The last year has been the year of SkyMile and Delta Devaluations. This time, Delta has very quietly made another change to the way they handle bumped passengers. I, in fact, only found out about the change because I took a volunteer bump on an oversold flight in exchange for a hotel room and a $400 volunteer denied boarding (VDB) voucher. In the past, passengers who voluntarily gave up their seat were provided with a VDB voucher, hotel accommodations if the flight was for the next day, and meal vouchers for both that night and the next morning. For those passengers who were not stuck over night, but faced a 2.5+ hour delay, Delta commonly offered up to $15 for dinner in voucher form.
Being a savvy traveler and a huge fan of traveling for free (how do you think I’ve traveled the world? Answer: Points & vouchers!), when I noticed that my flight was oversold on Expertflyer, I reached out to @DeltaAssist to figure out how many people the flight was oversold by. @DeltaAssist told me they were not allowed to be specific due to job requirements, but it was more than four people. Turns out, the flight was oversold by 5! I volunteered before the agent even made the announcement, and then sat in the Delta SkyClub and tested out the new upgraded amenities while waiting for the plane to board and the agents to finish their paperwork.
Once the plane was push backed from the gate and departed, I was called to the desk and handed my VDB voucher and hotel voucher. It was about 8pm and I inquired with the red coat (Delta’s customer service agents who are among the top agents that can do just about anything to keep passengers happy) who was handling the bump passengers about a meal voucher for dinner and breakfast. The agent apologized and told me that the meal voucher program was discontinued as of 1/7/14! What?!? How did I miss this announcement? Just 8 months ago I was bumped on a flight and instead of receiving a one-time use voucher I was provided with a receipt that had a value of up to $25. The voucher had a barcode that could be scanned at multiple locations and the value was deducted from the total. This updated food voucher allowed bumped passengers to get a coffee at Starbucks and then a meal elsewhere; it was a HUGE improvement to the meal voucher program! The voucher basically worked like a prepaid charge card. Well guess what? Per the agents in Atlanta that enhancement is gone, along with all meal vouchers for bumped passengers!
After the first red coat denied me a meal voucher, despite being delayed for 14 hours, I decided to stop by the customer service desk in terminal A. I wanted to confirm if the vouchers were actually discontinued. The agents in TA told me the same thing as the initial red coat, “meal vouchers have been discontinued as of 1/7/14.” The agent was nice and apologized and told me. He was surprised by the policy change as well. Since meal vouchers were discontinued, I decided to head to “The club” and have a nightcap and enjoy a proper meal before heading my hotel. The Club at ATL tends to have sandwiches, soups, and more along with top shelve alcohol—all free of charge as I have free access thanks to my Priority Pass membership, a perk of my American Express Platinum. Along my way to The Club, I stopped two additional red coats and visited the customer service desk in terminal F. In all three locations the agents confirmed what I was already told. No meal vouchers for bumped passengers as of 1/7/14.
Still in disbelief, I reached out to a Delta blogger and Delta’s biggest fan René via twitter @DeltaPoints. Like me, he was shocked about the change and said “That’s just wrong.” I personally have no problem spending money on dinner, especially after being given a $400 VDB voucher, but displaced passengers who voluntarily give up their seats should not have to pay for their own food in my opinion! It’s more the principle of the matter than anything else.
Well there you have it folks, Delta has further devalued their service. Not only do bumped passengers no longer get “Y” class which means no instant upgrades or 150% miles on their rerouting, but bumped passengers do not even get meals when displaced overnight. I have been struggling to leave Delta over the last few years, but this Delta Devaluation, along with the SkyMiles 2015 revenue program has reconfirmed the reasons why I’ll stop flying Delta & explains why for the first time in 5 years I am no longer Platinum.