Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

Travel Troubleshooter: Delta stands firm on awards ticket

  • October 18, 2013 - 2:11 PM

Q: I recently booked four tickets between Milwaukee and New Orleans using my Delta SkyMiles so that my husband, son and my son’s friend could fly to our cruise port. All was well, but then my son’s friend’s parents decided that they would not get him a passport, so we had to make changes to the cruise and the airline to ­accommodate a new guest.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was great about making the change. However, Delta is refusing to make a name change. Its policy is never to make name changes. Delta offered to allow me to re-deposit the miles for a $150 charge per ticket, and then let me repurchase the ticket using SkyMiles. But the cost for the ticket has quadrupled, from 25,000 miles to 100,000 miles.

Since the airplane is otherwise full, the chance of me being able to get a ticket for my son’s friend on this flight is pretty much nonexistent if I release the ticket I have already purchased. I have appealed to the supervisor and Delta’s customer care department to make an exception, since I’m a loyal Delta flier. It has refused to bend any rules. Can you help?


A: I’m not sure if things would have been much different if you’d paid for your tickets with real money, as opposed to miles. Delta’s rules are uniformly strict, no matter how you settle the bill. It won’t change a name, which, by the way, is an industry-wide policy.

But you would expect Delta to take a close look at your case, if for no other reason than that you are a loyal customer. The airline is hitting you with two fees for changing your mind — first, the “re-deposit” fee and then the markup for booking tickets so close to your travel date. I can’t blame you for feeling like giving up.

My solution? Try sending a brief, polite e-mail, and if that doesn’t work, appeal to a manager. I list names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers on my customer service wiki.

I contacted Delta on your behalf. As it turns out, the new ticket will only cost you 50,000 miles. Changes in redemption levels are not unusual, which is why it’s important to check back often to see if you can get a better deal. As an exception, Delta agreed to waive the $150 reissue fee to allow you to re-deposit the miles at no additional charge.


Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, or e-mail him at

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