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Wednesday, I wrote about a Delta award I want to book to enjoy a cheap one way trip. I want to price LAX to Sao Paulo roundtrip with a prior oneway from Seoul to LAX, all in business class, all on direct Korean Air flights for 130k SkyMiles.

Delta wants to charge 220k miles.

I’ve been tinkering some more. What have I found?

One commenter suggested that maybe the problem was that my open jaw was my outbound’s origin not matching my departure’s return, so I should test out the open jaw in the middle.

Oh, and one more advice, if you decide to pursue this further: does not like open-jaws at departure. So try your open-jaw at the turnaround point.

Having the open jaw in the middle on this award would take out almost all the value for a US-based flyer, but I still wanted to test whether that would cause the award to price at 130k miles.

So I flipped the award. Instead of starting in Seoul, I had it start in Sao Paulo. It still contained a roundtrip between Los Angeles and Sao Paulo and a one way between Los Angeles and Seoul, but their directions were flipped from my previous attempt.

The computer still priced the itinerary at 220k miles.

Reverse the flights and Delta still wants 220k miles

Well, I thought, what if I remove the stop in Los Angeles? That should have no effect, since the computer allows a stopover and open jaw per award, but I tried it for completeness.

Removing the stopover in Los Angeles had a big–and negative–effect. Somehow wants 260k miles for Sao Paulo to Seoul, returning Los Angeles to Sao Paulo.

Remove the stopover and pay 40k extra miles seems to treat the stopover-free award as two separate one way awards, and since Delta charges the roundtrip price on one way awards, this attempt requires paying for two roundtrip awards.

At this point, it’s anybody’s guess how the award pricing monster is programmed. Knowing would help us all get more value out of our SkyMiles, but I’m as far from understanding exactly how the search engine works as I was last week.

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