While searching for routes to get an Award Expert client home from China earlier this morning, I was surprised to find that Delta’s flagship A350 suites were available at a very reasonable price for next-day travel.
Delta operates or will soon operate its A350-900 featuring fully-enclosed suites in business class on the following routes:
- Detroit (DTW) – Tokyo (NRT) began October 30, 2017
- Detroit (DTW) – Seoul (ICN) began November 18, 2017
- Detroit (DTW) – Beijing (PEK) began January 17, 2018
- Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul (ICN) starting March 24, 2018
- Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS) starting March 31, 2018
- Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG) starting April 19, 2018
These suites are beautiful and well-reviewed even by the perspicacious One Mile at a Time.
Key City: Beijing
My client is traveling from Beijing to Detroit tomorrow. Award space was wide open on Delta: 94K miles for Delta One Suites, low taxes, no fuel surcharges, and no close-in processing fee:
Was waiting till the last minute key to using miles at reasonable price for Delta One?
I examined award availably this morning on all A350 routes. Prices are generally miserable, often in excess of 300K miles for a one-way ticket! Even though flights to/from Tokyo and Seoul appear to have plenty of space tomorrow and in the days ahead, the prices were far higher than Beijing.
Next, I proceeded to check till EOS (end of schedule) for all of the A350 routes above. While you can find (generally) 1-2 dates per month to/from Beijing in the spring and winter with 94K one-way space, that was it. Nothing to/from Tokyo, Seoul, Amsterdam, or Beijing at lower levels.
Other Options: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club + Air France Flying Blue + Korean SkyPass
Whenever you see 94K on-way space on delta.com, that means the lowest level “saver” inventory is available, designated by O-Class. That also means you can use other SkyTeam and partner currencies to book this space.
For example, tomorrow’s flight to Detroit is also available using Flying Blue for 100K miles:
Or only 60K miles on Virgin Atlantic (and the same low fees):
Remember that in addition to American Express Membership Rewards, Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic are also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and CITI Thank You Points. This gives you a lot more options in using your flexible points currency. Why would you ever use Delta or Flying Blue over Virgin Atlantic Flying Club? Virgin Atlantic charges on a per-segment basis while Flying Blue allows up to three segments per direction. Flying Blue also allows routing via Europe. It will rarely make sense, but in some cases it might make sense to use other currencies.
Also keep in mind that Korean Air would charge only 155,000 miles round-trip, but you can only book round-trip. Like Flying Blue, Korean Air would allow SkyTeam connections, but is not useful for direct flights compared to Virgin Atlantic.
94K is historically high for a one-way ticket to Asia in business class, but becoming the new norm. Even so, you don’t need to spend that much: use Virgin Atlantic instead. Remember, though: always check paid fares as well. We’ve seen attractive fare sales that are an even better deal than using miles. If you’ve been wanting to experience Delta’s A350 in business class and use your miles wisely, Beijing is your best destination.