Or, consider other cards for 50,000 or more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$750 for air / hotel / car bookings. Or transfer points to United, Southwest, Hyatt, and more.
No annual fee.
Delta has really improved its website for award bookings, and you can now search and book nearly every SkyMiles partner on Delta.com. Just choose ‘show price in miles’ when you search for flights there.
The holdouts are small partners Czech Airlines, TAROM, Xiamen Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, and Hawaiian Airlines. Here’s a full list of the airlines you can book and where to search for space:
|Region||Airline||Where to check award space||Fuel surcharges|
|Europe||Air France||Delta.com||Tickets starting in Europe|
|Europe||Alitalia||Delta.com||Tickets starting in Europe|
|Europe||KLM||Delta.com||Tickets starting in Europe|
|Europe||Virgin Atlantic||Delta.com||Tickets starting in Europe|
|Middle East||Middle East Airlines||Delta.com||Yes|
|Middle East||Saudia Airlines||Delta.com||None|
|North America||Alaska Airlines||Delta.com||None|
|North America||Hawaiian Airlines (within Hawaii only)||HawaiianAir.com||None|
|Pacific||Air Tahiti Nui||ExpertFlyer.com||Yes|
|South America||Aerolineas Argentinas||Delta.com||None|
|South America||GOL Airlines||Delta.com||None|
Delta no longer publishes award price charts, so the price you pay for awards can change at any time. That said, we’ve compiled the typical lowest price for awards here, though for domestic awards you might find even cheaper awards, often as low as 7,500 miles. All the numbers you see in this table are prices for one-way flights to and from the U.S. For a roundtrip, just double the price.
|Mexico / Caribbean||17,500||30,000|
|Northern South America||22,500||40,000|
|Southern South America||30,000||75,000|
|Australia / New Zealand||45,000||95,000|
Delta is notorious for raising award prices without notice, so if you see something you like, book it sooner, rather than later.
Fuel surcharges: Beware that awards which start in Europe can carry substantial fuel surcharges. For example, if you buy a Paris to New York roundtrip award in Business Class you’ll be hit with over $500 in fees and taxes. But if you do a New York to Paris award (starting in the U.S., instead of Europe) you’ll just pay about $100 in taxes on the same flights.
Delta calls this an ‘International Originating Surcharge’ and is figuring if you’re booking an award starting in Europe, you probably live there, and all of the frequent flier programs in Europe impose big fuel surcharges on award tickets. It’s a lousy reason to charge the fees, but one they get away with.
Delta also imposes fuel surcharges on awards starting in the U.S. with Aeroflot, China Eastern, China Southern, and China Airlines. The China surcharges are pretty reasonable, while the Aeroflot surcharges can be over $300.
Mileage discounts. Delta doesn’t have better award space for its elite Medallion members anymore, but it sometimes gives SkyMiles credit card holders and Medallion members early access to mileage price sales, so it’s worth logging into your account when you search.
Good value award space on Delta’s own flights can be hard to find, but its international partners have some opportunities to get good value out of your SkyMiles:
Yes you can, though for flights June 1st and onward the prices are really, really bad. To the point that you’re better off just booking an award ticket without paying cash and miles to upgrade.
Here are sample upgrade prices one way on the lowest coach fares for flights June 1, 2016 onward, when Delta is changing its upgrade prices:
Until June 1st, you can upgrade if you are flying a ‘K’ or higher fare on domestic flights, and ‘M’ or higher for most long haul international flights.
Unfortunately you can’t waitlist for award space if the type you want isn’t available. You’ll have to keep checking and book when you see space open up.
Delta no longer allows stopovers on award tickets, though you can have a connection of up to 24 hours in a city outside the U.S. or in a U.S. city if it’s your connecting point from an international flight.
Here are some of the most important:
Delta doesn’t allow holding award seat reservations without deducting miles.
If you’re short on SkyMiles, you can book Delta flights using miles other than Delta SkyMiles.
Any SkyMiles partner’s miles can access the basic level award seats, which opens up a few options to book Delta flights without using SkyMiles. The catch is most except Alaska MileagePlan will charge you fuel surcharges for flights to Europe.
Economy Class seats come from ‘X’ class, and Business Class seats come from ‘O’ class, while First Class seats come from ‘R’ class.
You can convert your hotel points into SkyMiles miles any time with no charge for the conversion. Every hotel program has a different conversion rate, and to make it easier to understand, we’ve calculated conversion rates needed for a single mile.
Personal: Gold Delta SkyMiles American Express ($95 annual fee – free checked bag), Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express ($195 annual fee – earns Medallion Qualifying Miles), Delta Reserve ($450 annual fee – includes SkyClub access).
All Membership Rewards earning cards and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express earn points you can transfer into Delta SkyMiles any time at 1 point = 1 mile. With Starwood you also get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer, though transfers can take a few days, while Membership Rewards transfers are generally instant.
You have to pay if you want to transfer miles from your account to someone else, and Delta charges $10 for every 1,000 miles you transfer, or 1 cent each. You can transfer a maximum of 150,000 miles out of your account each year, and a recipient can receive a maximum of 300,000 miles per year. Each transfer transaction has to be 30,000 miles or less.
It’s not a terrible deal, but if you can, you’re better off booking an award for someone else from your own account, since you can use your miles to book tickets for anyone you’d like, even if you’re not traveling.
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