Free First Class Next Month: Using delta.com to Redeem Delta Miles

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This is the twenty-third post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Using Qantas.com to Redeem American Airlines Miles.

Delta.com is a frustrating, broken piece of junk, but it’s the first place to start when looking for award reservations with your Delta SkyMiles on flights operated by Delta, Air France, KLM, Virgin Australia, Alitalia, or Korean.

On the Delta.com home page, type your departure and arrival airports into the flight search box. I always search oneway on Delta.com searches because it is so bad at pricing awards that I don’t want to give it the chance to try adding the outbound and return’s cost.

Make sure to check the boxes that says Book award travel and My dates are flexible.

Because we checked that our dates are flexible, we’ll come to a color-coded calendar that shows which of the three miles prices each day has. We are only interested in green low-priced flights.

To toggle to business availability, click First/Business on the Calendar.

All January 2014 business class seats are at the High Price (in miles) also

Delta’s availability on its own flights is putrid. You’ll see a lot of yellow and blue days. We want the green days to get the most value for our miles.

Select a day with low level priced mile tickets, and you’ll be shown the possible itineraries, ordered from shortest to longest duration.

Click Show Details for more info on the flight.

Once you are looking at a single day’s options, the lowest priced itinerary should have a yellow coloring in the price box. To ensure you are looking at a low-miles-price itinerary, consult the SkyMiles award chart.

Double whatever the chart says in the appropriate column since Delta charges the roundtrip price for oneways. The low roundtrip economy class price from the USA to Israel is 80k miles, so the above itinerary is the low miles price.

If you’ve found low-miles-price space, note the date, time, and flight number, then do a search for the return leg.

If you don’t like what you’re seeing on a day, you can always get back to the award calendar by clicking View Award Calendar on the left. And once there, you can toggle the cabin choice.

Once you’ve found each suitable segment of your itinerary through oneway searches, you can piece together those flights on a roundtrip or multicity search and purchase online.

Unfortunately using delta.com often does not go according to plan. Delta.com is a piece of junk that misdisplays how many miles are needed for certain trips, doesn’t show all partner options, and generally doesn’t work well. When you’re having trouble, you can call Delta at 800-323-2323 to search availability or make a booking.

I use delta.com to search Delta, Virgin Australia, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, and Korean space. Korean space isn’t searchable anywhere else. Virgin Australia space isn’t convenient to search elsewhere. Air France and KLM have stopped releasing all their space to Delta, so delta.com is the only place to figure out what space Delta has.

One huge annoyance about searching Korean and Virgin Australia space is that the calendar view doesn’t factor it in, so you have to search day-by-day.

Example: There is space on June 7 from LAX to Sydney at the Low Price. (Yes, Delta charges 100k roundtrip for this route in economy. US Airways charges 110k roundtrip for this route in business, with a stop in Asia if you want.) But the Delta flight is at the medium price of 140k roundtrip.

As you can see, the calendar only takes the Delta space into account, listing June 7 as a Medium Price day.

So if you want to book on Korean or Virgin Australia, ignore the calendar and search day-by-day.

You have to know about delta.com, and occasionally you have to use it. But I also do a lot of my award searches on Expert Flyer when I want to use my Delta miles. More on that tomorrow.

Continue to Using Expert Flyer to Redeem Delta Miles.

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