No U.S. airline has given flyers more time to use travel credits and vouchers from canceled trips than Delta. After its latest extension earlier this year, Delta flyers can use their eCredits for travel through 2024. But now it seems the Atlanta-based airline is plotting something even bigger.
Delta executives suggested Tuesday during an investor conference that they're considering removing expiration policies from eCredits altogether. That could mean that Delta eCredits from canceled flights would be valid indefinitely, removing any time crunch to use them or lose them.
“It’s our intention to really have those be out and never expire,” Delta President Glen Hauenstein said. “We intend to keep those out and let people have them until they want to use them.”
Hauenstein didn't go into any details about that pending decision or when it could get announced. When asked when any official news may be coming, a Delta spokesperson said the airline had nothing more to add to Hauenstein's comments.
Not sure where to find your Delta eCredits or how to use them? Check out our complete guide!
Travelers have racked up tens of billions of dollars in airline vouchers and credits throughout the pandemic from canceling trips. Almost every airline, big and small, has given travelers far more flexibility to change and cancel flights for free, making it even easier to rack up travel credits when plans change going forward – at least so long as you don't buy the cheapest basic economy tickets.
Delta even allows you to get a credit for the difference if the price of your flight drops!
But no airline has gone further than Delta, which has sought to portray itself as an industry leader with customer-friendly moves like blocking middle seats far longer than any of its competitors. And while other airlines have extended travel credits throughout the pandemic, Delta's extension out through 2024 gives travelers much more time. Some American Airlines credits will begin expiring by the end of the month, while most United travel credits will expire come Dec. 31, 2022.
Hauenstein made it clear Delta sees an opportunity to set itself apart by taking the pressure off travelers to use their credits. That would also put Delta eCredits on par with SkyMiles, which never expire.
But as with anything in the endlessly complex world of fare rules and airline policies, the devil is in the details. Airlines don't want a boatload of unused travel credits floating around out there – and Delta has $2 billion in eCredits outstanding, chief financial officer Dan Janki said. Hauenstein even mentioned that they'll need to work on some accounting and “breakage” in order to make eCredits last for life.
One thing that's unlikely to get an indefinite extension? Delta companion tickets, which countless travelers have thanks to perks from co-branded Delta credit cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Because that's a perk negotiated with American Express as part of its credit card offerings, making it much harder to make a unilateral extension. Fortunately, Delta and American Express have extended those certificates several times over the last two years – most recently, last summer.
If Delta plows ahead by removing expiration policies on eCredits outright, it would solve a major painpoint for travelers and a massive source of criticism. As airlines handed out billions of dollars in vouchers in the early days of the pandemic, some federal lawmakers called on carriers to either proactively issue refunds for flights that customers canceled due to COVID-19 concerns or make vouchers valid indefinitely.
Surprise, surprise. After going further than any other airline by extending travel credits, Delta is apparently plotting an even bolder move by making Delta eCredits last indefinitely.
While it's short on details and unclear when it might happen, it's clear something is in the works at Delta.