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2 places to earn Delta miles & avoid American miles for value

by on Fri September 5, 2014 • No Comment


American AAdvantage miles get a lot of love from enthusiasts who make collecting miles and points their passion.

And for many years, they were a reliable bet. Easier to use for big value trips, and lower prices overall.

These same enthusiasts have universally loathed Delta SkyMiles at their peril. but that’s coming into question now. Especially if you’re traveling internationally, as AAdvantage miles have become harder to use over the last year or so.

If these two regions are in your award travel plans, you need to seriously consider racking up SkyMiles with priority over American AAdvantage miles:

1. Europe

AAdvantage will show you plenty of award seats to Europe at the lowest ‘MileSAAver’ levels of 40-60,000 miles roundtrip in coach. But there’s a very big catch.

The majority of them (or vast majority in our checks) involve flying British Airways across the Atlantic.

And that means a minimum of $700 in fees for a roundtrip flight in Economy Class, and over $1,000 in Business or First Class.

Delta doesn’t pass on those fees.

It charges 60,000 miles roundtrip for Economy and 125,000 miles for Business Class to Europe.

And it’s now partners with Virgin Atlantic, which offers a lot more availability to London than Delta alone used to, all without the surcharges of British Airways flights.

As a result, availability to Europe in general is looking good with SkyMiles when you compare it to the paltry dates American has that don’t involve flying British Airways across the Atlantic.

Even on Delta’s own flights there are more seats open at lower prices than in past years.

Delta got the message and is now ready to compete.

If you’re interested in flying to Italy, there is hands down no better choice than Delta SkyMiles thanks to partner Alitalia which has excellent availability in both Business Class and Economy.

And if you want to fly Delta partner Air France, it’s still tough, but if you book between 330 and 305 days in advance you’ll have good luck finding seats, as that’s a period when Delta fliers have access to award seats ahead of Air France’s own fliers.

You can read our tips on finding Delta award seats here.

At this point we can’t recommend American miles for Europe travel unless you are incredibly flexible or are willing to pay surcharges.

2. Australia

Delta has long had a quiet advantage here because of its partnership with Virgin Australia with flights from Los Angeles to Australia.

If you’re flying coach, American is still the winner.

American has decent availability with its partner Qantas at a great price – just 75,000 miles roundtrip, and you’re best off sticking with them. Delta charges a minimum of 100,000 miles roundtrip in Economy class to Australia.

But if you’re flying Business Class, there is still no more convenient way to get there at a reasonable price than with SkyMiles.

That’s because Virgin Australia does a good job of releasing award seats on its flights, especially its Los Angeles to Brisbane flight, which will connect you to bigger cities like Sydney or Melbourne.

Available Business and First Class seats using American miles are slim and none most days unless you manage to snag seats right at the 331 day window.

There are a couple of great offers on Delta SkyMiles American Express cards about to end, so now is a great time to take advantage of them if you’re headed to Europe or Australia.

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