A customer guide to traveling with Delta
Editor's note: This article originally published June 29, 2022, was updated Feb. 6 with the most up-to-date information.
At Delta, our team of 90,000 is focused on delivering a reliable, high-quality experience and minimizing inconvenience when circumstances disrupt scheduled operations. We deeply value the trust customers place in us to get them to their destination safely and on time. That said, we also understand the journey to people and places that connect the world sometimes doesn't go as expected.
Our culture is founded on the principle of having our customers’ backs, particularly if they experience a delay, misconnect or cancellation. We stand by our commitment to ensure customers get to where they need to be on a safe and clean flight, on time and with their bags. Here are steps you can take to make the most of your Delta travel experience, and what we can do to help when it’s needed:
Know Before You Go
Join Delta SkyMiles® to help our teams better serve you and stay connected in the air
When you create a SkyMiles account, you get more than just miles earned toward your next trip. Your SkyMiles account ensures Delta people more seamlessly know your travel details and preferences and can aid with reaccommodating should disruptions in your travel occur. Knowing you is better for serving you. Keeping your SkyMiles profile information up to date can help Delta teams reach you quickly and allows for direct contact and updates when needed.
Additionally, as of Feb. 1, customers with SkyMiles accounts can access fast, free Wi-Fi onboard most domestic mainline flights to stay connected throughout the journey. Free Wi-Fi is designed to fuel our version of more personalized travel, powered by your SkyMiles Membership.
Download or update the Fly Delta app
Delta’s digital tools offer quick and seamless options to make changes to your itinerary – either in the Fly Delta app, on delta.com or by using our messaging feature for further assistance.
Most times, the app provides the same tools and flexibility as a call to our Reservations center – allowing customers to make changes in real-time while on the go. Click on the “Today” tab in the app for boarding information, upgrade status, baggage location and key self-service shortcuts like same-day changes. The tab is updated in real-time with the latest and most important information customers need to make sure you never miss gate changes or a change in boarding times.
If you’re a SkyMiles member, logging into the app with your unique SkyMiles membership number and mobile number will allow us to contact you if needed and better serve you as you travel (make sure your mobile number is updated and accurate for day-of travel!).
Turned off notifications by mistake? Find the notifications selection in your device's Settings app and ensure Fly Delta app notifications are turned on. Manage your device's sleep mode settings accordingly, too, to avoid notifications being silenced.
Make sure to keep an eye out for any emails or text messages you receive from Delta with essential updates on your flight status, travel documents and what to know before you go to the airport. (This information is also available in My Trips.)
Breeze through security
To speed up your airport experience, enroll in CLEAR to breeze through security with either an eye or a fingerprint scan. U.S.-based SkyMiles members can enjoy preferred pricing on CLEAR memberships, and U.S.-based Diamond Medallion members can enjoy complimentary access to the program.
You can also consider applying for TSA PreCheck®. Customers with PreCheck not only have access to an expedited security line; thanks to Delta’s partnership with the TSA, qualifying PreCheck customers in ATL and DTW can move quickly and easily through the airport without scanning a boarding pass or showing a government ID. Digital ID uses facial matching technology to let customers check bags, move through security and board their flights completely hands-free.
Familiarize yourself with resources for customers with special needs
If you or one of your travel companions needs special assistance due to sensory, physical or cognitive disabilities, Delta and the TSA have a number of resources available to you.
- Atlanta and Minneapolis hubs offer familiarization tours that allow families with disabilities to practice the process of traveling through an airport in preparation for travel. At MSP, customers can tour a mock cabin and meet with volunteers to ready themselves for their journeys.
- Many airports, including Delta hubs ATL, LGA and SEA, offer sensory rooms for individuals with sensory sensitivities and their families. To use a sensory room, locate a Delta Red Coat for assistance. Review more resources for customers on the autism spectrum, including a complete list of available sensory rooms, here.
- Visit Delta.com for complete accessible travel services, including information on wheelchair assistance, service animals, dietary needs and allergies, and more.
Change or cancel your flight without a change fee
At Delta, we know that plans change. That’s why we allow customers who have purchased tickets for travel within the U.S. or traveling internationally from the U.S. to change or cancel their travel plans without a change fee. This includes tickets purchased for travel originating in the U.S. in Delta’s First Class, Delta One, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin, except for Basic Economy tickets. Note: Fare differences for ticket changes will still apply.
At the airport
Remember to take anything you might need on the plane, like phones or medication, out of your checked luggage first. Lithium batteries are prohibited in checked baggage.
As a general rule, plan to arrive two hours prior to your departure time for domestic flights and three hours for international flights – especially on heavy travel days.
Take advantage of in-airport prioritized messaging
In Delta’s U.S. hubs, customers experiencing mid-journey disruptions may access expedited Reservations service through a dedicated messaging channel that can assist with immediate travel needs.
If you experience a delay, you may use the Fly Delta app to self-service, message our customer service team, or locate a Need Help Center where you’ll be greeted by a Delta professional for additional assistance.
Retrieve your checked bag within 20 minutes—or earn bonus miles on us
Delta guarantees that bags from Delta-operated domestic flights will be delivered to baggage claim within 20 minutes. If a customer’s bags are not delivered in that time, SkyMiles members are eligible to receive 2,500 bonus miles. Further, if a bag is delayed and a customer has to make purchases because it was not received, the customer is entitled to reasonable expense reimbursements.
If your bag is delayed, proceed to the Delta Baggage Service Office in the baggage claim area where you’ll be greeted by a Delta professional for additional assistance.
How Delta people are working to support you in case of flight delays or cancellations
“Care While Waiting” carts at the gate
To ease the disruption of unexpected delays, “care while waiting” carts stocked with water and snacks are often available at the gate to help refresh customers waiting on their flight. In some cases, flight attendants can also request that these extra supplies be brought onto a parked aircraft.
Vouchers for hotels, meals, ground transportation for unexpected stays
Vouchers can often ensure more comfort during uncertain or unpredictable travel.
Meal vouchers will be provided at the airport to customers if a cancellation or delay within Delta’s control causes a wait of three hours or more beyond the scheduled departure time. Hotel accommodations and ground transportation will also be provided at Delta contracted facilities, based on availability, if customers are inconvenienced overnight while away from their home and the cause of the delay, misconnect or cancellation is within Delta's control.
Flight cancellations and refunds
When cancellations become necessary as a last resort, Delta Reservations specialists coordinate with our Operations and Customer Center to get impacted customers on the next available Delta flight. If necessary, we will rebook customers on flights operated by other airlines. If a customer’s new itinerary no longer fits their travel needs, Delta continues to provide full and timely refunds to eligible passengers. Customers have options to request a refund on Delta.com.
Delta teams strive to notify customers of itinerary changes as far in advance as possible. We’ll send updates directly to a mobile device or by email if this contact information is included during booking or added later via My Trips online.
A waiver allows customers to change their itinerary with no fare differences if they remain in the same cabin as originally booked. Delta most commonly issues waivers ahead of weather events that we know are likely to cause cancellations and delays – allowing customers to make sure they get where they need to go by flying earlier or later than initially anticipated.
Once posted to delta.com, customers with travel to, from or through a city listed will receive a notification of the waiver via email, Fly Delta app notifications, or SMS messaging. Customers will be guided from there through the process of making changes to their itinerary, should they choose to do so.