This is a post in our series of Delta Secrets we’ve learned over the last 11 years flying this great airline that just happens to have a more “interesting” way to find flights you want to take at the miles you want to spend.
I get a tremendous amount of emails asking for help strategizing, planning, and even booking award flights with Delta miles in Business Class. We toyed with the idea of a booking service a few years ago, but sadly time, the day job and family don’t permit me to help readers booking award flights. For those who truly need help, I point them in the direction of Juicy Miles, an award booking service that charges a small fee to find the optimal award routing and facilitate the booking process for the flyer.
In other circumstances, I try to put readers onto the right path with miles to use, routes to consider, basically dropping hints in the right direction without doing it for them. Hey, its a time consuming process to find Delta low level awards in Business Class. But I’m happy to provide any tips I can.
So when a reader recently asked for help booking an award to Italy in the fall, in Business Class, at the low level for two people using Delta miles, I pointed them to Juicy Miles. If I hadn’t, here are the steps I would have gone through to book my own flight. Hopefully this will give you a little insight into how I would go about using Delta miles to book two Business Class tickets.
First Off, Pointers Booking Delta Awards
Here are a few general pointers.
- Delta miles aren’t always the easiest to use, so be flexible
- Be flexible on your dates, routes, timing and airport destinations
- Don’t forget to use a free one-way award on Delta award tickets
- Use multiple sources to find availability – I use Airfrance.us and Delta.com to start
- Consider less direct routes – EWR to CDG comes to mind or the new partnership with Virgin Atlantic
The Steps I Would Take To Find Delta Availability
Step 1: Start with a general search
Go ahead and start with a general search on your preferred dates and routing. It can’t hurt. But you’ll likely have to go to the next steps if it doesn’t pan out.
Go to Delta.com and plug in your desired dates and routing. Be sure to click the “My dates are flexible” option.
The results of the search? Terrible availability. Just take a look at all the mid and high level award availability on the Orlando to Rome route.
Step 2) Try alternative routes and dates
Delta’s award search engine can only search so many routes apparently, so you have to trick it into finding routes on a segment by segment basis. I usually start with Airfrance.us website to search hub to hub for the key segments across the Atlantic, then work backwards for my flight.
After a search for Atlanta to Paris, I found availability for two on Air France.
This is great, it isn’t on our preferred date, but at least we can now get across the water. All we’ll have to figure out now is how to get from Orlando to Atlanta (easy) and from Paris to Italy (easier).
Step 3) Trick Delta’s website
Delta apparently thinks the “best match” for me is to rip me off by taking 75,000 miles when they don’t have to. I didn’t select “Delta Only” or “non-stop” flights. Yet Delta only shows the higher priced Delta awards at 200,000 miles.
But I’m not going to pay more miles than I have to and neither should you.
Step 4) Select “Miles Per Passenger” to Trick Delta into showing lower priced options
I still don’t know why Delta doesn’t fix this on their award search engine. I can only speculate that it will hurt them by having members redeem fewer miles or they don’t know about it (doubt that) or they don’t see an economic benefit to fix it. Either way, do this to avoid getting ripped off.
What do you know? There are two flights that require fewer miles.
Step 5: Find remaining segment availability
We’ve found availability from the U.S. to Europe, now we just have to piece together the remaining segments and call Delta with all the flights numbers that will price out at the low level.
The Orlando to Atlanta flight was so easy to find availability. The layover will be long, but hey, you are using Delta miles to fly Business Class, you should count your lucky stars
The next flight from Paris to Rome was even easier to find.
Then you’ll need to repeat the same thing for the return flight. So as you see, this is a time consuming task. That’s why I send people to Juicy Miles who are experts in finding low level availability on Delta.
Bottom Line: View final award and have a drink
By this time you’re thinking:
Novice Delta Flyer: “OMG, I Found Low Level Award Availability On Delta!!!”
Sure, you’re flying a round about way with three connections and flying longer than you have to. But your flying in Delta’s Business Class using miles, which is no simple task.
You’ll need a drink after all that just to find a low level award in Business Class with Delta miles. So grab a drink and enjoy knowing you’ll be flying to Italy in Business Class using Delta miles. But its a good thing Delta has some of the best bourbon in the sky, Woodford Reserve.