Today’s post on tacking free oneways onto your roundtrip Delta awards generated a lot of interest, but I need to clarify a few things that spawned some confusion. If you haven’t read that post, though, do so first. It’s right below this post.

1. The distance between the open jaw cities needs to be less than than the distance of a oneway between your home airport and the roundtrip award’s destination. Let me explain with examples.

The open jaw cities when you’re adding a free oneway are the very first city in your itinerary and the very last. Example:

LAS-DTW <— putative free oneway

DTW-BOS <— outbound of roundtrip award

BOS-DTW <— return of roundtrip award

In this example, the very first city on the award is Las Vegas (LAS), and the very last is Detroit (DTW), so those are the open jaw cities. Even if the putative free oneway was tacked on the end of DTW-BOS roundtrips as DTW-LAS, DTW and LAS would still be the open jaw cities.

Using gcmap.com, we see that LAS and DTW are 1,749 miles apart.

Now we need to compare 1,749 miles to the distance of a oneway between the home airport (DTW) and the roundtrip award’s destination (BOS). The distance between DTW and BOS is 632 miles.

That means that this is an illegal open jaw according to Delta. Delta requires the open jaw cities to be closer together than the home airport and the destination. Unfortunately Vegas is farther from Detroit than Boston is, so this award cannot have a free oneway to or from Las Vegas.

Since it’s an illegal stopover, Delta considers LAS-DTW, DTW-BOS, BOS-DTW as two awards, and prices it at 50,000 miles:

The other big clarification I want to make is which home airports are eligible for free oneways. Any airport that lies along a valid routing from your main destination to your free oneway destination or vice versa is an eligible airport at which to include a stopover. And therefore it’s an eligible home airport from which you can tack on free oneways.

My previous post said that you had to live at a Delta hub, but longtime reader Li, pointed out that I had a free stopover from LAX, which is not a Delta hub.

LAX does have many hub-like qualities for Delta. It has flights to many non-hubs on Delta including Hawaii, which means that it has through traffic on Delta. And that’s the key, you can have a free oneway at any airport which handles Delta through traffic. Your free oneway can go to those destinations for which your home airport is a valid transfer point.

That means you can definitely take advantage of free oneways if you live at Delta hubs here in the US:

  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  • Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • LaGuardia Airport
  • Memphis International Airport
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport

 

But Delta has other non-hubs that handle through traffic, including LAX, Raleigh-Durham (RDU), and Washington-National (DCA). I’m sure it has many more, and here’s how to figure out if your home airport handles through traffic, qualifying it for a free oneway.

First, I would go to the wikipedia page of your home airport to see where Delta and Delta Connection fly to/from. Unless your airport is a hub, your airport almost certainly is not a valid routing between hubs, so you want to note any Delta (Connection) flights from your airport that don’t go to Delta hubs.

For example from Raleigh-Durham, there are several flights on Delta Connection that don’t go to Delta hubs: Baltimore, Hartford, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Orlando, Boston, St. Louis, and seasonally to Cancun.

That means you may be able to get free oneways from Raleigh Durham to these airports as long as RDU is a valid airport to route through on the award you’re considering.

The next step is to figure out whether your home airport can be part of  a valid routing that includes a free oneway. To get an official answer, you’d need to find routing rules and parse. To get a highly accurate and easy-to-find answer go to Delta.com and search for a paid oneway between your main award destination and your stopover destination.

Example: In the previous post, I showed a free oneway from LAX to LAS after a main roundtrip award of LAX-ATL. To see that LAX was part of a valid routing from Atlanta to Las Vegas, I would go to Delta.com and search for a oneway paid flight from ATL to LAS on any date. Next a screen would appear with itineraries I can book. Along the left side is a list of connecting airports on these itineraries. If LAX is on that list, then I can legally route ATL-LAX-LAS, which means I can get a free stopover at LAX, which means I can use a free oneway LAX-LAS.

Here’s the left part of the results screen. As you can see, listed among the acceptable transfer airports is LAX, so we shouldn’t be surprised that I was able to book LAX-ATL with a free oneway tacked on to Las Vegas.

Going back to the Raleigh-Durham example from above, imagine a Raleigh flyer wanted to fly roundtrip to London, then later in the year he wanted to visit a friend in Indianapolis. Can he get a free oneway RDU to IND after a trip to London.

To answer that, first I searched for a paid oneway from LHR to IND to see if RDU would be listed as layover airport. It was not. Knowing that LHR to RDU would probably route through Atlanta on Delta, I searched a paid oneway from ATL to IND.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, RDU is a valid layover airport between Atlanta and Indianapolis, so that made me think that maybe I could get a free oneway from Raleigh to Indianapolis after a Raleigh to London roundtrip.

Indeed, Delta.com will allow a free oneway from Raleigh to Indianapolis after a Raleigh to London roundtrip:

 

 

As you can see above, RDU-LHR, LHR-RDU, RDU-IND (free oneway) prices at the normal 60,000 miles roundtrip coach price to Europe.

This itinerary routes through Atlanta on the return, and we know from above that ATL-RDU-IND is a valid routing. I wanted to test whether the return had to route through ATL to work, so I did another dummy booking.

As you can see, according to Delta.com JFK-RDU-IND is not listed as a fare you can buy from New York to Indianapolis:

 

 

 

Raleigh-Durham is not listed as part of the valid routings from JFK-IND. Remember that this page is not necessarily an exhaustive listing of valid routings, but it’s a good approximation.

That means maybe if we route LHR-JFK-RDU on the return, we won’t be able to add the free oneway RDU-IND. Take a look:

 

 

 

 

Even routing through JFK, we can get a free oneway from Raleigh to Indianapolis. The award still priced at 60,000 miles.

This leads me to believe that the routing rules from London to Indianapolis on Delta allows routing through Raleigh-Durham even though no such option was listed on Delta.com when I searched for a paid oneway LHR-IND.

I hope this post has clarified two things about free oneways on Delta awards: that the open jaw cities must be nearer each other than the origin and destination cities on your main roundtrip award and that you don’t have to live at a Delta hub to use Delta free oneways. You do have to live near an airport where Delta routes through traffic, though, and I hope you now know how to figure out if your airport handles Delta through traffic.

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