Delta and American Express announced a slew of changes (mostly good) to their lineup of cards that take into effect on January 30, 2020. The Delta companion certificate perk is staying on, even with the changes. In addition, Delta and AMEX also announced refreshed (and better) signup offers.
What Is The Delta Companion Certificate?
The certificate is good for buy-one, get-one (plus taxes) airfare on almost any domestic Delta flight. Platinum SkyMiles cardholders earn a certificate good for a main cabin round-trip or one way ticket. Reserve cardholders earn a certificate good for a round-trip in main cabin, Comfort+ or First Class.
When used correctly, this perk can be worth far more than the $195 fee ($250 for signups after January 30, 2020 — see rates & fees) on the Platinum SkyMiles card, or even the $450 fee ($550 for signups after January 30, 2020 — see rates & fees) on the Reserve card.
Small business owners and sole proprietors (and even those who do a little freelance work) can double down on this perk. The Platinum Business SkyMiles and Delta Reserve for Business cards from Amex also come with companion certificates.
Earning the Companion Certificate
It takes a full year from the time a card is opened for the first Companion Certificate to post. Both cards come with some Delta purchase credits that kick in the first year, which should offset the initial fee. After the first year, cardholders earn another certificate each anniversary.
After paying the first renewal fee, the Companion Certificates can be found along with other travel vouchers in the Certificates and E-credits section of a Delta.com account.
Choosing An Eligible Flight
Both Platinum and Reserve Companion Certificates are valid for one-way or round-trip travel between the lower 48 United States. For Delta SkyMiles members living in Alaska or Hawaii, things get a bit more complicated. More on that later.
- Tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance.
- The certificates are valid on most discount main cabin fare classes (specifically L, U, T, X, V). Reserve cardholders can use the certificates on full fare first class (A) and Comfort+ (W) fares.
- The certificates can be applied to a higher fare class so long as there is space available in one of the lower fare classes.
- In most cases, certificates must be used on round-trips lasting from 3 to 30 days.
- It is possible to apply a cert to a one-way fare, but the certificate will be used fully in that case and you won’t have a certificate to use on a second leg.
- Certificates expire, typically 13 months after they are issued.
Don’t worry too much about finding the appropriate fare class; Delta’s website will find eligible flights automatically.
Companion Certificates can now only be redeemed online. Follow these steps to score your companion fare.
Accessing the Certificate on Delta.com
First, log in to the Delta SkyMiles account associated with the right credit card.
The companion certificate will appear alongside vouchers from cancelled flights, gift certificates and other forms of credits.
Once you select and activate the companion certificate, you’ll be taken to a search dialogue box that will automatically perform a search for eligible fare classes.
Eligible flights will appear as usual, though the Companion Certificate badge will appear at the top of the home page.
I didn’t actually book this flight, but the booking process from here continues as usual.
Beware of Cancellations
If you cancel a flight on a companion certificate outside the 24-hour hold period, you lose the certificate. This occurs even if only one of the passengers’ itinerary is cancelled.
In other words: only book a Companion Certificate flight when your plans are certain.
The tickets can be changed, however change fees are applied on both tickets separately.
What About Upgrades?
Last year, Delta changed the rules on upgrades to allow both passengers traveling on a Companion Certificate to enjoy complementary Medallion upgrades to both Comfort+ and First Class seats.
The upgrade is processed according to the passenger with the higher status (even if that passenger is flying on the free certificate). Both passengers must be SkyMiles members or elite members of a SkyTeam airlines.
The passenger flying on the paid portion of the ticket will earn miles normally. The companion certificate passenger will earn neither SkyMiles nor Medallion Qualification miles.
Transferring and Gifting Certificates
Companion Certificates are transferrable as gifts, however Delta rules prohibit any sale or barter transactions.
What If I Live in Alaska or Hawaii?
Alaska and Hawaii residents with proof of residency can use companion certificates to either state. Bizarrely, Delta’s terms and conditions still require travel to originate in the mainland 48 states.
As written, the rules dictate that an Alaska or Hawaii SkyMiles member could use the certificate to fly from their home airport, but only as a returning flight on a round-trip originating in the lower 48.
This seems strange, and I’ve reached out to Delta’s public relations staff for clarification.
If used correctly, the Delta Companion Certificate is actually a great benefit. The process of redeeming the tickets online makes it easy to find applicable flights and take advantage of this perk.
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