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pshuang Dec 25, 17 12:01 pm

Remaining balance from Delta e-certificate in US dollars buying international flight
This might be well known to heavy volume Delta travelers, but I had never used a large Delta (or any other airline) e-certificate denominated in US dollars to buy an international flight.

In September I used a quite large Delta e-certificate (issued to me for VDB) denominated in US dollars (USD) to buy a relatively inexpensive ticket originating in Canada. Reasonably enough, quoted me the price of that flight in Canadian dollars (CAD). However, unexpectedly, what did to carry out the transaction was to convert the entirety of my large e-certificate into CAD, deduct enough CAD to pay for the ticket, and then issued me a new e-certificate now denominated in CAD. At the time I didn't look carefully at what happened, assuming that could manage to do the math correctly. My assumption would have been that they would convert the CAD price quoted to USD, deduct that USD amount from my USD e-certificate, and issue me a new USD e-certificate.

I recently wanted to buy another ticket, saw that my new e-certificate was in CAD, and having been thusly exposed to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, I was down somewhat less than $100 because USD had appreciated against CAD in the last three months. Kudos to Delta corporate customer support that when I called them, the phone agent listened to the situation, put me on hold to do a little research, and then took care of making me whole by issuing me a new $100 USD e-certificate that I received within minutes. The Delta phone agent suggested that had I called to buy that Canadian ticket, the phone agent ought to have been able to carry out the transaction the way I had originally expected. I used my CAD e-certificate to purchase a US domestic ticket, and as now I expect, issued me my remaining balance in a USD e-certificate.

I'm curious if folks have seen this on Delta and if folks have seen this same currency exchange behavior (or different behavior) for other airlines.

Had the currency exchange rate swung the other way, of course, such that holding CAD over the last three months would have benefited me, I wouldn't have called Delta. :) However I certainly wasn't SEEKING to play in the foreign currency exchange market.

As a side note, when I compare to the published currency exchange rates that were in effect on the date of my September ticket purchase, as far as I can tell the exchange was carried out within 1% of that published rate. I generally expect that fair exchange transactions carried out at retail and not wholesale scale to only be within about 1%, so didn't try to nickle and dime me on the exchange per se. It just shouldn't have exchanged the entire amount of the original e-certificate, in my opinion. The $100 customer satisfaction compensation ended up almost perfectly covering the small exchange loss for the conversion in both directions. The USD value of my September ticket (at time of purchase) plus the USD value of my new ticket purchase plus the new remainder value USD e-certificate plus the $100 USD compensation e-certificate adds up just about right to my original USD e-certificate.

Hope this info is useful to others.

tentseller Dec 25, 17 3:34 pm

IME, online DL purchases are always charged in the currency of the originating country. (US Cdn HK UK)
E-credits are converted to local currency and then applied to the ticket. I was never fortunate enough to use an e-credit with residual value so I do not know how the unused portion in different currencies is treated. From my international business experience it is sometimes you win and sometimes you lose in these currency exchange situations. Most multi-nationals are understanding and will make good your fx losses.

sydneyracquelle Dec 25, 17 5:53 pm

As a DM who does most of my travel between Canada and the U.S. I always try and have my tickets issued in $CDN as frequently as possible as the change fee/penalty is only $200 CDN as opposed to $200 U.S. With a family of 5 travelling and making frequent changes, this little trick has saved me thousands over the years.

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