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How to use Delta.com to find award flights with your SkyMiles

by on Thu June 2, 2016 • No Comment
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Knowing how to search for award space is key to being able to maximize the value of your frequent flyer miles.

Granted, airlines don’t make searching for award space the easiest thing to do, but Delta has made a lot of improvements to its website in the last couple of years to make that easier. Here’s your guide to using Delta.com to find award space with your SkyMiles. Also, check out our guide to using SkyMiles for more tips.

Step-by-Step Guide to Searching for Award Space on Delta.com

1. Always search for one-way tickets. They cost half the price of a round-trip, so there is no penalty to booking them, but more importantly searching this way lets you isolate award space more quickly. You can write down flights that work, then search for the return part of your trip separately.

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2 For the sake of this guide, we will be looking at flights from Chicago to Johannesburg in August. We’ll assume that the travel date is somewhat flexible.

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3. Make sure to select that you would like to see prices in Miles, not Dollars.

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4. Search for your initial set of results.

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5. Sort by price to see the lowest price options listed first — it makes a huge difference!

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6. To compare prices on other dates, select ‘Flexible Dates’ in the modify search box.

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7. From the flexible date box, select ‘5 Weeks’ to compare even more prices.

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8. You can now view five weeks worth of pricing on that route for flights in Economy.

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9. For flights in business class, choose Delta One/First/Business from the ‘Show Best Fares For’ drop down menu.

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10. Let’s assume that you are most interested in traveling in business class on August 17th for 80,000 miles one-way. Click on that day on the calendar to get more details about that itinerary.

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11. While it’s not ideal to have a 12 hour layover in London, you decide that it is worth saving 95,000 miles to do so and continue with the booking. All you have to do now is select that flight, login to your Delta account and enter the traveler’s information, and start planning that trip!

Helpful Hints for Searching for Award Space on Delta.com

Airlines that are and aren’t visible on Delta.com

Note that not every Delta partner can be found on Delta.com, but you’ll find most of them.

Airlines you will find are Delta, Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentina, Aeromexico, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Garuda Indonesia, Great Lakes Airlines, GOL, Hawaiian Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Vietnam, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.

There are some Delta partners that you won’t be able to search for on Delta.com. Here are airlines that you won’t see, and also where to search for them.

Airline

Where to Search

Air Europa

flyingblue.com, expertflyer.com

Czech Airlines

flyingblue.com, expertflyer.com

Kenya Airways

flyingblue.com, expertflyer.com

TAROM

flyingblue.com

Xiamen Airlines

expertflyer.com

In order to book a ticket on one of the airlines that does not show up in search results on Delta.com, you will need to call Delta at 800-323-2323 or the number on the back of your SkyMiles card.

Site Limitations

Delta.com is not a perfectly built site, and the award search engine is not perfect either. You will likely run into problems where a search just doesn’t seem to work. When this happens, double check that you are following all of the steps listed above and move on down the the Advice section to try to troubleshoot the problem.

One specific thing to make sure you’re looking out for when a search does work is the default sorting order for the results. Delta’s default search is by “Best Match” – whatever that means. As a general rule, you’ll want to search by price. This is shown in steps 4 and 5 above.

Restrictions

Each airline has rules for what is and isn’t allowed for both paid and award tickets, and Delta is no different. Here are a few of the most important restrictions related to award tickets that you need to know.

  • Delta doesn’t allow stopovers on one way or round trip award tickets

  • You can only connect in certain zones.

    • When traveling to Africa, can only connect in Europe

    • When traveling to India, can connect in Europe or Asia

    • When traveling to Australia, can connect in Asia

    • When traveling to Asia, must travel via the Pacific to get the lowest price, can travel via Europe but will pay more

For all of the details, check out our guide to using Delta miles.

General Advice: Search One Way and Segment-by-Segment

The easiest way to search for flights is to break your trip up into segments. At the very least, you want to search one-ways only, like we did above. Following that search above, assuming we needed a return ticket, we would have completed another search from JNB – ORD on our desired return date.

If you have a really complicated itinerary or would like a very specific routing, it is advantageous to break down your trip even further and search segment by segment. For the flights above, assuming we wanted to travel via London, we would have searched Chicago to London, and then another search for London to Johannesburg. Note that when you are searching this way, the price shown doesn’t really matter. The final price will be based on your origin and destination, not on the price of each flight added together.

How to know you’re getting a good price

Making sure you’re paying a reasonable price is important, especially if you don’t have a ton of miles to burn.

Delta doesn’t publish their award chart anymore, but based on their last known award chart and changes that have been made since then these are the approximate lowest prices you can expect to find for awards from the Continental US, Alaska, and Canada.

From Continental US, Alaska, Canada

Economy

Business

Within the Continental US, Alaska, Canada

12,500

25,000

To Hawaii

22,500

40,000

To Caribbean

17,500

30,000

To Mexico

17,500

30,000

To Central America

17,500

30,000

To Northern South America

22,500

40,000

To Southern South America

30,000

75,000

To Europe

30,000

62,500

To Africa

40,000

80,000

To South Africa

40,000

95,000

To Middle East

35,000

70,000

To South Asian Subcontinent

40,000

70,000

To North Asia

35,000

80,000

To Southeast Asia

40,000

70,000

To Southwest Pacific

45,000

95,000

As you can see, our example was able to find a flight from the US to South Africa in business class for 80,000 miles. This is actually lower than the lowest price we should expect to see (Delta is raising the ‘lowest’ expected price for South Africa flights in business class later this year to 95,000 miles) and definitely makes sense to book.

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