In August I noted a change that ‘unpublished fares’ would no longer earn full mileage on Delta.
Some coach fares only earn 50% mileage credit, and the lowest coach fares only earn 25% mileage credit — and may not even earn elite bonuses or class of service bonuses for paid premium cabin tickets.
The challenge is that they don’t tell you upfront whether any given fare is published or unpublished, although for now everything available at Delta.com counts as published.
Delta says that “Unpublished fares are normally purchased through a specialized agent, third party or to a group” but works like “normally” and including “third party” makes the whole thing very opaque, so far corporate travel agency (“third party”) bookings seem to be earning full mileage but it now seems that some online travel agency bookings are not.
Delta Points reports on a Travelocity booking that earned only 25% of flown miles. It’s not clear whether this was a package (“air + hotel”) or whether it was a ‘special rate’ stand alone air purchase.
But it seems pretty clear that at least some online travel agency tickets are being treated as consolidator fares by Delta, which per the new September rules are no longer going to earn full mileage.
The person traveling in the example cited received their elite upgrades like normal. It’s understandable that a Delta elite would want to stick with Delta, and perhaps it was cheaper to do so via Travelocity — although making their Travelocity purchase they certainly thought they were going to be getting full mileage. And there’s no reason why they would have expected otherwise.
Delta hasn’t gone the Frontier route of cutting mileage earning on all online travel agency fares.
But they’re making changes where the customer doesn’t clearly know what to expect.
I’m not a regular Delta flyer, so I can’t say from experience, but with other airlines I’ve had no problem obtaining elite benefits by entering my frequent flyer number at booking, and then once upgraded and checked in and baggage checked if that applies switching frequent flyer numbers at the gate (or if any pushback, just removing my frequent flyer number from a reservation and submitting for credit after the fact).
Right now it still seems possible to credit Delta flights that would only earn partial miles in the Skymiles program to other airline frequent flyer programs like Alaska’s. Although at some point that, too, could change.