OI’ve previously written about the Delta Platinum Amex (with its now expired 70,000 mile signup bonus) and terms and conditions of that card’s key benefit: the Delta Companion Certificate.In Part II of this two-post series on the Delta Companion Certificate, I’ll walk you through the process of booking flights with the Companion Certificate.
Step 1. Plan Your Trip to Maximize Value
I touched on this in my prior posts, but as commenter jimbo astutely observed, you’re only getting value out of the Companion Certificate if Delta has a competitive fare for that route. Otherwise, sure, you’re getting a ‘free’ companion flight, but you’re also paying the opportunity cost of not flying on another airline for cheaper. Accordingly, I think the Companion Fare is best used in three situations:
Flights to regional airports where there are limited routing options. I fly to rural Midwestern airports a few times a year to visit family. Some of these towns are only served by Delta. So if I fly to Bemidji, MN, I know I’m taking Delta and I know it’s going to be a pretty expensive fare vs. flying to a larger city.
More expensive (typically long-distance) routes. I have upcoming transcontinental trips to Seattle and San Francisco, both routes served by Delta from Boston. There are multiple airlines on those routes which keeps the cost down, but fares never drop below a certain threshold (maybe $300) due to how long the flight is.
Last minute flights. With few exceptions, last minute fares are more expensive than advance fares. If you find yourself needing to book two Delta tickets with no warning, you may be upset about having to pay so much, but at least the Companion Certificate will help ease some of the pain.
While you can’t really plan for category #3, you can for categories #1 and 2. As I wrote previously, I like to plan my travel out roughly a year ahead. That way I know if I have any trips that fall into buckets 1 and 2 and can plan on potentially using my Companion Certificate while also keeping an eye out for competing fare sales.
Step 2. Search with Flexible Dates First
Once you decide to use your Companion Certificate for a trip, you should search with flexible dates to see when you can get the best deal. One drawback of the Companion Certificate redemption system is that it only allows you to search exact dates. Any easy work-around is to pull up a separate Delta window and search for your itinerary with flexible dates as if you were buying the ticket regularly. Because the Companion Certificate can only be used in fare classes L, U, T, V, and X, your actual Companion Certificate fare may deviate somewhat from your flexible search results, but it’s a good preliminary tool to see if any dates are more affordable than others.
Step 3. Select Your Companion Certificate from Your Delta Dashboard
Once you’ve found the travel days that work best for you, go to the My Delta page, and in the top right corner where it says “My Wallet,” click on “Credits and Certificates.”
Once you click through, you should see your Companion Certificate listed on the next screen. Click the checkbox in the “Select” column.
Step 4. Search the Itinerary and Dates that you Selected in Step 2
Plug in the dates that you chose from running the flexible dates search in Step 2. Hopefully the fare restrictions don’t rear their heads and you can book for the same price you saw in Step 2.
Step 5. Click Through and Watch Your Companion Certificate Get Automatically Applied
Pick your flights, pick your seats, and pick anything else you need to pick. When you get to the total price screen you’ll notice that your companion’s ticket is ‘free’ (except for taxes/fees, and of course the Delta Platinum Amex’s annual fee).
Step 6. Don’t Forget to Pay with Your Delta Platinum Amex
Remember that one of the Companion Certificate’s restrictions is that it must be purchased with the Certificate-holder’s Delta Platinum Amex. If you’ve buried this somewhere in your nighstand, time do dust it off and put it to work.
Hopefully this step-by-step guide to redeeming the Delta Companion Certificate makes the process less daunting. While this benefit won’t be valuable to everyone, if you find yourself regularly traveling on the trips described in Step 1, the Companion Certificate can be a great tool for saving a few bucks on an expensive itinerary.