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How to know you’re getting the lowest mileage price with SkyMiles

by on Tue September 15, 2015 • 2 Comments


If you’re a value seeker flexible with your plans, Delta is working hard to make it harder to know exactly when you’re getting a decent deal with your miles.

It completely stopped displaying award price charts to the public, so you can’t look up the lowest possible price for the route you’re taking.

And they’re moving from having 5 fixed possible prices for each flight to infinite possibilities, both higher and lower than the old 5 level price structure.

But for now, Delta doesn’t have unlimited mile price options, and there is a simple workaround to tell if you’re getting the lowest possible mileage price.

When you shop for an award flight on, you’ll see one or two letters just above the mileage price of each flight option. The letters look like ‘O’, ‘R’, ‘N’, ‘ON’, ‘OS’, and more.

All you need to know is this.

  • With one tricky exception –  if the Delta flight you’re looking at has just ONE letter next to it (like ‘O’, ‘R’, or ‘N’), then you’re getting the lowest possible current price for that flight.
  • If it has two letters next to it (like ‘ON,’ or ‘OS’), you’re being upsold to a higher mileage price level, and aren’t getting the lowest possible price.
  • It there’s a PARTNER flight with NO Delta flights, it will always price at the lowest possible price level.
  • If there’s a PARTNER flight mixed in with Delta flights, that’s the tricky exception we’ll point out.

Here’s an example for a typical domestic Delta flight that is the lowest possible price for both the Main Cabin and First Class


(N) next to the Main Cabin is one letter – that means it’s the lowest possible price. And (R) next to First is one letter – also the lowest possible price


And here’s an example that’s NOT the lowest possible price – there are TWO letters next to Main Cabin and Business, which is a giveaway.


Flights on partner airlines besides Delta always display at the lowest possible price – there is for now only one price level for partner flights. So if you see flights that are entirely on a partner like this Alitalia flight you’re good.


But if even one Delta flight is in the mix, you’ll need to check if there is one or two letters next to the Delta flight’s cabin name. If the Delta flight is at one of the higher mileage levels, the whole trip will price higher like this, even though there is only one fare code letter next to the cabin choice.


There’s no easy way to check this other than searching for each flight segment on its own to see which is causing the problems. If you can find separate flight segments at the lowest price level, you can try calling Delta on the phone and asking the agent to use the ‘Flights Window‘ to book the segments individually.


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