The Delta SkyMiles program has a lot of drawbacks. One of the most annoying is that it charges fuel surcharges on award redemptions on several of its partners. For this post, I’ve compiled a list of SkyMiles partners that fly to the US, and I’ve priced out a roundtrip award from the US to their hubs in either economy or business class.
Delta miles can’t be used for three-cabin first class redemptions. Awards cost the roundtrip price whether you fly oneway or roundtrip.
I’ve noted which awards incur surcharges and how much those surcharges are. Hopefully you can use this list to guide your redemptions away from surcharging partners to save yourself hundreds of dollars. Tahsir and I use this information to save our award-booking clients cash.
I’ve also noted whether the award is bookable online or whether you have to call in. If you do call in, see my post on avoiding phone ticketing fees on awards.
KLM: no surcharges
Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS) roundtrip economy
60k miles + $58.50 taxes bookable online
Air France: no surcharge
New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) roundtrip business
100k miles + $131.60 taxes bookable online
Notes: Departure taxes are incredibly high from France and Germany. Not quite as bad the UK, but not much better.
Alitalia: no surcharges
New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) roundtrip business
100k miles + $43.10 in taxes + $25 phone fee
Aeroflot: ~$240 surcharges
New York (JFK) to Moscow (SVO) roundtrip business
100k miles + $259.40 taxes and surcharges +$25 phone fee
Notes: Aeroflot has incredible availability; it’s a secret weapon to Europe with SkyMiles.
Air Europa: ~$500 surcharges
New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) roundtrip economy
60k miles + $547.80 taxes and surcharges + $25 phone fee
Notes: Awful airline, awful surcharges. Avoid.
Aerolineas Argentinas: no surcharges
Miami (MIA) to Buenos Aires (EZE) roundtrip economy
60k miles + $73.15 taxes + $25 phone fee
Notes: Good luck getting to Miami with SkyMiles. Hopefully as Aerolineas Argentinas integrates into SkyTeam, this flight will be moved to Atlanta.
Aeromexico: no surcharges
New York (JFK) to Mexico City (MEX) roundtrip economy
35k miles + $70.76 taxes + $25 phone fee
Notes: Secret weapon to South America, connecting in Mexico City, with SkyMiles.
Korean: no surcharges
Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN) roundtrip economy
70k miles + $47.50 taxes bookable online
China Airlines: ~$250 in surcharges
Los Angeles to Taipei to San Francisco open jaw economy
70k miles + $280 taxes and surcharges + $25 phone fee
China Southern: ~$330 surcharges
Los Angeles (LAX) to Guangzhou (CAN) roundtrip business
120k miles + $362.60 taxes and surcharges + $25 phone fee
Notes: A380s with fully flat business class beds serve this route, and there are usually multiple award seats daily. This is the easiest way to get to Asia with SkyMiles.
China Eastern: ~$360 in surcharges
New York (JFK) to Shanghai (PVG) roundtrip business
120k miles + $392.40 taxes and surcharges + $25
Virgin Australia: no surcharges
Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) roundtrip business
150k miles + $129.60 taxes bookable online
Air France: no surcharges
Los Angeles (LAX) to Pape’ete (PPT) roundtrip economy
100k miles + $52.90 taxes bookable online
Notes: Air France reappears on the list to remind you of its LAX-PPT flight. See my article on how to get to Tahiti and French Polynesia with SkyMiles.
Air Tahiti Nui: ~$440 surcharges
Los Angeles (LAX) to Pape’ete (PPT) roundtrip business
150k miles + $492.90 taxes and surcharges + $25 phone fee
Notes: American will let you book the same Air Tahiti Nui space without surcharges. See my article on getting to Tahiti with AA miles.
Note that for some partners, flying in economy incurs a smaller surcharge than in business.
Note that Delta doesn’t charge surcharges on any awards on Delta metal.
Best Options with SkyMiles
There are four surcharge-free options to Europe: Delta, KLM, Air France, and Alitalia.
There are two surcharge-free options to Asia: Delta and Korean.
There are three surcharge-free options to the Americas: Delta, Aeromexico, and Aerolineas Argentinas.
There are two surcharge-free options to Australia: Delta and Virgin Australia.
Delta has pretty awful availability to all those places except on its New York to London route. Virgin Australia, Korean, and the European partners have pretty good availability among surcharge-free airlines.
Delta charges fuel surcharges on many of its partners that service the US. Those surcharges range can reach as high as $500 per person, so you want to know which airlines to avoid if you are looking to stretch your miles without stretching your budget.
There are SkyMiles options to every continent with zero surcharges; you just have to know which partners to use and which to avoid.