My experience “buying” drinks for 600 Delta flyers in just 24 hours

If you look at my 1.1 terabyte iPhone photo library, you’ll find plenty of photos of my travels, my family and friends… and Delta drink vouchers.

It all started on Sunday morning when I logged into my SkyMiles account and noticed I had 12 free drink vouchers due to expire on January 31st. Although I’m a self-proclaimed pro when it comes to maximizing travel perks, I’ve never had a chance to redeem these drink vouchers.

Instead of just letting those vouchers go to waste—or booking a last-minute flight to test my alcohol tolerance—I turned to my Instagram and Twitter channels to see if some followers can use them.


Within minutes of posting an Instagram story, I had tons of passengers sharing their upcoming Delta travel plans and asking for a free drink voucher.

I quickly burned through the vouchers in my account and thought I was done.

But I opened Instagram a few hours later and found hundreds of direct messages from Delta frequent flyers sharing their expiring unused drink vouchers.

“Love this idea, here’s 16 more vouchers,” read one message.

Another asked, “Wait, how do I find these vouchers?” After giving step-by-step instructions on how to find the vouchers (in the My Wallet section of your SkyMiles profile), this flyer shared his 25 unexpired vouchers with me.

After class, I felt like Delta’s unofficial bartender. I had more than 600 drink vouchers in a new album on my phone, all waiting to be sent to Delta flyers traveling over the next few days.

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At that point, supply was outstripping demand. There were so many travelers that I could find.

I took yes Twitter, hoping the community there will help find more passengers. I managed to donate about 100 more vouchers via Twitter, but I still had 300 left on my phone – and more were pouring in every minute.

I needed to get my creative juices flowing. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a personal assistant like popular DJ Diplo, who posted that he sends his assistant to the airport to hand out expiring vouchers to fliers.)

Turns out I had plans to fly from Chicago to New York on Monday. Although I had originally booked a ticket on United, at the last minute I decided to switch and fly Delta. That way I could donate as many drink vouchers as possible to those on my flight.

As it turned out, I chose one of the quietest flights of the day because there were only 16 economy passengers on my 132-seat flight and no one wanted a drink at 10:30am on a Monday morning.


So I returned to my seat, resigned to letting nearly 300 vouchers go to waste – until I met my neighbours.

They were a group of Delta flight attendants traveling to New York. They were about to begin a multi-day trip that took them on multiple flights before Tuesday.

I thought this was the perfect opportunity, so I turned around and greeted them. After a few minutes of conversation I asked if they would like to surprise and delight the passengers for the next two days with free drinks.

Not only were they happy to join in on the fun, but they shared some of my remaining vouchers with other flight attendants working over the next few days.


While my tenure as Delta’s unofficial bartender is coming to an end, the fact that I gave out more than 600 drink vouchers in a matter of hours shows that thousands of vouchers in circulation are about to expire unused.

Delta gives away four of these coupons every time you earn Gold, Platinum or Diamond Medallion status. However, these higher-level Elites are often upgraded to Comfort+ and First Class – both of which include complimentary alcoholic beverages.

This means that the only time a Medallion member can use a drink voucher is when sitting in the main cabin or when sharing the voucher with a friend or family member.

These cases are seemingly few and far between, resulting in what appears to be a significant amount of breakages of these vouchers.


Perhaps Delta will use this experience to rethink how it handles beverage vouchers. Perhaps it will join American and United in guaranteeing free drinks and snacks to top-level elites when they are in economy. That would be one less reason to issue those drink vouchers.

Until then, you might find yourself at the end of January on a Delta flight with free drinks. You can thank generous Medallion members for giving away what is probably one of the most underutilized benefits of SkyMiles status.

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