Note that this post was almost posted yesterday before news broke that Delta is moving to a revenue-based frequent flyer program–at least on the earning side. This post discusses flying before Delta’s June 1 devaluation to its award chart, but can also be read as a general plea to burn Delta miles before January 1, 2015 when more changes are coming.

Delta’s upcoming June 1 devaluation is a little different than United’s was. Delta’s award prices are increasing for flights flown June 1, 2014 or later no matter when you book them.

To get the current, lower prices on Delta awards, you have to fly your award by May 31, 2014.

Most of Delta’s devaluation is happening to its business class award chart.

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Roundtrip Business Class Prices in Thousands of Delta Miles

So what are the top four Delta awards you need to fly by May 31, 2014?

1. Europe

The roundtrip business class award to Europe–the bread and butter of my Award Booking Service–is going from 100k Delta miles per person to 125k for flights from June 1, 2014.

Luckily May is a great time to visit most of Europe for mild weather and lower crowds compared to the height of summer.

When booking a Delta award to Europe this summer, consider flights operated by these airlines, all searchable on delta.com:

  • Delta
  • Alitalia
  • Air France
  • KLM
  • Virgin Atlantic

I searched for one business class award seat from New York to Madrid this May. Saver space (green) isn’t great, but there is some.

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Like most Delta flights to Europe, the New-York-to-Madrid route has fully flat beds in business class, which is signaled by a bed icon above the award space.

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The roundtrip in May prices out at 100k Delta miles and $57–can’t beat it!

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2. Southern South America

Southern South America on Delta’s award chart includes:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay
  • Chile

The price of a roundtrip in business class is jumping from 100k Delta miles to 125k on June 1.

When constructing Delta awards to South America, consider award space on these airlines:

  • Delta
  • Aeromexico
  • Aerolineas Argentinas

I searched for business class space for one passenger from Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro this May on delta.com, which does not display Aeromexico or Aerolineas Argentinas space. Award space isn’t great, but there is some in the pre-World Cup window.

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This route is also operated by Delta planes with fully flat beds in business class.

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The award prices out at 100k Delta miles and $52 in taxes for a roundtrip that includes 20 hours of flying.

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3. Southeast Asia

Delta’s Southeast Asia region includes:

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Macau (but not Hong Kong or the rest of China)
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia (strangely enough)
  • Myanmar
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Singapore
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Timor Leste
  • Turkmenistan
  • Vietnam

Roundtrips in business class to Southeast Asia are jumping from 120k to 140k miles on June 1. Now is a great time to travel in most of Southeast Asia because it is the dry season. (I’m in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the moment, visiting the stunning Angkor Wat. It is a must-see!)

Delta operates flights to Southeast Asia and has a number of Asian partners including:

  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Korean
  • Vietnam
  • Xiamen

Unfortunately, flights on all three airlines with “China” in their name incur fuel surcharges. And you have to search all three on Expert Flyer.

Korean is probably your best bet for a SkyTeam partner when booking to Southeast Asia. It is searchable on delta.com and its award flights don’t include fuel surcharges.

I searched for one passenger in business class from Seattle to Bangkok in May. Space is awful, but if you are flexible, you can make it work. (Note that Korean space displays on delta.com but doesn’t factor into the calendar.)

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The award prices out at 120k miles and $82 roundtrip.

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4. Africa

SkyTeam has a decent network to Africa between partners Air France and Kenya Airways.

Awards to Delta’s Africa region–all of Africa except South Africa–are jumping from 120k to 140k miles roundtrip in business class on June 1.

Awards to Africa will almost certainly route through Europe, where you can enjoy a free stopover in one direction if you’d like. From Europe, there are a number of interesting routes including an Air France flight from Paris to Mauritius with good award space in May.

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You could book from your home airport to Paris, stopover for as long as you like, continue to Mauritius, stay there as long as you like and return home, all in business class, all for only 120k Delta miles plus government taxes as long as you finish flying by May 31.

Getting the Miles

Delta miles are easy to get. There are Delta co-branded credit cards, which each earn 30,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $1k in the first three months. The annual fee is waived for the first year then $95.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

You can also open Starwood-branded credit cards since 20k Starpoints transfers to 25k Delta miles. The SPG cards each come with 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. There is no annual fee the first year, then $65.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

You can even open cards that earn Membership Rewards, which transfer 1:1 to SkyMiles. I like the Gold cards because of their 3x earning on airfare and numerous 2x categories. They have no annual fee the first year, then $175.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

Terms and limitations apply to all these offers. Please see the offers for full details.

Recap

Delta awards flown by May 31, 2014 will be cheaper than those flown after June 1, 2014 on most routes in business class. (And there are huge changes coming to SkyMiles on January 1, 2015 too.)

Four awards that I highly recommend flying by May 31, 2014 are roundtrip business class awards to Europe, Southern South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa, which are going up 20-25k miles each.


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