Welcome to a weekly feature on the Eye of the Flyer blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
I get a ton of comments and emails suggesting that I must work for our “beloved airline” that is Delta Air Lines. If I did, I would never write a post that talks about strategies that help a flyer to avoid one of the most lucrative revenue sources for the airline (you know Delta is the king of the ring when it comes to bag fees). On top of that, one of the most looked at posts ever on Delta Points by Delta CORP computers is my last post about this topic. But let’s take it even further in a rookie way!
Step one is understanding the bag rules. They are so complex that Delta has a chart. Not a simple chart, a crazy complex chart. A chart so long that even made very small it goes to two pages. Two pages of exceptions, rules and restrictions. I ask you, how many front line reps do you think understand ALL these rules. Then, once you get to some remote stations, how many understand the Skyteam rules that should apply as well? Ugg!
So what can we learn from this? Time to break it down and know this, as a rookie, you can have power over our airline. Medallions really don’t have as many concerns but there are times you run up against limits too so these ideas can help you as well.
- Reps don’t know the rules. When you look at all the exceptions to the bag rules we can see why a rep may just be confused. You can print to a PDF a copy of the page and save it to your phone or tablet or just print it on paper and bring it along. Why? Once a rep digs in you will not win unless you can prove you are right! My Delta folks always tell me the BEST source for CORRECT information is Delta.com. Feel free to point that out to the front line reps!
- Get to the airport early. If you are early, and have issues from the above point, you will not be stressed and in no rush to just pay and go! So, for so many reasons, why not get to the airport early!
- Ask for a Red Coat (customer service specialists who have additional power). If you know you are right, ask for a supervisor or a Red Coat agent. The front line rep may back down rather than have a higher up show them up. The rep may say they are not available and they will make a one time exception for you. Who cares what they say to you as long as you get the bag free!
- @DeltaAssist. This is another reason to get to the airport early. If you are having a disagreement over a bag fee you could real quick send a DM or direct message to @DeltaAssist and ask them to note the record that you should get the bag free (that is assuming you should). Then ask the front line rep to please check the notes in the record to see that you are, in fact, entitled to a free bag. If they still say no you now have a great “paper trail” when you complain on Delta.com later for a refund and a ton of Skymiles for what happened to you!
- Bring it carry-on! Ya know, you could just about bring a steamer trunk on-board a Delta jet. Delta is hopeless at enforcing the carry-on size (but keep in mind they once in a blue moon do). But, at the gate I have never ever seen a gate agent say no if you then ask them if you can check this bag to your final destination.
- Mega purse. Boy you want a fight on your hands then challenge a woman’s purse. Just not a good idea for an employee to do. Your purse can be amazingly big before any rep is going to talk to you (and a smaller personal purse can fit inside it).
- Backpack! Just like your carry-on a backpack should fit in the size check box but most of the time if it is on your back you will get past check-in. Just like HUGE carry-on bags this is a way to get extra for free. Don’t want to bring it on-board? Once at the gate just ask if the gate agent could please check it to the final destination (for free).
- Your personal item. You are allowed a carry-on and a personal item. Maybe a smaller backpack can be this personal item since most men don’t carry a purse. I am sure your laptop could fit in the backpack so it is your laptop bag. Either way, a big carry-on and big personal item and there may be no need to check a bag at all.
- If you do have to pay to check a bag after all then max out weight. Your bag can weigh 50 lbs so rather than pay for two small bags bring and pay for one big one! Even if you have to buy a bag it may cost you less than the fee for the second bag and then you have the bag to use on other trips – right.
- Bend the rules. I had a post about what things you can ask a rep to do for you. But even so, when it comes to bag fees, if the rep says free, it is free. If you have been a medallion in the past why not toss that out there. If your husband/wife is a Delta elite, but you are not toss that out there. If you are almost a Delta million miller toss that out there. If you can show you have been loyal to the airline maybe they will bend the rules for you (as they should IMO).
- Jacket pockets. I touched on this last round too. If you can stand it, wear a ton of stuff and then pack a bunch of stuff “on you”. Scotty Vest stuff is a bit extreme to me, but it can be done.
All of these are ways to avoid adding to Delta’s fee piggy bank. Clearly, there is much less risk of being held to paying a fee if you just have a Delta AMEX card. I have a post HERE showing all the perks of having a Delta card like the Delta Platinum. The other options are the Membership Rewards Platinum card that will credit you up to $200 a year in fees for things like bags.
Another good idea is to have an empty duffel bag in say an outside pocket of your checked bag so if something happens and you are overweight you can move things. Keeping that in mind you should always weigh your bag before you go to the airport and I always stay 2 lbs short of the max weight because for some reason the airport scales always seem to weigh a little bit heavier in SBN (South Bend) than my scale at home 🙂
That is just about it I think. Clearly achieving any elite level with Delta will give you much more flexibility when it comes to bags. Make Gold Medallion or higher and bags are really not an issue for you anymore. Well almost never. There can be times when you want to fly with a lot of bags. Then, even as a medallion, you can apply some of these ideas on top of your free checked bags! – René
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