Delta Imposes Newly Restrictive Award-Booking Policy

Effective immediately—or whenever it was that Delta posted the new rule to its website, with no notice to SkyMiles members—SkyMiles award tickets for travel that doesn’t begin or end in the U.S. or Canada must be booked at least three days in advance.

Here’s the verbiage Delta added to its site within the past few days:

Award Tickets that do not originate or end in the United States or Canada have a three-day advance purchase requirement. This includes routes like Paris (CDG) connecting through New York City (JFK) to Sao Paulo (GRU), or Shanghai (PVG) to/from Tokyo (NRT). No Exceptions. The advanced purchase applies to all Award bookings in the affected markets.

This is presumably a fraud-prevention measure; a disproportionate amount of illicit award-ticket activity involved overseas travel, particularly from Russia, China, and Africa.

Whatever the motivation for the newly restrictive policy, its undeniable effect is to devalue the miles of any SkyMiles member who might ever wish to redeem his miles for travel beginning or ending outside the U.S. or Canada.

Not only will they be denied the convenience of close-in booking, but they’ll lose access to award availability, which often opens up close to the departure date as the airline releases unsold seats to award travelers.

Blame it on the overseas travel scammers?

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

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