Delta’s e-credits don’t work. How do I fix them?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Theodore Schmiechen cancels his Delta flight, he receives credits for future travel. But the credits don’t work, and the airline is making it difficult to book a new flight. What should he do?  

Question

I recently canceled two flights and submitted a refund request with Delta Air Lines. Delta denied my refund but offered two e-credits for future travel. The problem is that they are both still listed as “open” with an “oops, we can’t value this coupon” message. 

I’ve contacted Delta’s customer service department repeatedly, with no response. I then called, and after two hours on hold, a representative told me I would need to call Delta reservations to book flights manually. 

This is just not an option for me. I need the e-credit so that I can easily book new flights. I can’t find any good reason why Delta makes it so difficult for me to use credit for canceled travel. Would you please reach out to them and ask that they convert the open e-credits into two actual credits for $1,402 that they already approved? — Theodore Schmiechen, Philadelphia 

Answer

Delta didn’t have to refund your tickets, but it should have offered credits you could use. The type of fare you booked is nonrefundable, but you can still get a reusable flight credit. Delta never promises the credit will be easy to use.

So why would an airline make a ticket credit difficult to use? That’s easy. If you face so many obstacles in redeeming a flight voucher, guess what? Chances are, the customer will never use it. And that means the airline gets to keep your money and give you nothing for it. Pretty good deal for the airline, huh?

There are ways to prevent a problem like this from happening. First, you could have booked a refundable ticket. Unfortunately, those tickets are often ridiculously overpriced. They’re often two or three times more expensive than a nonrefundable ticket. So, while you can get a refund for them, you’ll pay dearly for flying. 

Timing is important, too. You have 24 hours to cancel and receive a no-questions-asked refund on most airline tickets. So if you had canceled your flight within this time frame, you wouldn’t have had to worry about the e-credits. You’d have all of your money back by now.

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A qualified travel agent might have advised you on the best kind of ticket to book for your trip. Agents can sometimes bend a rule on refunds. A resourceful travel advisor can sometimes get a refund a few days after you book your ticket, even if it’s nonrefundable. Tickets are sometimes issued hours or days after being booked in your agent’s system, giving them extra time.

But the best person to turn to in your case is you. I loved your case because it’s a great example of effective self-advocacy. I supplied you with the names, numbers and email addresses of the Delta Air Lines executives on this site. You contacted them, and within a few days, you had working e-credits. 

Good job! I love the fact that you were able to fix this yourself, without the help of my advocacy team. Companies create seemingly impenetrable systems designed to turn away customers with legitimate requests. It’s nice to see someone find their way over the wall and get the outcome they deserve.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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