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This might be the hardest summer in recent memory to use miles to get to Europe in Business Class thanks to fuller planes, smaller premium cabins, and increases in award prices. But there are ways to do it, and Delta SkyMiles are a way you might have given up on that you should reconsider.
Delta SkyMiles are universally derided by miles and points enthusiasts, mostly because they’ve led the way on customer unfriendly changes, availability is spotty, and their award calendar search is unreliable, mostly because it doesn’t handle partner flights at all.
So you’ll often see seas of disappointing yellow and blue instead of the coveted green when searching for award seats.
But if you dig a little further you can find some real value and generous availability, including this August for last minute summer travel in Business Class to Europe.
The no-hassle tactics to find better availability are:
– Performing one-way searches (this lowers the chances it displays an artificially high price)
– Clicking beyond the calendar to individual date results (it doesn’t handle partners, but individual date results will show many)
– Clicking the ‘miles per passenger’ sort when you get to individual date results to capture the lowest price
– Searching to and from ‘NYC’ to capture both Newark and JFK options (even if you don’t live in New York)
MileCards.com regularly monitors award trends and New York is the easiest place from which to use Delta miles for Business Class travel across the Atlantic.
You have access to lots of flights from its most generous Transatlantic partners Virgin Atlantic and Alitalia.
And you’re taking advantage of the biggest hub for Delta’s own international flights, with even Newark offering flights to Paris and Amsterdam.
This is the case with United and American as well, but their award searches aren’t as unreliable and using New York as an origin for Delta searches focuses its search engine on where you’re more likely to find success across the Atlantic.
You don’t have to live in New York to take advantage.
Atlanta, Detroit, and Minneapolis fliers are hampered by a lack of Saver level seats on Delta’s own flights up to New York area airports, but that can be remedied by booking Economy for the short flights or just buying them outright. Though West Coast fliers may as well forget about it. Just buy a ticket to New York.
We found options with at least 2 Business Class seats to London, Paris, and Rome from New York on all but a handful of days in August, prime time for vacation travel.
All of it surcharge free at the Saver mile level of 125,000 miles roundtrip, the holy grail of premium summer travel.
The flights that have the most consistent availability include:
– Alitalia’s flights from Chicago and JFK to Rome
– Virgin Atlantic’s flights from Newark, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. to London
– Delta’s own flights from JFK to Brussels and Frankfurt as well as Newark to Paris
Here are some examples:
Do some of them have very long layovers?
That Virgin Atlantic morning flight from Newark to London doesn’t connect to much without spending the night in London.
But why not make that part of the holiday?
You’ll get to spend the day on the ride over hanging out at the onboard bar on your day flight from Newark anyway.
And yes, Newark is a tough place to connect if you’re flying Delta as it’s not a hub.
But you can be creative and find other ways to get there or work New York into your trip.
And good luck finding surcharge free space on American from the East Coast in August. It’s slim and far between right now unless you want to pay $1,000+ in fees on British Airways.
United has options thanks to Lufthansa and others, but you’ll pay 140,000 miles for the privilege of flying Business Class on its partners.
If you don’t have SkyMiles you can still take advantage.
For example any of the Delta Business Class non-stops to Europe can be booked for just 100,000 Virgin Atlantic points round-trip with no fuel surcharges, which is a great deal if you have either Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards available to you since you can transfer them into Virgin Flying Club points.
So if you’re creative with your plans and willing to work a stop in London or New York into your trip, you can still fly in comfort without getting gouged in points or surcharges this summer.
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