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How Delta miles for bulk and consolidator fares works

by on Fri February 28, 2014 • 2 Comments

Delta’s change in 2015 to earning flown miles based on the price of your ticket rather than distance flown is a big hurt if you tend to fly on long flights with basic economy class fares. You could be earning 1/3 the miles or less on some trips.

But it actually doesn’t mean the end of earning miles based on distance flown. In fact, because Delta can’t see the fare on some kinds of tickets there will be two ways to earn miles based on your distance flown, though at a much reduced rate versus before:

  • Flying on ‘exception’ fares (bulk, vacation package (including Delta Vacations, or other opaque fares)
  • Flying on partner airlines

The chart for flying on partner airlines unfortunately won’t be made available until the fall, but the chart for flying on Delta on its ‘exception’ fares is out and public. We’ll discuss below, but it works out to be more generous for some very long flights when you’re flying the cheapest coach fares.

These exception fares include Delta Vacation packages, which include hotel and airfare bundled in one price, as well as consolidator fares which tend to be focused on very long flights.

Here is the chart:

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 8.32.50 AM

When can this be beneficial?

Most Delta Vacations, ‘bulk’ and consolidator fares are in the very lowest fare classes so you’ll be earning 50% of miles flown, though you might get lucky and find a middle tier coach fare that earns 75% of miles flown.

The biggest losers in the new Delta system are long international flights, which typically cost $1,000 – $1,500 roundtrip and will earn just 5,000 – 6,000 miles when the earning is based on the fare paid.

For these cases, if your flight is longer than 10,000 – 12,000 miles roundtrip, which includes many flights to and from Asia, or from the West Coast to Europe, you’ll earn more miles if you book via Delta Vacations or a consolidator.

That’s because you’ll earn over 5,000 – 6,000 miles, and for long flights to places like Singapore which can be 20,000 flown miles round trip you could almost double your mileage earning versus the new fare based system – earning 10,000 miles on a $1,200 base fare versus 6,000 miles if you bought a standalone ticket from Delta.

The lift is even higher for Medallion members – but beware that these fares do not count toward Medallion qualification, so this is only really a good option for leisure travelers who aren’t in the hunt for Medallion status.

Delta vacation packages are competitively priced and you can look up prices for Delta Vacations packages here.

Unfortunately not all of us can book our hotels via Delta and make our trips part of a vacation package, so for long international flights a consolidator fare might be worth considering.

One major consolidator is, though unfortunately not many Delta fares show up there. But if you have a ultra-long flight in coach and aren’t interested in earning Medallion status it might be worth calling your local travel agent to see if they have any bulk or consolidator fares the next time you book a vacation.


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2 thoughts on How Delta miles for bulk and consolidator fares works

  1. Alan

    I will be moving back to Europe in early 2015. I am considering transferring my Delta miles, I’m currently Platinum, to Air France.
    Any advice? Will I loose lots of miles in the process? Also, do you know anything about the Flying blue points system, upgrades etc?

    I love this website. Bravo


      @Alan – Good question. You can’t move miles from Delta to Air France, so what you have in Delta is stuck there. But the miles never expire so you can use them whenever you’d like, including for flights on Air France or other partners.

      As for Flying Blue…

      If you don’t think you will fly as much as you do now, and won’t hit Flying Blue elite status, would recommend continue earning in your Delta account to take advantage of your Platinum benefits next year like free lounge access. Then, switch to Flying Blue. Unfortunately Flying Blue doesn’t accept matching your status from Delta or other airlines.

      As for using miles, Flying Blue does let you upgrade flights on Air France and KLM from more fares than Delta allows, so that is one upside to earning in Flying Blue. But a downside is Flying Blue tends to pass on more fuel surcharges when you book awards, though if you book Delta flights with Flying Blue you will avoid them.


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