Follow-up to our airline saga
As many of you know, most of the time I book our flights directly with the airlines, and usually with Delta (because of points and status).
We've been daisy-chaining 3 Tauck tours and accompanying sets of flights for over two years now. More recently we have been working on re-booking flights for our second and third attempts at tours, using tickets and eCredits from previous cancellations. Luckily, last year Delta dropped a leg so we couldn't fly to Amman, Jordan, and were able to get a refund for Jordan & Egypt 2021 flights. But this Spring we were approaching a bind with flights for our recently cancelled May 2021 Treasures of the Aegean and XMAS Mkts 2021 which was cancelled a few months ago (a story in itself!).
The rules/policy kept evolving and changing and it was difficult to tell which ones applied to which flights, when tickets and eCredits would expire, and how to apply them, etc., etc. Though arguably remote, the potential existed that we could lose a significant amount of the nearly $13K we had tied up in airline tickets. Trying to make sense of all this and come up with a strategy to avoid losing money, I started calling Delta last month. Delta had previously waived all change fees, so one Delta agent suggested we might need to change our tour flight(s) to a short, very inexpensive domestic flight(s) so the price difference would be issued as eCredits with expiration dates further in the future. Then we could use the credits (plus $) to book our tour flights!
All agents kept suggesting we should wait, advice evidently given with knowledge of a major upcoming policy change. Luckily I took their advice!
Two fortuitous events just happened which resolved all our issues.
First, Delta decided to extend the expiration date for all tickets and eCredits until 31 Dec 2022! That, in itself, took care of almost all our issues. Then, this week, Delta changed our Treasures of the Aegean flights- they added a leg and a 6+ hour layover to both outbound and inbound legs, but ultimately the new inbound flight was physically impossible to make- it departed Athens before the ship was due to arrive in Piraeus! Normally, that would have been a triple whammy, but since the tour had already been cancelled and we were going to cancel our flights anyway or attempt to re-book them for 2022, it allowed us to cancel our flights and get a cash refund instead of eCredits.
We still have some work to do- cancel our XMAS Mkts flights, book our 2022 J&E flights in early May, and book our 2022 Treasures flights in July (as per our usual modus operandi, at the beginning of the 330 day booking windows). That should all be a piece of cake.
FYI, Delta allows you to cancel a "non-refundable" ticket for a refund if there are "significant changes" which is, unfortunately, an undefined DOT term. I could not find the definition anywhere on the main Delta website, but, after some serious Googling, I finally found a document on the Delta Professional website at this link . However, it is a COVID era policy that covers when "Travel agencies 'can' refund . . . ". According to the last Delta agent I spoke with, a significant change qualifying for a refund is obviously when the flight is cancelled or if a connection can't be made, but also when there is a 90 minute change in arrival time or a longer layover, one or more legs are added to a flight, etc. I still want to see that definition in writing on the main Delta website.
Anyway, for now all is good!