Can an airline just deduct more miles for an award?

Delta Airlines.jpg

I had an interesting encounter with Delta SkyMiles customer service as a result of my last award trip on Delta. I went over the booking & redemption process in my last post – Booking complex awards. As I mentioned I redeemed 50,000 miles for that award. I had major problems on the return trip. The Air Jamaica flight from Kingston (KIN) to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) was delayed by 3 hours! This messed up my connections: FLL-ATL-IAD. I called Delta and explained my situation to them. The agent on the phone was very helpful and found me alternate flights. She did want to charge me a $150 change fee, though. When I explained to her that I was missing the flight due to Air Jamaica’s delay, she waived the fee after confirming with the Air Jamaica gate agent that their flight was indeed delayed. I was very thankful of the Air Jamaica agent who took the time to speak to Delta. I flew back home, a bit delayed and thought I was all set.

On checking my mileage balance a couple of days later, I saw that SkyMiles had deducted an additional 10,000 miles from my account, for the new itinerary! I actually have no problem with paying the extra miles. If it cost extra miles to rebook, so be it. My problem was that they withdrew the miles from my account without my permission. When I called Delta SkyMiles Customer service, they had the audacity to tell me that as I had given them access to my SkyMiles account at the time of the initial booking, they could deduct more miles, as needed, if the trip was rebooked! I asked to speak to a supervisor. The case I was making was that I never gave permission to have the miles deducted. I would have, only if I had been asked. The supervisor never even came on the phone, the agent came back and said that they were giving me my 10,000 miles back. MIles were back in my account within minutes.Delta A320.jpg

I am happy that this encounter with Delta SkyMiles turned out fine in the end. But, it really had me concerned. My miles are my property. I own them, legally. When I redeem miles, what kind of access am I giving the airline? Am I giving them permission to deduct more miles, if they deem fit, without my permission? Or was what Delta did really wrong?

Share your opinions and thoughts below. Have you had a similar experience with a mileage or hotel program? Do share below.

You can get regular updates via email or RSS by clicking on the RSS link here. I post updates on Twitter and Facebook on the Airline Industry, Airline Miles and other Loyalty Programs.

This Post has been Sponsored by Affordable Calling


  1. You don’t own your miles, Delta does, but that’s beside the point. If your trip is interrupted by irregular operations there’s no legitimate reason to charge you more miles to get you to your ticketed destination. That’s where Delta went wrong, and if they had asked you to deduct additional miles that wouldn’t have been ok. Now, at the airport trying to get home I probably would have agreed, too (and taken up the issue of the mileage refund later, as you did…).

  2. Yeah, I understand that airlines can ‘take away’ the miles awarded at any time if they feel that one is violating the Ts&Cs of the program. I still strongly believe that they cannot deduct more miles than I agreed to from my account, without my explicit permission.

  3. I was hoping you’d answer that question as to what kind of access you are giving the airline when you book a reward ticket and if you are giving them permission to deduct more miles, as needed, without the traveler’s permission? I’m guessing that they were “wrong,” since you didn’t have too much of a hassle getting your miles back. What about people (like me) who don’t pay as much attention as we should to our accounts? I guess they’d have gotten away with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *