5 Tips From A Delta Reservation Agent

What’s the best site for finding airfares? How do I score free upgrades? Will anyone actually try to call my bluff when I claim a bogus bereavement fare? No one is better suited to answer these questions than an experienced flight reservation agent.

Earlier today, one such Delta agent offered herself up to a ton of these questions during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.

Here are some highlights we cherry-picked for you:

1. On the best site for looking for airfares:
“Bing.com/travel – the fare predictor is pure genius. Not even Delta agents have access to that information. A close second would be Skyscanner.

In general you want to book 6 weeks to 12 weeks in advance. Any earlier and the flights won’t be on sale, any later and the others will have already snapped up all the low fares. Award tickets are another animal though…

I love that skyscanner lets you search with the airport code “USA”. It brings up all the flights from the USA to a particular destination. Often it’s cheaper to book one ticket to the coast and a separate flight internationally. Skyscanner makes planning that easy.”

2. In response to a reader who suggests getting a cheaper flight by booking a flight where your actual destination is the layover stop and then just get off at the layover.
“That works only for one way tickets and if you aren’t checking bags. On a roundtrip, skipping any flight in the itinerary causes all the remaining flights to cancel. So your return flight will cancel too. If you check a bag they’ll check it all the way to your end destination any you won’t be able to pick it up at your ‘layover city.'”

3. On booking super far in advance:
“Unless you’re booking business/first class, booking super far in advance is always a bad move. Airlines charge higher fares for those reservations. It’s just like in the tech world where the early adopters pay more.”

4. On unethical behavior that people use to score discounts/fee waivers:
“There are lots of unethical ones like booking child fares for adults to get 10-20% off or using bereavement/medical exemptions to get cheaper last minute fares or to get agents to waive change fees. Delta/AirFrance/KLM require a bit of info such as a hospital name, address, and phone number for a medical fare but they NEVER call to check up on it so I’m surprised more people don’t just lie about it.”

5. How to complain your way into free upgrades/miles/etc:
“[A]fter your flight you should call or email (preferably the later) and let them know about every single thing you didn’t enjoy about your flight (food, movie selection, rude flight attendant, tray table didn’t work, wifi didn’t work etc). The airlines have a specific department to deal with complaints and they’ll give you tens of thousands of miles, free business lounge passes, travel vouchers, drink tickets etc.”

You can check out the whole session at Reddit.

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