Delta to raise award ticket fees, passengers to give up on award tickets

One of the most sensitive places that airlines have been pandering for extra money in has been in their frequent flyer programs. We’re well past the “I thought award tickets were supposed to be be free” argument in the airline circles — at this point, many travelers are just in hand-on-the-forehead mode, waiting to see how high fees will go.

Award tickets have always incurred a few fees. Taxes, most obviously, are always tacked on top of “free tickets” because the airline has no control over their imposition. But recently, “fuel charges” have started to appear, ranging in prices from 25$ for domestic tickets well into the hundreds for international fares.

While booking fees for award tickets have been around on some airlines (not all of them) for a while now, Delta just decided to up the ante and take an extra gouge out of frequent flyer’s pockets starting today:

  • For Award Tickets issued 21 days or more before departure date, no fee is applied.
  • For Award Tickets issued 8 to 20 days before departure date, a $75 fee is applied.
  • For Award Tickets issued 4 to 7 days before departure date, a $100 fee is applied.
  • For Award Tickets issued 3 days or less prior to departure date, a $150 fee is applied.
  • The fee is waived for Award Tickets issued from a Platinum Medallion® members’ account

For example, someone needs to fly to Milwaukee this Sunday from Atlanta because his or her mother is sick. Market price? 258$ Book an award ticket on Delta? “Free” plus 150$ in taxes. Net saved, 158$ 108$. You tell me if it was worth saving up that 25,000 miles.