I’ve been looking at the calendar trying to plan travel for the next several months and am struck by the total lack of reasonably-priced award space on Delta Air Lines for the next year. Want to book Delta premium cabin award space with a partner airline? Forget about it…it’s like trying to find a unicorn.
Delta Award Space On Partners Is As Common As A Unicorn
Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, but I’ve earmarked Virgin Atlantic miles for a transatlantic trip on Delta…it’s has been more than six years since I have flown Delta transatlantic and I’ve yet to step onboard a Delta Airbus A330-900neo or A350-900. I’d like to review Delta’s current soft product and more importantly review the Delta One Suite on a long(er) flight.
Because of the ridiculous, no-notice devaluation on Virgin Atlantic, I’m sticking to European routes. While that doesn’t leave much, I’m happy to book any flight between:
- Atlanta (ATL) – A350
- Detroit (DTW) – A350
- New York (JFK) -A330neo
and Amsterdam (AMS).
But in both directions for the entire calendar (through next June), there is not a single seat available in saver business class bookable with Virgin Atlantic or Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles.
Not one seat.
Should I be congratulating Delta on thinking it can sell out all its seats and need not offer any seats to partner?
I realize Delta has always been stringy with award space and we are still in a pandemic, but compare Delta to American Airlines and United Airlines, which have made quite a bit of transatlantic and transpacific “saver” award space available at very reasonable prices if you book in advance.
If I did want to use points, Delta wants over 300,000 SkyMiles each way for their flights…yeah, right.
It seems I won’t be reviewing Delta anytime soon. That’s because Delta has chosen to to not make any award space in business class available to partners, a sad development. Of course I could always pay retail if I really wanted to review it, but where is the fun in that? This whole game of miles and points is about avoiding exactly those situations.
But the game of miles and points is becoming increasingly frustrating and Delta has shown it just doesn’t care. And that is increasingly making Delta award space like trying to find a unicorn…
You can than Goody two shoes Bastian for that!! Just send him an email, he’ll take care of it for you!!
Yea was looking for similiar… JFK-MAD has some oneoff availability on a few days but pretty dry on other JFK-EUROPE routes
Delta unfortunately makes only a subset of its award space available to partner airlines to book. AF/KL reciprocates this action. Though if you start your journey in Mexico City you sometimes are able to book an itin Mexico to Europe on Delta with Skymiles for less than booking US/Canada to Europe, I think 65000 to 75000 miles each way in business.
I had the same experience as Evan as well, I did see award space JFK-MAD on DL’s 763 doing some dummy checks but it soon disappeared. See it, snag it and ask questions/make adjustments later, the rule of thumb for Skyteam award availability.
This is exactly the same situation I find myself in Matthew. Amsterdam is completely unavailable though I did find some space (3 pax) to Paris on Delta via Virgin Atlantic miles.
I have never seen points travel dry up like this before. A month ago there was decent space available all over. But trying to book a flight now for late August to SE Asia, as an example, is slim pickings. Complicating it even more is that you have to watch your transit situations. If you miss your connection it’s not like you can leave the airport and come back the next day in Asian markets. And with so few flights it’s not like you are going to get anything else that day. And you can’t do separate bookings in Asia as the Govt’s there are requiring single ticket transits only. Plenty of paid bookings available – but at the highest fares I have seen in C to Asia ever. There used to always be good options, even if on Asiana or EVA or Turkish. Now, forget it.
I have also been watching the old true and tired trick of waiting until 3-7 days out before travel and grabbing last minute award openings. Nothing. And we know full well not all of these flights are going out full.
I really believe that most airlines have just shut down most award availability with the hope that business travelers (or high yield leisure travelers) are going to wake up tomorrow and start paying these prices. It might be. But I am doubting it.
One positive data point. LH still opening space at very last minute in F.
That’s really good to know. Was my favorite use of last minute bookings over the years.
Sorry to hear that your loyalty points cant be used on a partner carrier. Looks like many of the awards are going to those that are willing to purchase them direct from Delta or those that are loyal to Delta. It seems only fair.
Gave up on using miles with Delta. Have almost 2MM and they are pretty much useless at least on the routes and dates I need. Now, what I found very interesting was that I was looking to book 4 tickets to GRU before Christmas to return after New Year. Coach prices are ridiculous starting at $2,500 per person but I found Delta One on same flight for $3,000. I thought it was a glitch but got booked. My assumption is that there is still not enough business travelers using that route so Delta is selling business class just a bit higher than coach. Go figure.
“… game of miles and points … Delta … just doesn’t care.” Yes, that.
They’re not called SkyPesos for nothing, although SkyYen would be more accurate. No racism, just simple math. Currently 300,000 pesos = $15,081, not particularly close to the cost of a one way business class seat between Europe and USA. Currently 300,000 yen = $2,726, very close to the cost of a one way business class seat between Europe and USA. SkyYen, with a massive conversion fee. In other words, a big rip-off.
Unfortunately, some people think that in some ways Delta is the industry leader. I agree that it may be the industry leader … in the race to the bottom. I too have almost 2 million SkyYen (nearly all from CC sign-up bonuses so only cost was my time and energy), been saving for a decent redemption (while I’m regularly able to use AA and UA miles at decent rates), now thinking it’s like waiting for Godot.
(FWIW, even SkyYen, with their miniscule value, in large enough numbers are enough to satisfy one’s craving for sign-up bonus. Not quite a high like 100,000 Chase UR, but some satisfaction nonetheless. Satisfaction of a craving or addiction is a form of immediate gratification, has nothing to do with the long-term or the repercussions of that satisfaction, thus SkyYen satisfy but beyond that … nada.)
” I too have almost 2 million SkyYen (nearly all from CC sign-up bonuses so only cost was my time and energy)”
…and what you could have earned from other, better cards instead of spending to get those Skymiles bonuses.
“ … and what you could have earned from other, better cards instead of spending to get those Skymiles bonuses.”,
WRONG, bad assumption.
Delta cards have always been my lowest priority, I don’t think I’ve missed ANY other bonus due to a Delta or MR card. Only 15% is from SkyMiles bonuses, 5% SPG transfers, 30% spend and miscellaneous. 50% from MR bonuses transferred to Delta prior to 2017 whenever I closed a MR earning card, before I finally decided to keep MR after closing a MR card simply by having another MR card. Having spent much of the past decade at LOL/24, it wasn’t difficult to obtain Delta and MR bonuses without sacrificing other bonuses. Oh yeah, I do have ~20,000 Delta BIS miles included in my 1.92M SkyYen accumulate over the past 20 years without any redemptions.
Please don’t miss the forest for the trees. The point, which I agree with, that Matthew is addressing is that SkyYen are way less valuable than other FF miles. One of these days I’ll find an elusive unicorn as some other commenters here have described.
What was once a 100K r/t is now at least 350K(often double that) assuming, as you said, it’s even available. I’m now burning our Skymile balance on coach tickets domestically. Decent deals can be had but everything is inflated with AMEX throwing around massive card bonuses.
They need to be broken up. Allowing massive industry consolidation was a foolish decision made by foolish people.
I don’t see how breaking up airlines will do much to alleviate this.
All airlines will try to race to the bottom, so you’ll just have them copy the same thing regardless of how many different airlines are out there. Even AA has said they are going to to this direction.
The eggs have been broken and scrambled, there won’t be any way to undo it.
I’m seeing the same problem with UA. Trying to use NH points for anything USA-Europe or Asia. Zero business saver on anything. Occasional economy saver on awful routes. But most international flights at exorbitant point prices.
@ Matthew — We easily booked LX J from LAX-ZRH-AMS using LH miles. Have you tried using AF miles for AF flights?
Want to get your blood boiling? Check out the new points prices for IC Amstel Amsterdam. We are done with IHG after we deplete our points. These crooks can go pound sand.
I recall spring 2021 seeing a lot of saver awards on Delta One (yes even the a350). Now that they’ve cut so many flights and more people are travelling it is indeed very very hard to find a saver award to go to Europe.
I must be lucky or fortunate with deals I been finding in paid business class round trip or one way when I booked about 5 to 6 months in advance even on delta app flying on KLM/AirFrance newer business class seats.
Now the main cabin round trip on delta was going for $925 round trip. So I booked a $1585 business from PDX to JFK to AMS to BRU with KLM 787-10 business class from the JFK to AMS portion since I wanted to fly KLM Business … they ended up doing schedule and equipment changes and got rebooked from PDX to ATL to AMS to BRU with delta one on a350-900 ATL to AMS leg. Now the return leg was main cabin (comfort plus free due to Platinum status) from BRU to AMS to MSP to PDX … they schedule change again on this route so eventually got on BRU to AMS to SEA to PDX where the AMS to SEA on a330-900neo and connections much better getting me home earlier.
So I always look on delta app how much it cost in $$ or miles to upgrade to premium or delta one in this case for the AMS to SEA leg. Well bam $147 or 14,300 delta miles to upgrade to delta one. Booked it so I have nice business most of the trip there and back on both newer business product..
Congrats. You got a great deal.
I would not look for flights out of ATL, considering it is the biggest hub and your are competing with many DL elites that are hub captives.
Try to make use of married segments logic and book XXX-ATL-AMS, YYY-DFW-AMS or the like. (From what I understand, these days, not just the faring of paid flights is driven by married-segments logic. Many carriers use it for awards as well.)
Me too. I had PDX-AMS booked on Delta metal with 50K VS points in May 20, moved to May ’21 due to COVID-also found flight for 50K points; had to cancel again due to COVID. Now looking at May/June 2022, not a single flight from PDX, SEA of SFO to AMS using Virgin Points. Can find flights from LAX, or to LHR, for 75,000 VS points + $700. No thanks.
So, it looks like you are trying to use Virgin Flying Club miles (or AF Flying Blue) to book Delta flights. It may be helpful to clearly state that you aren’t using Skymiles (some of the comments above show confusion on this), and why you aren’t using Skymiles. Personally I find Skymiles useless, and have stopped flying Delta for that reason.
Spoke with Virgin yesterday and they told me that Delta has restricted all their partner awards. Where Virgin often used to get 9 biz class seats a flight, Delta has now made it a max of 5.
Delta is so overrated. United has a far superior international network and hasn’t completely destroyed MileagePlus (yet).
Matt, I feel your suffering. On Flyertalk they say for every hr for fly time in a premium cabin you will spend 10 hrs searching for rewards space through DL. Many late nights on the web and countless hours on the phone with DL Global Ticket Support.
I just recently booked RT 2-seat (O) business class tickets JFK-DPS for late OCT. KL on the outbound and KL/AM/DL on the return. 30+ hrs each way. I probably do have 60hrs of searching in the books.
The kicker – not the best soft or hard products by any means. Good but not great.
Correction on return DPS -JFK. Flights are “KE”/AM/DL
A point to add. The cash price of these tickets comes in at ~$25,000.00. Miles 702k or $7,020.00. If you calculate the valuation of the miles to the $25,000 cash price then the redemption comes into about 3.56 miles per dollar. Super saver premium cabin redemption, I would say yes!
The seats are out there. Be patient dig deep and you will be rewarded (no pun intended).
April 2020 I was able to book LAX to Tokyo in Delta One for 64K. We had to eventually cancel the trip all together. Now it’s more than double. I’m hoping it’ll come back down.
That shows what Delta thinks of frequent fliers.
People are starting to learn, the points game isn’t what it used to be. It’s turning into fools gold.
You should have the guy from OMAAT look for you–he always seems to be able to find business saver awards, even for multiple folks and on/very close to the days he wants to travel.