Hunter says Delta.com has gone off the rails. And he calls the Delta.com helpdesk “We’re a Bunch of Monkeys Chained to Phones.”
Gee, Hunter is just realizing this. And he actually flies Delta. I do my best to avoid it, though in my case it’s because on Delta ful fare trumps status in the upgrade queue and the idiots treat cheap government fares as full fare. I live in DC, where everyone but me is flying on a government fare. But that’s beside the point.
My beef with Delta.com is its award search. Delta occasionally publishes premium cabin international inventory for award booking without paying extortionate double or triple mileage pricing. But its website would never know it. Flights that actually have ‘low’ price awards will still price at the medium or high mileage levels on Delta.com. Don’t believe me, or don’t want to call Delta to verify this? Just check out award inventory on the Northwest website.
Fortunately for Skymiles members, NWA.com is still available online for a short period of time. And you can book some awards there, and at least search for awards there to guide you in calling Skymiles with specific flights you want to redeem for.
I recently coached someone through a redemption with Delta miles. He wanted to fly business class to Singapore. Every single day for months Delta.com priced the itinerary at 370,000 miles per passenger. Now, he wasn’t even trying to get a regular ‘ol 120,000 mile award. he was prepared to pay 240,000 — which the “mileage calendar” said should have been available on most days. But the Dela website would never book it. Northwest, on the other hand, had no problem finding the seats at that price.
There’s also an ongoing thread at Flyertalk on award inventory disappearing when elite members log in. The theory, though I don’t buy it, is elites have more miles in their accounts so they get charged more miles for awards. Personally I think that the Delta IT system is just hopelessly broken. It’s sad, Northwest had a great platforum, but it’s being shelved. And Delta even once had a better (read: actually functional) system than they do now. Conspiracy theories abound that this is intentional on the part of Delta, but I can’t imagine that’s the case.
Still, having searched and searched for premium cabin award availability across the Pacific I can say that they very rarely offer more than one business class seat on any given transpacific flight. Their partner Korean seems to follow the same approach. So for me — valuing transpacific flying as I do — they are just not an option. Most days, most flights, will cost double miles for business class. And their regular pricing will get me first class on a set of proper Asian carriers via several programs I participate in. The Skymiles program is just not attractive to me, and that’s when their IT system actually works.
Which isn’t to say I won’t ever accumulate Skymiles. Last summer they were giving out 10,000 miles for each one-day car rental from Avis or Budget. And they gave me 20,000 miles for getting a hair loss consultation with Bosley. And I’ll even transfer a single point in from Starwood to generate a partner credit towards a mileage bonus.
But — as perhaps the person in the world today booking more award tickets than anybody else — I can say that Delta miles are the least useful of any major North American program, and that their website is next to useless in pricing out international premium cabin awards.