No, Delta did not kill stopovers on awards


Remember yesterday when five different bloggers (OMAATx2, VFTW, FTG, DP & FM) shouted from the rooftops about Delta changing the policy on awards to preclude stopovers from being booked? Me, too. Just one problem with that “news” as it was presented: The policy didn’t actually change. Delta still permits stopovers on awards, just like they did last week. Oopsie.

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What did change is that the website will no longer book such awards. That’s annoying and frustrating as a consumer but it is still possible to book those awards by calling in to reservations. Those are the facts as relayed to me in a conversation this afternoon with a Delta spokesman.

Beyond the facts, of course, is when I get to have a bit of fun with speculation. The changes to the website which were loaded up recently and which caused the panic are not the first to come as part of the prep for the new SkyMiles award plans. And, as I understand things, they are also far from the last we will see in the next few weeks. Delta is in transition mode and there is a lot yet to come on this front, especially with the way the website functions. Does that mean stopovers will eventually disappear? Maybe.

It is entirely possible that stopovers go away with the coming of one way awards. American got rid of them recently as well (and with no notice; oopsie). Actually American did it twice, first in 2009 dropping the stopover at the international gateway and then again earlier this year where the stopover at the North American gateway was dropped. United still has stopovers in their award rules except for awards wholly within the Lower 48, Canada & Alaska. And it seems to reason that with Delta making a change now to “support the future SkyMiles plans” that perhaps this is Delta tipping its hand a bit. But that is far from confirmed. Very far.

I do know that I’ll be keeping an eye on the Delta site a bit more than normal over the coming weeks. I expect we’re going to learn a whole lot very soon about what’s coming in 2015.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for getting the full story… Sucks that one needs human intervention to book a stopover now. Does one need to “pay” to speak w a DL agent to book this?

  2. Reservations agents were seeing awards price higher with stopovers, too. It wasn’t just a website glitch. They’ve put out a memo now to res agents. Good luck with agents being aware of the issue, or successfully managing to manually price.

    I did not claim this was a devaluation, I asked whether it was the elimination of stopovers on international awards? Or whether it was some kind of a glitch, and suggested in my post that a glitch was entirely plausible.

    But if you think you’re getting a reasonable story from CorpComm then you’re far more gullible than I thought. What this amounts to is if you know you’re really supposed to pay fewer miles, you can play phone roulette until you find an agent who can help. Hopefully they’ll at least waive the telephone booking fee!

    Delta continues to charge members more miles than they’re supposed to, with no notice on the website and no indication so far that they will be refunding these overcharges. That may be the result of a tech change, but it’s still a big deal.

    1. Gullible how, Gary? The alternative story is that Delta decided to kill stopovers, didn’t tell anyone, implemented the change and then when confronted by 5 angry men suddenly backpedaled and undid the changes. That seems a far less likely reality to me.

      1. You said “[w]hat did change is that the website will no longer book such awards” when in fact call center agents were pricing awards the exact same way (higher price) as the website.

        It’s a mistake to downplay the change, since there are members who have been overcharged for their awards as a result of the change — a change which was intentional, and which Delta confirms will not be reversed.

        You also by the way completely mischaracterized the position and explanation I gave in my post. I said it was either a change without notice or a tech issue, and it turns out to have been… an intentional tech issue, and a change without notice to the ability to book these awards at stated pricing on the website.

  3. You’re being uncharacteristically generous to Delta in your interpretation.

    Nothing they said to you indicates that the removal of stop-overs from the web site was a technical error rather than a deliberate policy decision. It’s pretty clear that they’re banking on people “purchasing” awards online for the higher price which seems kind of sleazy. I think it’s fair to say that their policy has changed to 1) make it much harder to book that stopover itinerary and 2) trick people into paying the no-free-stopover price.

    Furthermore, I don’t think anyone has any evidence other than the assurance of this Delta spokesperson that stopovers can be booked — or will eventually be able to be booked, if additional training is required — via an agent.

    Eliminated stopovers? No, not entirely. But cut back on them fairly drastically? Yes.

    Finally, there’s really no other explanation for pushing out this programming change other than that they’re going to be removing stop-overs completely with their next set of updates to the program. So the upcoming elimination of stopovers isn’t confirmed, but I don’t think it’s “far from confirmed” either.

  4. I think you are being a bit generous towards Delta here. How many people trying to book award tickets know the rules? If a customer just goes ahead a books the higher award will Delta refund the miles? I bet not. Why is there no message posted on the website saying if you wish to book a stopover award please call the reservations center? I do not share your optimism that this is merely a glitch, I hope I’m wrong but I think it’s goodbye stopover in 2015. 50000 miles to fly a crappy KLM/AF coach seat with a nice table in the middle, I don’t think so. Anyone who as reservations for 2015 I hope you don’t need to change them.

  5. The Delta online booking engine is reknown for offering up pricing challenges when dealing with more than one segment on a trip. That is not new. To say that suddenly the site is much worse at such is to ignore the history of the past few years.

    Are stopovers likely going away? It sure seems that way. Are they gone yet? Nope.

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