Delta miles are the worst. I would rather have United, US Airways, American, and in most cases British Airways Avios. But that doesn’t mean Delta miles are useless. When a good use pops up, I like to spotlight it, so that people with a stash of Delta miles can see the valuable possibilities. See:

Another such good use is to fly Delta’s new daily service from Los Angeles to Cancun roundtrip for only 35,000 SkyMiles + $72 in taxes or fly it in business class for 60,000 SkyMiles + $72.

Image from gcmap.com

How can you book yourself a trip to Cancun? What’s the award space picture?

Delta just announced that its once-weekly LAX to Cancun flights will become once daily starting December 19, 2013. Delta charges a pretty standard 35,000 miles roundtrip from the US to Mexico in economy and 60,000 in business class if you can find low-miles-price award space.

Normally that’s the catch with Delta: low-miles-price award space is tough to find. But in this case, space is fairly open for next February, which is a great time to visit Cancun before the Spring Breakers.

Green = low-miles-price space. LAX-CUN in economy on left. CUN-LAX in economy on right. February 2014.
Green = low-miles-price space. LAX-CUN in business on left. CUN-LAX in business on right. February 2014.

Selecting the space is a breeze and reveals the flight times for the direct flights.

Roundtrip in business class is 60k miles + $72 in taxes.

For LA-based folks, I think these flight times are ideal to maximize time in Cancun. You arrive after check-in time, and you leave after spending a last afternoon at the beach and in time to get a full night sleep.

It’s similarly easy to select two economy flights, which price at 35,000 miles and the same $72 in taxes.

Roundtrip in economy class is 35k miles + $72 in taxes.

You could also select one way in economy and one way in business class for 47,500 Delta miles without issue.

Good Deal?

I asserted that these awards are a good deal, and they certainly are by the low standards of Delta miles. Similar dates would cost $532 in economy on the Delta flights or on direct United flights.

LAX to Cancun is 4,238 miles flown roundtrip, so I plugged 532, 72, 35000, and 4238 into the MileValue Mile Value Calculator, and the economy award is getting 1.17 cents in value per mile, which is right around the 1.22 cents that I value a SkyMiles at.

How much the business class award is worth depends heavily on how much you value flying business class. This route is served by a domestically-configured plane, so business class means a slightly larger recliner with about 7″ extra leg room, plus priority boarding, lounge access, and free checked bags.

Use your own subjective valuation for flying the route in business class at the MileValue Mile Value Calculator page to figure out the cents per mile that a business class redemption would earn you.

Non-Angelinos

For those who don’t live in Los Angeles, the new daily route can still be helpful, but you will need to overnight in LA on the return.

For instance, it’s easy to conveniently connect from San Francisco on the outbound, and Delta has great award availability from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The issue is that the return from Cancun arrives in Los Angeles at 10:17 PM at which time you need to clear customs, and there is no way to catch a flight continuing home.

Those who see an overnight in Los Angeles as a plus may not mind the itinerary though. You can layover for up to 24 hours without the layover counting as a stopover. Or you can hang out a few days, since all Delta roundtrip awards allow one stopover. Connecting from San Francisco or elsewhere does not increase the miles needed and only increases taxes by $5.

Getting the Miles

The public offer for the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is 30k miles. Many people have reported success getting offered 50% more miles, 45k bonus miles, through an offer exclusive to CARDMATCH from creditcards.com. Find out if you qualify here. That offer is:

  • 45,000 bonus Delta miles after $5k in purchases in the first three months
  • 1 SkyMile per dollar on all spending
  • 2 SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • Free checked bag for you and up to eight companions on Delta flights
  • Zone 1 Boarding
  • 20% off onboard purchases
  • No annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter

See if you qualify: CARDMATCH

Recap

Delta will now fly between Los Angeles and Cancun daily starting in mid-December. Award space in excellent in economy and business class, at least for Delta. You can get the miles you need for the trip from only one credit card if you qualify for the 45,000 mile SkyMiles card offer from CARDMATCH.

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