As Delta continues to hack away to frequent flyer benefits, another precious perk is getting an unwelcome makeover this week. Starting Tuesday, April 23, changes to Delta’s same day change policies go into effect.
Here’s what you need to know:
>You can now request a same-day flight change at any time prior to your flight’s departure. Previously, you had to wait until three hours before to request the change.
>However, the fare class of your original ticket must be available on the flight you want to switch to. Since most of us fly on discounted fares that are not available at the last minute, this is where the new policy gets ugly.
>Gold Medallions (and higher) can switch to flights within a three-hour window before or after the original flight for free, but only if the same fare class is available. If same fare class is not available on the new flight, they can take their chances and standby for free. If this new flight falls outside the three-hour window, they must now pay a $50 fee to reserve a seat on the desired flight.
>Long suffering Silvers and non-Medallions still have to pay the same-day-change $50 fee plus any other fees based on fare restrictions (which can be hefty). But now they can pay a $50 same day standby fee for an earlier flight. The fee is not charged until they clear the standby list and are seated on the plane.
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>All passengers, regardless of Medallion status must make any changes before the original flight or they lose the entire value of the ticket—no refunds or credits.
>Same day standby passengers are not eligible for upgrades. However, the same day confirmed option is eligible for upgrades. Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion members can be placed on the upgrade list if they are confirmed on the flight. However, standbys will not clear until the upgrades have been processed.
Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec summed the changes for TICKET readers like this: “To boil it down in the simplest terms, the same-day confirmed program is for when the original fare class purchased is available on the day of travel and therefore can be confirmed. The same-day standby option is for when the original fare is not available, but still offers customers an option to make last minute changes based on overall seat availability on the day of travel.” Skrbec suggested readers refer to Delta’s webpage devoted to this thorny issue.
Delta is, as usual, spinning this as an enhancement of benefits:
We understand that travel plans can change last minute. And we want to accommodate those changes the best we can. That’s why our same-day travel change service offers options when you need to make a change to your flight.
This change is especially frustrating for business travelers, Delta’s bread and butter, whose schedules change frequently, especially at the last minute.
Confused by all this? Is there anyone who sees the positive in this? What do you think? Please leave your comments below.