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Ask for the ‘flights window’ to get Delta SkyMiles awards at lower prices

by on Wed September 2, 2015 • 6 Comments
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If you’re trying to fly in Business Class on a long trip to Europe, Asia, or other parts of the world you know the most important thing is getting that long flight over the ocean at the lowest award price possible.

Delta SkyMiles doesn’t make this easy because its website misses opportunities to fly for a lower price if you’re willing to sit in coach for a short segment.

Here’s an example.

You want to fly from Los Angeles to Rome in Business Class.

Delta.com shows an option going LAX-JFK on Delta, and JFK-FCO on Alitalia (‘AZ’ is the abbreviation for Alitalia), all in Business Class.

But it’s pricing at a ridiculous 130,000 miles one way instead of the 62,500 miles that’s typically the lowest price level available.

deltalaxfco

There are three things to pay attention to here:

  1. The most important long flight (JFK-FCO) is on a partner, Alitalia. Partner flights are always available at the lowest level mileage price, which in this case is 62,500 miles, rather than 130,000.
  2. The fact that this is showing at 130,000 miles instead of 62,500 mile means the shorter LAX-JFK flight is sold out at the lowest mileage price in Business Class.
  3. The Main Cabin option being displayed is just 30,000 miles, which is the lowest level price, and that means the LAX-JFK and JFK-FCO flights have Main Cabin seats at the lowest level mileage price.

All of those elements mean you should be able to sit in the Main Cabin for the short LAX-JFK flight and Business Class for the long JFK-FCO flight for the low 62,500 mile price.

Since each flight has an option at the lowest level price (one of them in coach, the other in business) you should be able to pay the lowest level Business Class price of 62,500 miles for the whole thing, and sit in Business Class for the long JFK-FCO flight, and put up with the Main Cabin for the shorter LAX-JFK flight on Delta.

Unfortunately Delta.com doesn’t work that way, and won’t show options that have part of your trip in the Main Cabin and the other part in Business Class.

The good news if you call Delta reservations on the phone, you can book at a much lower price, though most phone agents won’t tell you the lowest possible price upfront.

That’s because Delta agents have two ways to look for award flights.

The default is the ‘Shopping Tool’ which gives results similar to those you see on Delta.com.

The other, more manual option is called the ‘Flights Window.’

The Flights Window lets agents manually choose flights and select the cabin you want to sit in. And by using that option, the agent can request the Main Cabin on one flight and Business Class on another, giving you the lower price.

In this case you can pay just 62,500 miles instead of 130,000 miles.

Here are the very same flights from above at that lower price, thanks to calling in and asking the agent to use the ‘Flights Window’ to search for the award.

deltamixedaward

 

So the next time you’re shopping for a long international flight in Business Class, and you’re willing to sit in coach for the shorter domestic flight, pick up the phone and ask the agent to do a search for specific flights using the Flights Window, and tell them you’re willing to sit in coach on the shorter flight.

The easiest way to find opportunities is to split up your search, starting with the long international segment on its own. In this example going from Los Angeles to Rome you want to check out the New York JFK to Rome segment, and you’ll see it has Business Class for the lowest level 62,500 mile price.

jfkfco

 

Then, you can search for a flight from your starting city (Los Angeles) to meet up with that long international flight out of New York.

Here the Business Class isn’t pricing at the lowest level – for a domestic flight it should be around 25,000 miles or 32,500 miles. Delta doesn’t post its award charts online any more, but you can find the theoretical lowest price using these leaked award charts posted at the Delta Points blog.

And you’ll see the Main Cabin price of 12,500 miles is the lowest level price, which means you can pair it with the JFK-FCO flight and pay the low level Business Class price for the whole thing.

lax-jfk

Then you can call and request an LAX-FCO award from the agent using the ‘Flights Window.’

And if the agent you’re speaking to doesn’t understand that, politely say thanks and try again.

You’ll save tens of thousands of miles.

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6 thoughts on Ask for the ‘flights window’ to get Delta SkyMiles awards at lower prices

  1. Rich T

    Question about combining Delta & partner flights of different classes on a single award. II successfully have booked a Virgin Australia flight via Delta Skymiles in and out of LAX in business class (yeah!) but was told my multiple Delta agents that it was not possible to combine Delta & Partner flights in a single award if they were in different classes. I was willing to fly ATL to LAX in coach, but was told it was not possible. Sounds like your example here is otherwise…. Have you run into Delta inconsistency or confusion in this area?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Rich T – Their standard shopping window won’t let them combine classes – they either need to use the flights window, or ask to be transferred to the international award desk.

      Reply
  2. Nick

    Is it then possible, a la United, to waitlist an upgrade to Delta One/Business on the short haul or call back when space opens?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Nick – Unfortunately no, Delta doesn’t offer waitlists for award space. And officially, it will charge you a change fee to switch classes, even if you’ve paid the mileage already, but in practice you might find a supervisor or agent who could waive the fee. But no guarantees on that.

      Reply

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