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Delta is Shining Through the Dark Cloud of Coronavirus

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As the airline industry roared over the last decade, Delta set itself apart from its U.S. competitors. The Atlanta-based airline doubled down on seatback screens as other airlines ripped them out, gave passengers more space as competitors crammed extra rows of seating on its planes, and earned a reputation for friendlier service onboard.

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled Delta and all other airlines, yet it has still shined – this time, leading with consumer-friendly moves that American, United, and others have copied.

As other airlines focused on shoring up ticket sales, Delta was the first major U.S. carrier to allow free change or cancellation for previously booked travel – not just new reservations. You can now change or cancel (for a voucher) all Delta domestic flights scheduled through April, and all international flights through May. Read more on Delta's change and cancellation policies during coronavirus.
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That broad policy extends even to award tickets booked with SkyMiles, allowing flyers to cancel reservations and get their miles back without paying the standard $150 redeposit fee. Only Alaska Airlines and Southwest have done the same. In many cases, both American and United are still charging fees.

While travelers struggle to get through jammed phone lines, Delta made its most consumer-friendly move: Automatically issuing eCredits to any traveler who missed or skipped a flight through April. American Airlines quickly copied that policy.

The list goes on. If you change flights (but not your destination), Delta won't charge you the fare difference if you reschedule your domestic flight before May or an international journey before June. Like Southwest, Delta has also capped fares for domestic travel through March – helping travelers get home in a hurry. If you've got a companion certificate set to expire through June, Delta automatically extended it to the end of 2020. 

To be clear, Delta's response has not been perfect. The airline has struggled to properly process changes or cancellations online, erroneously displaying a $200-plus change fee.

Like all airlines, call wait times have been horrendous. Once-speedy responses via Twitter direct messages now often take hours – if not days. While unused companion certificates have been extended, we've heard from many travelers trying to change or cancel a companion flight who lost that certificate.

But in many measures, Delta has set the bar for how airlines can respond to give travelers more leeway at a time when no one should be traveling.


Bottom Line

This is a difficult time for travelers and an absolute crisis for airlines. Every airline can improve, and Delta is no exception. But it has continually outpaced its peers in its response to coronavirus.


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.

11 Responses

  • Just a heads-up – the eCredit may not show up immediately. I managed to get through on the phone before this policy was introduced, and was told it’d appear in my wallet. It didn’t. Others on Flyertalk have confirmed the same.

    I guess their systems are overwhelmed, since the “My Wallet” section takes forever to load and often just times out. I did notice that if you hit refresh a bunch of times it can occasionally pop up. So it’s definitely there, just not always visible – again, likely due to strain on their IT systems.

    Just a heads-up to avoid panic if you don’t see it immediately!

  • Delta made sure to change their flight time from ATL to Lima on March 16 so the flight would arrive 2 hours early and be back in the air before Peru closed its borders at 11:59pm.

    My mom and I were a few of the lucky ones who were able to change the tickets and make it to Lima on time to leave.

    American Airlines and their partner airlines stranded the rest of my family by simply canceling their flights.

    Delta is my ride or die airline. If they don’t fly to a destination then neither will I. They are sometimes more expensive, but their service is unparalleled and the money I spent is well worth it.

  • Thank you Delta for your professionalism and great customer service during this difficult time. I have always loved flying on Delta, but you have made me a loyal customer for life the way you have handled cancelations, changes and service issues has been outstanding. Everyone I have come in contact with has had a pleasant attitude and has been more than helpful.

  • Question on this statement — If you change flights (but not your destination), Delta won’t charge you the fare difference if you reschedule your domestic flight before May

    Do you know if Delta will give you a credit if the re-booked fare is lower than the original amount for the same destination?

  • Late on Saturday night Delta processed two refunds for two ladies whose trip was for today,
    so that I wouldn’t have to figure out how to do it, as our office was closed. The agent was an angel–the only bright spot in this disaster. I’d love to see you do an article on the gaggle of Trip Insurance companies that are doing everything possible to weasel out of covering these desperate travelers. I’ve now spent over 17 hours on hold, 6 disconnects after holding for two hours each time, left 4 call back messages, and still haven’t reached anyone at any company, Same with Expedia. US STATE says not to go. What are they supposed to do?
    Delta is one of a kind. If we survive as travel agents, we will not forget them.

  • I to have had a very positive experience with Delta with a cancellation due to the covid19 virus.
    It was a trip to Orlando bought with miles. We were traveling with an infant so I needed to talk to a representative I was on hold for 47 minutes which is not a problem now with a cell phone on speaker. 2 minutes with a representative and 5 minutes later my miles are back in my account. Thank you Delta for stepping up to the plate during this difficult time. You are my airline

  • Is Delta processing refunds for flights that the airline has cancelled? We are booked to PVR/Mexico (family of 8) in April, and are holding on waiting for the airline to cancel rather than cancelling ourselves. This is in the hope that we can get a refund to our Delta Amex card rather than ecredits. Any info would be great. We always choose Delta and will continue to in the future! I haven’t wanted to call because our is not for almost a month and many others have more important and pressing needs.

    • They are required to process refunds for canceled flights, but it’s not clear across all airlines whether they’re doing this. Stay tuned.

      • UPDATE! I got a REFUND for my tickets, rather than an ecredit!
        I contacted Delta’s Refunds department via phone on 3/30. (800) 847-0578. The reservation itself did NOT show the flight as cancelled, it only said to contact Delta. But I knew the flight was not operating based on Delta’s updated flight schedule information. I was on hold maybe an hour, not bad under the circumstances. The rep was able to confirm my eligibility for a full refund (not just an e credit) based on the fact that the airline had cancelled the outbound flight. The tickets were refunded directly by the agent. I have all of the credits back on my Amex card this a.m!

  • Southwest has been the pioneer and your bags aren’t penalized for wanting to come with you. Cudos to Delta for bettering their customer service.

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