Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from April 2015 can be found here.

This is the twenty-sixth post in a monthlong series. 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.

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, Alaska, or Air France.

On the Delta.com home page, type your departure and arrival airports into the From and To airport boxes. As you do that, a larger box will pop out with all the itinerary options.

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 box that says Book SkyMiles Award Ticket. Right below that check box, click on More Booking Options and check My Dates are Flexible.

New York to Tel Aviv. Note only two options in the Cabin dropdown. Delta only flies two cabin planes, and SkyMiles can’t be used for three-cabin first.

If you do all that and click Find Flights, you’ll be taken to a screen that shows a calendar of outbound options and a calendar of return options. Since this is Delta, and its availability is horrible, you may find the calendar mostly yellow and blue corresponding to medium and high priced tickets in miles.

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

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 business class price from the USA to Israel is 120k 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.

Mostly with delta.com, things do 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 to search availability or make a booking. The number is 800-323-2323.

Before doing that, I’ll go to Air France’s site and expertflyer.com (paid service.) I’ll talk more about those later in the series.

You have to know about delta.com, and occasionally you have to use it. Be aware of how it works, and what to do when it doesn’t work. And please focus on earning more valuable miles than SkyMiles.

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