and domestic first-class tickets. You'll get the benefit after your first full year with the card.

There's also a welcome bonus: You can now bonus_miles_full

The card earns 3x SkyMiles per dollar spent on Delta purchases. You'll also get a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. Membership in both programs is good for five years.

Long layover on your international journey? The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card gets you complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club. You'll also be able to access Amex's incredible Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges so long as you book your flight with the Reserve card.

With an annual fee of $550 (see rates & fees), it certainly isn't for everybody.


delta skymiles reserve american express card


Learn more about the card_name


Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any other Delta Companion ticket rules?

While we've already covered almost everything you need to know, there are some subtle items to note about the Delta Companion Pass.

  • It's only eligible on Delta, Delta Connection carrier and Delta Shuttle flights – which excludes all other Delta-designated codeshare flights and flights on partner airlines.
  • Delta Companion Certificate is valid for one round-trip Main Cabin companion ticket with the purchase of certain adult round-trip fares on published routings within the continental United States.
  • Companion tickets cannot be used on tickets with fees of more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments).
  • Companion Certificate and Delta eCredits can be combined in the same transaction.
  • Delta Companion Certificates are for new purchases only – they can't be applied to the cost of previously issued tickets.


Can I give my Delta companion ticket to someone else?

Wondering how to transfer a Delta Companion Certificate? You don't need to.

If you've got a companion ticket you aren't using, you can book the reservation for someone else using a certificate, and that ticket is assigned to them and their companion.

However, once the tickets have been issued, a Delta Companion Certificate can't be transferred.


Bottom Line

Delta companion certificates are some of the best benefits on the card_name and the card_name.

But understanding the ins and outs of these Delta companion tickets is critical to coming out ahead – and there's no question that they've gotten much harder to use lately. Fortunately, there are still smart ways to put them to use in 2023.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

42 Responses

  • Hi Mary,
    You’re only eligible for this bonus if you’ve just signed up for the card. If you already hold the card and continue to spend on it, you’ll just earn 1-2 SkyMiles per dollar.

  • You would use the certificate to get to a larger airport that has regular good deals out of the country. Example: use to fly to JFK and hop another flight to Ireland. Or use to get LAX and find deals to Singapore as they specified.

  • How can my niece use my companion ticket if I’m not also flying.
    She would use it and book her fiancé’s same flight full price on Delta.

  • I hate that it has a maximum stay of only 30 days. Had anyone been able to get around this restriction? We are staying in Florida for 7 weeks and would love to use it!

  • When you use a companion ticket you have to book the flights on a specific Delta page. When comparing the cost of a flight on the the specific Delta as opposed to booking a flight on the general booking page, I found that each ticket cost $200 more for the same flight that I was booking between Salt Lake City and Detroit. There is probably something in the small print of the card holder’s agreement that addresses this, but the “free” companion ticket isn’t totally covered by the cards annual fee.

  • You say “You have to charge the first fare (and the taxes and fees of the second) to either your Platinum or Reserve SkyMiles card.” This is not true. You only need to use an Amex card. I paid the first fare on a Delta Platinum card companion certificate after cancelling the card using a Blue Cash Preferred. Also, I paid the first fare on a Delta Reserve card companion pass after cancelling the card using an Amex Delta Blue card.

    • Hi Harv. Thank you for pointing that out. It does appear any Amex card will work (not just Delta cards). I have updated our story to reflect this.

  • If you pay for a companion ticket (and you have a Delta Reserve card), but you pay with it with an Amex Platinum, will you be eligible for upgrades? Or do you have to pay for it with the Reserve card?

  • Word of caution the Blackout dates for using these vouchers are extensive now. We have tried three times this year to use our vouchers for flights in 2021 and 2022 and all dates have been blacked out by Delta and Amex including a late February 2022 flight that we recently booked and were told that it was blacked out because of Valentines Day. However the trip does not fall within that date! Anyone know what the blackout dates are for 2022 as we would like to try using one of our 3 vouchers in 2022 before we cancel the Amex card as the $250 annual fee is just not worth it any longer!

  • This is my first time using a companion certificate and I have tried a lot of variations of trips to both Phoenix in February 2022 and Newark in August 2022 and everything is saying sold out. I only upgraded because of the companion certificate, but I’m now concerned that I won’t be able to find a flight that will even work in 2022. Any suggestions?

  • I’m having the same problem . Can’t use these tickets anymore . Never any flights and sold out. I’m going to down grade my card.

    • Do you have the Delta Reserve Card? You can only book a first-class companion ticket if you have the Reserve. The Platinum card is for economy fares only.

  • Honesty the companion ticket is worthless. You can almost never take a flight where you want to go or when you want to go. Im going to downgrade my card and just apply the money I save on a flight I want. Delta customer server has become a joke as well. As a gold soon to be platinum medallion member, calling them for any kind of support has become laughable at best. Delta needs to come up with a solution soon.

  • Can I use my points to book a flight for myself and use the companion ticket for my daughter on the same flight? Or does the primary ticket have to be a purchased with cash to be able to use the companion ticket?

    • No. I called Delta to ask this question the other day. If you are using the companion ticket you must pay for the main ticket (your ticket) with either your card or ecredits (gift card).

  • Does Delta ever add more flights? Unfortunately my dates are fixed, all companion pass flights are currently showing as sold out, just wondering if it’s worth it for me to keep checking periodically.

  • I had the very frustrating pleasure of trying to book my companion ticket in April 2022 for a July trip to Los Angeles from JFK. I have 2 companion tickets expiring 1/31/2023, I chatted w Delta if there was an easier way to book because despite having open seats on the flights I was interested I could not book the companion tickets. This was the case for any airports on the west coast including Washington & Oregon. I was told to register a complaint w Delta, I did still have not heard back. Since I was newly retired I searched each day for the months of June, July & August, finally, I hit on 8/23-8/30. It took days. Unbelievable, I thought I would not be able to have a summer vacation this year despite being newly retired! I got smart and booked the remaining companion ticket right away for January 2023. This tip will save me an enormous amount of time. Thank-you so glad I don’t have to waste my “golden” years trying to use my companion ticket.

    • Yes. The only fare class that doesn’t allow this is basic economy, and those tickets are not eligible for purchase with the companion tickets.

  • Not sure of the Blackout dates, But 1st rule of Credit Cards. You should NEVER cancel any credit card. If the fee is too much for any card call the Credit Card company, like in your case, and see if you can reduce it to a Green card which is more fee friendly. Master or Visacards will work similarly and most often easier and you don’t have to wait until renewal time as you will get a prorated credit back from Card issuer. Once you cancel an Amex card, I beleive, you will be bared for life from getting another Amex card, or at least any bonus offers. Also, for other cards keep in mind the 5/24 rule. Your credit score could also be affected by canceling any credit card.

  • The tool produced a result for a Platinum Card (Round trip DTW to SJC, Sept 8-17) but does not work at This flight just recently came off the list of qualified / available flights on

    • Similar problem here – used the ITA tool to input code as advised, got some flight options for using companion certif but they still showed up as Sold Out on

  • Can I use my companion ticket to Puerto Rico? The exception says you cannot use to Alaska and Hawaii. Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

  • We tried several times to use the companion certificates in our account and could not find flights where they would work, even if we tried different airports, etc. I’m sorry, but no matter how hard you try to put a positive spin on this, I feel like I’ve been tricked when I have to read fine print, download a special app, and jump through a number of hoops to use something that was advertised to me as a wonderful benefit. We have been good customers and the situation with the companion tickets is so upsetting that we are rethinking our brand loyalty.

  • If canceling a booked Companion Ticket, Delta provides NO credit for it — it is lost for good. The taxes/fees paid can get returned as e-credit though.

    I’ve had one companion need to bail on a trip (I went ahead and traveled) because of seriously hospitalized parent. And, I had to cancel another trip due to Covid illness (I’m guessing that companion couldn’t have traveled on alone). In both cases, Delta would NOT reinstate the Companion Certificate… arrrgh.

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