The folly of Delta Airlines gift certificates

The end of the year is quickly nearing and I still haven’t used my $200 airline credit offered by the Platinum American Express card.

I decided I was going to try and purchase Delta Airlines gift certificates to see if possibly the credit would count for that purchase and I needed to buy a plane ticket anyways.

I went to to try and find where I could purchase Delta Airlines gift certificates. I found that you can not purchase the gift certificates online, only at a Delta Ticket office or an airport location (except for these states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island). I also learned that gift certificates are not redeemable at and only at a ticket office location, your travel agency, or an airport.

The fortunate thing about living in Utah is the airport is easy to get to and short term parking is cheap and so I decided to make the trek up to the airport. I waited in the Medallion check in line and went to the agent to buy my gift certificates.

She didn’t realize that they could even sell gift certificates and told me that she has never had anyone buy one. A call to the supervisor and she was shown how to purchase the gift certificates. I told her I wanted one for $200 and she asked who the “from” name should be. I told her it was from me. She asked me who the “to” name as from and I said it was me as well. She looked at me with a really puzzled look. I explained to her what I was doing and why, and that I was going to turn around and use the vouchers to purchase a ticket. She didn’t understand at all but issued the gift certificate none the less.

I was then passed on to another, more experienced agent in order to book my tickets. He also questioned why I was using the gift certificate after having just purchased it and informed me that the gift certificates are incredibly difficult to use for them when booking tickets. He also told me that there would be a $35 fee for booking the ticket.

So to recap – if you are looking to give Delta Airlines gift certificates to your loved ones, you must first drive to a Delta Airlines ticket office or an airport to purchase it. They in turn must also go to a Delta Airlines ticket office or an airport to redeem it and will be charged a fee to issue the ticket. I can imagine why Delta doesn’t sell any of these certificates! Why would anyone bother?

The agent ended up being able to book my ticket and he waived the $35 booking fee. The gift certificate purchase ended up not counting as an airline purchase either and therefore I did not receive the American Express Platinum credit.

So there you have it, don’t buy Delta Airlines gift certificates because they’re a pain to use.


  1. Using Delta’s eGift Cards is such a pain I want to scream every time. I have used an eGift card with $1,000 initial amount three times to buy domestic flights. “Unable to process” or “Reloading” is what I get. No confirmation email would be sent making me wondering if the purchase was even completed. I had to call customer service in India every time to check. When there is any remaining balance on the eGift card, a new certificate with a new number will be issued for use next time. The website never gives that number so I have to call to get it. I have sent comments on Delta’s website but nothing has been done. Very frustrating!

  2. I purchased 2-$200 gift certificates for my father and his wife for Christmas in 2013. The gift certificates were to expire in December 2014. The day before they expired, my father went to the Cincinnati airport to purchase future travel to preserve the value of the gift certificates. At that point, he was told (after being there for 2 hours) that they could not look up the reservation based upon the information that he had. Evidently, the person who put the documentation together neatly in the envelope I was given did not include the document with the actual redemption code on it. I then called the customer care number to be told the same thing and was instructed to call back with my credit card statement in hand that illustrated my purchase. I spoke with another gentleman that evening who was not able to assist me and suggested that I personally go back to the Tampa airport to work it out with them. My first reaction was-if Delta does not train their people to sell gift certificates, I’m not sure I have faith that they will have the competency to resolve this problem either and given it was Delta’s error-why am I going to go stand in line again to remedy this? I was then switched to a supervisor who finally told me to call corporate. When I called corporate, guess what happened? I was told there was NOTHING they could do for me! By this point, I have spent literally 4.5 hours trying to deal with this issue including waiting for a representative and being on hold while they attempt to look up the information even though I have told them that the ticket number on both the gift certificate receipt and the one on my credit card statement do not pull up any new information. I expressed my dissatisfaction at the corporate level and that supervisor told me if I wanted to “escalate” the issue a manager would call me back between 48-72 hours. Hmmmm, I’ve paid $400 to Delta, tried to remedy the situation before the expiration, filed a formal complaint on the Delta website and now am being told that nothing can be done for me at the corporate level. I have NEVER seen such poor customer service. I notice this year Delta has decided to finally sell gift cards online-I’m hoping this will remedy any documentation issue for people purchasing these types of certificates.

  3. Thank you to all. I was just about to “try” and order gift certificates online, but could not figure out how to do it. I found your posts. I will not be purchasing any gift certificates from Delta. Thanks for the education.

  4. I purchased 4, $250 gift certificates for my 2 sons and their wives last Christmas. Never again. I purchased them at the ATL airport, and it took the agent plus 4 other agents 45 minutes to figure out how to issue them. So long that the agent gave me a handful of drink certificates to thank me for being so patient. Kids were excited. My son from Norfolk went to the airport and they were redeemed immediately. Unfortunately my son from Kansas City had to make 4 trips to MCI before the agents finally figured out how to issue the tickets. As a premium flyer on Delta I hate to admit this, but this Christmas were buying Southwest gift certificates! Delta — wake up and make the certificate program user friendly. You’re missing a lot of potential revenue here.

  5. Your experience seems a lot like Delta’s description; “When you’re looking for the perfect gift idea, look no further than a gift certificate from Delta. They’re the ideal way to simplify all of your holiday, birthday, or special occasion shopping, while making sure you’re giving a gift that will truly be appreciated.”

  6. @jason i bought around $150. obviously YMMV.

    ps sorry for the absurdly late response, i just googled delta gift card so that i could use this year’s credit before i close the card and found this. i had completely forgotten so i was shocked to see i had posted a comment 🙂

  7. Erndog I used my us air companion certificates wisely this year, on an $800 fare. Saved $1500 for my 2 companions. Year before, I saved $700. Where’s the agony? ’cause I’m not seeing it…

  8. i bought delta miles during the promotion earlier this year and that was reimbursed. obviously less good now that the promotion’s over but if the credit isn’t going to go anywhere anyway, at least that would get you something.

  9. Just buy drinks for everyone on the plane, you will get the credit, and may make a few friends, THE BENEFITS ARE ENDLESS!

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