How to make Delta's (bad) squeaky wheel policy work for you

If you spend much time around here, you know that I like flying on Delta. There are some catches, of course: if you prefer flying on Delta you'll probably want to get an American Express Delta Platinum or Reserve card and meet the high spend threshold in order to secure a Medallion Qualifying Dollar waiver (plus bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles). It's become harder to secure domestic First Class upgrades, but I've had great luck being upgraded to Comfort+ on leisure trips, even as a Silver Medallion (though I'll be a Gold Medallion next year).

But there's one area where Delta drives me positively nuts: their policy on meal vouchers for delayed and misconnected passengers.

Delta agents absolutely can issue meal vouchers

One of the great things about flying back to my hometown in Montana is that the outbound flights are inevitably overbooked. On my last two trips home I've taken voluntary denied boarding compensation of $1,300 and $800, so basically each trip I take home pays for another couple trips on Delta. Agents in my hometown also love printing out meal vouchers, so in addition to getting to relax at the downtown Hilton, I also get 3 $15 coupons to eat at the steakhouse there. Good deal, right?

Somebody told Delta's agents they can't issue meal vouchers

On my last flight back from Montana, my plane went mechanical and they had to fly a replacement jet in from Minneapolis, causing me to miss my connection back to the East Coast. When we finally arrived late at night in Minneapolis, Delta had already set us up with hotel reservations and boarding passes for flights the next day. Naturally, I asked the agent, "what about meal vouchers?" and he replied with a straight face, "no, we don't do that anymore."

Keep in mind that 36 hours earlier I'd received $45 in meal vouchers printed on Delta ticket stock out of a Delta agent's computer.

So, being me, I started bitching about it on Twitter, and after I explained the situation over DM, Delta's Twitter agent replied:

"I will have to get more information on that because you were just offered a voucher for meals on yesterday. I will reach out to airport Leadership to get some additional information on that. It may be only certain stations that offer meals. Corporate will definitely reimburse under the circumstances."

Reimbursement procedure

This wasn't exactly tricky but I'd never done it before so I want to spell it out for my readers. To get reimbursed for my meals, I did the following:

  1. Visit Delta's "comment/complaint" page here.
  2. Select "voice a complaint," then "after trip."
  3. Fill out the personal information and flight information.
  4. Explain the situation, ask for reimbursement, and attach any supporting documentation.

For my supporting documentation I attached both the receipt for my meal at the hotel bar that night and screenshots of my entire exchange with Delta's Twitter team, stating the bill would be reimbursed. I don't know if the Twitter screenshots were strictly necessary, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I did not include the itemized receipt, just the credit card receipt showing the total amount charged (useful if you remember the details of my Chase Sapphire Preferred trip delay insurance post).


I filed my complaint on September 29. On October 14, I received an e-mail stating they had issued me a check for the entire restaurant bill I submitted, and the check I am now holding in my hands was dated October 16 (I was out of the country last week and only just checked my mail).

This is bad

Now I know how to do this, and since you're a faithful reader, now you know how to do it too. But of the 100+ passengers on my misconnected Delta flight, all of whom were owed meal reimbursement, how many of them got it? I'd be stunned if you told me a single other person on that flight went through this procedure and received the reimbursement they were entitled to.

Were they lazy? Were they stupid? No, they were just told by an authority figure that they weren't entitled to anything, and they accepted it, because what else were they going to do?