I use three steps to get to my European destination with Delta SkyMiles. For each direction:
- Find transatlantic space.
- Find domestic space within the US on Delta or Alaska from my home airport to the international gateway.
- Find intra-European space to my destination.
Those steps are roughly in order of difficulty–though many times finding domestic space on Delta is impossible at the low-miles price. In those cases, I have to buy a positioning flight or look on different dates.
A few months ago I decided to make a list of SkyTeam flights to Europe, so that I could more systematically search for awards to Europe for my clients with SkyMiles (or AMEX Membership Rewards or Flying Blue points.) Having a list to refer to made my Award Booking Service run much more smoothly.
This is not every SkyTeam flight to Europe, but it is every Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Aeroflot, and Air Europa flight between the US/Canada and Europe. Plus every Delta flight to London and Paris and from JFK to Europe. (Correct me where I’m wrong please.)
CDG (Paris) to ATL, BOS, ORD, DTW, IAH, LAX, MIA, JFK, SFO, IAD, YUL, YYZ
FCO (Rome) to BOS, ORD, LAX, MIA, JFK, EWR, YYZ
MXP (Milan) to JFK, MIA
AMS (Amsterdam) to ATL, DFW, ORD, IAH, LAX, JFK, SFO, IAD, YYC, YUL, YYZ, YVR
SVO (Moscow) to LAX, MIA, JFK, IAD
MAD (Madrid) to JFK
LHR (London) to ATL, BOS, DTW, MSP, JFK
CDG (Paris) to ATL, CVG, DTW, MSP, JFK, SLC, SEA and seasonally to BOS, ORD, PHL, PIT
JFK (New York) to AMS, BCN, BRU, DUB, FRA, LHR, MAD, MXP, SVO, CDG, VCE and seasonally to ATH, CPH, IST, AGP, PSA, KEF, PRG, SNN, VLC, NCE, ARN
Finding Transatlantic Space
I search Alitalia, KLM, Air France, Air Europa, and Aeroflot space on Expert Flyer. See Free First Class Next Month: Using expertflyer.com.
I search Delta space as a oneway award, just the segment I want. For instance, if I want to fly from San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Paris, I just search SLC-CDG oneway on delta.com.
Unfortunately the calendar doesn’t match up with direct availability. For instance, April 5 has low-level business availability according to the calendar. That must be for an itinerary with a stop because SLC-CDG direct is at the high price of 325k miles.
Low-level Delta space will display as 60k/100k oneway in economy/business because Delta charges the roundtrip price for oneways. If you see that price, note the flight number and time, so you can build your award around it.
All partner space will cost the low-level price.
Finding Domestic Space
I also search delta.com oneway at a time for this. There aren’t really any tricks, and Delta’s award space is pitiful.
The only thing to keep in mind is to check for both economy and first class domestic space on your business class awards. You can add domestic economy class to international business class without increasing the award’s price.
Finding intra-Europe Space
I use expertflyer.com to search for award space intra-Europe. It’s usually readily available.
I have two tips. The first is not to hold out for business class. Intra-Europe business class is economy class with a meal and no one in the middle seat. It’s worth about $15 more than economy class to me, so I’m happy to book an economy class seat to get a better flight time.
The second is not to check the box for a classic Europe award on Expert Flyer for KLM and Air France searches. Delta has access to Classic Award (X), not Classic Europe Award (T) for these airlines.
Putting It Together
Once you’ve found your transatlantic, intra-Europe, and domestic award space, you can put it all together. If you’re lucky and delta.com can find it and price it correctly, you are set.
If delta.com can’t find it or price it correctly, call 800-323-2323 to book. But don’t pay the phone fee. See How to Avoid the Phone Fee on Award Bookings to save $25 per ticket.
Booking awards to Europe with Delta miles can be time consuming, but there is a systematic approach that yields results. First, find the transatlantic space. I’ve included a list of great flights to search on all SkyTeam partners.
Second, find domestic space. Third, find intra-European space. Piece it all together on delta.com or by phone.
Or save yourself the trouble, and contact my Award Booking Service.
For more great posts like this, sign up for the MileValue RSS feed, like the MileValue facebook page, or follow me on Twitter @milevalue. Get your friends involved too, so you can have more companions for your Free First Class Next Month.