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Cancel your Delta SkyMiles award ticket before departure, or lose it all

by on Mon August 1, 2011 • 19 Comments

Delta SkyMilesDelta announced last week on FlyerTalk that it is implementing a new SkyMiles award ticket policy. If you don’t cancel your award ticket before the departure of the first flight, you will forfeit the miles altogether. That’s similar to the rule for non-refundable paid tickets — if you don’t cancel those before the departure time, you won’t be eligible fo residual credit.

This probably doesn’t impact the rank and file frequent flyer too much as there’s already a $150 penalty for any changes or cancellations — so you’re already very likely to take the flight you’ve booked. But it does impact the elite Platinum and Diamond Medallion members. For them, there are no fees for changes and cancellations of reward tickets. So, they have an incentive to be lazy — book a ticket as a placeholder, and then forget about it. Well, that forgetfulness added up to 400,000 seats going out empty last year according to Delta. Now, the threat of losing the miles altogether should keep them organized.

This is a more draconian rule than other airlines, but it does make some sense. If you don’t plan to use the free ticket, have the courtesy to cancel it before departure so others can use the seat. Just don’t say you weren’t warned…


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19 thoughts on Cancel your Delta SkyMiles award ticket before departure, or lose it all

  1. Bill Paulson

    I am trying to change my delta flight from Panama City ,Panama to Fort Lauderdale Florida that I purchased with sky miles. They show my miles for the original ticket as 24000 miles with $75 fee then new flight as 25000 miles and $75 fee. Then taxes of $10.56 and $150 fee. I understand the $150 fee and taxes , but do I get my 24000 miles back and then charged the 25000 miles or do I lose both.

  2. PJ

    I may need to cancel two tickets due to a medical situation with my granddaughter. She and her mother might not be able to go. Do I have to pay to put those miles back into my account?


      @PJ – Give Delta a call on that one (1-800-323-2323). They might be able to waive the fee to redeposit the miles with a doctors note.

  3. Lorraine Brown

    Can I cancel my trip purchased with skymiles without being penalized in losing the skymiles that was used for the trip?

  4. patrick

    Delta moves up my departure flight by 25 minutes. I don’t think I will be able to make it. Can I have my skymiles redeposited without paying the fee? Thank you


      @Sandra – If you booked them in one single reservation, yes. If you booked them as two separate reservations then you’ll get charged the fee twice.

  5. Daniel

    Is it possible to cancel a round trip ticket which was purchased using miles without a fee? Can I get miles back doing this?


      @Daniel – Unfortunately no, there is a redeposit fee of $150 to get your miles back unless you are a Platinum or Diamond Medallion level flyer.


      @Kelly – Yes as long as it’s more than 72 hours before your first departure time. She can have them cancel and redeposit the miles for $200.

  6. JOE

    I have purchased a Delta ticket to Chicago with Delta sky miles award ticket and I wanted to cancel one leg of the trip and use the return ticket.. Is that possible to do?


      @JOE – Unfortunately you would have to get an entirely new award ticket, and pay the fee to redeposit the miles you used for the original award.

      Delta doesn’t allow one-way awards for half-price. But you could book a ticket from Chicago on the day you want, and then fly ‘back’ to any city you want on a later date as part of that ticket to make it act like a round-trip. That way you get something extra you might want to use later. For example, fly Chicago to Atlanta if that’s your hometown. Then Atlanta to Denver some later date as the ‘return.’

  7. Lilian ureta

    Hi , I have purchased a ticket to Los Angeles with delta with miles ; but I like to cancel that ticket to used my miles with delta for a ticket to chile. Is that possible to do????


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