Warning: Delta May Want to See The Credit Card Used For Your Flight

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Daraius:  Emily booked a trip to the Dominican Republic using my Delta miles to celebrate her birthday with her friend Kristen.  But they almost didn’t board their flights because Delta insisted on seeing the original credit card (my card) used for the award flight!
Delta Check In ID
We Almost Didn’t Make it Here!
Emily:  For my birthday, I planned a trip to the Dominican Republic for me and my friend Kristen.  I booked the flights using Daraius’ Delta miles and his credit card.  This was the first time I booked an award flight (Daraius said that I had to learn!)

The Delta website had lots of errors, but I finally managed to book our flights.  I flew from Austin and my friend Kristen was flying from Washington, DC.  We were meeting in Atlanta and connecting to the same flight to Santo Domingo.

But the agent at the check-in desk wanted to see the original card which I had used for the booking.  Kristen was asked for the original card at Washington DC as well!

Obviously Delta has a flawed policy because two people can’t check into different flights at different airports with the same physical credit card in their hand.

Daraius:  I was at home and got a call from Kristen telling me that the agent wasn’t letting her check-in unless she showed the same credit card which was used  to make the booking.

I spoke with the agent and explained that the reservation used miles from MY account and MY credit card, so it wasn’t as if someone got access to my Delta account and then booked a flight with their credit card.  But the agent was having none of that and gruffly told me to call Delta to fix the issue.

Kristen had only ~30 mins before the check-in time cut-off, so I called Delta and hoped that the issue would be resolved.

I wanted the agent to fix the issue as quickly as possible, so I appealed to her emotionally rather than logically.  I started off the call by jokingly (ok, not really a joke!) mentioning that she was the only one who could save my marriage because my wife and her best friend may not be able to make her 30th birthday celebration!  I also tweeted DeltaAssist to save my marriage, but was ignored!

Delta Check In ID
We Never Thought We’d Get on the Flights!

The agent giggled and I explained what happened.  Instead of mentioning that this was a stupid policy (how can 2 people in different airports show the same credit card), I said that I was happy to show her the credit card, but that there were only 30 minutes before boarding and could she do anything to help?

The agent said that showing credit cards was to prevent fraud and was in place for travel to certain countries.  She also said that a warning message should have shown up with the requirement to show the credit card at the airport while making the award booking.

Instead of arguing with her that this was a silly policy, I said that this was Emily’s first award booking and it is possible that she overlooked the message.  But the agent insisted that the card used to pay the taxes and fees had to be shown at the check-in counter & that she couldn’t do anything about that.

I casually mentioned that Emily and Kristen both had credit cards of their own and asked if she could change the reservation so that Emily and Kristen would pay the taxes and fees at the airport.  The agent put me on hold and said that she could do this.

Emily:  The Delta agent said that she would let me check-in if I showed her a picture of the card, so I called Daraius and asked him to take a picture of the card and text it to me.

But Daraius wasn’t answering his phone!

Daraius:  I was on the phone with Delta trying to fix Kristen’s ticket and I didn’t want to risk dropping the Delta agent by answering Emily’s call.  But she kept calling back and I realized that she must have the same problem.  So I asked the agent to fix Emily’s ticket after she fixed Kristen’s ticket.

Emily also texted me and asked for a picture of the card.

Emily:  A few minutes later, I got a text from Daraius with the picture, but the other Delta agent had “opened” my ticket in the system, and agent at the airport couldn’t check me in!  So we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

By this time, almost an hour had gone by waiting, and the ticketing agent & I were concerned that I’d miss my flight.  Tired of waiting for the other Delta agent, she reinstated my original ticket and used the text of the credit card photo to issue the boarding pass.  So, after an hour, I finally got my boarding pass!

Kristen ended up paying for the taxes and fees with her credit card at the airport after Daraius called to change the credit card used for the flight.

A Boarding Pass Never Looked So Good!
A Boarding Pass Never Looked So Good!

Bottom Line

Delta appears to require folks to show the credit card used to make an award booking – especially if the account holder is not traveling – more frequently than other airlines.  Here’s an article by Jason Steele which explains that this is more frequent for travel to countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Delta sometimes requires you to show the same credit card even for a regular ticket!  Here’s another post by View From the Wing about an employee who wasn’t able to board her Delta flight because she didn’t have the credit card which her boss used to pay for the ticket.

I understand that Delta wants to reduce fraud, but this policy is a bit silly.

What if you redeem your Delta miles for a family member or friend who stays in a different country?  Are you supposed to mail your credit card overseas?  A better solution could be to email or fax in a copy of your credit card before check-in to Delta for verification.  Or perhaps call or text you with a potential fraud alert (just like banks do) and have you verify the transaction and confirm that you used your miles and credit card for a flight.  Waiting to verify the credit card at the airport is silly.

Delta should also do a better job informing customers that they have to bring their credit card to the airport for certain flights.  They should also include a reminder to bring the credit card on the booking confirmation and on the email reminders about your flight, especially a few days before departure.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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