Reader Email: So What ARE Delta Skymiles Still Good For?

With the Singapore Airlines redemption option going away, my favorite  feature of the Skymiles program will be no more.  Reader Gene wonders what good options are left, and points out that Delta and Jet Airways  are partners.

My thoughts are as follows:

1. Korean is still a partner.  Don’t trust Delta website inventory, I don’t really see business class availability on the Northwest website anymore, either.  The same thing happened to Air France inventory.  The website is just wrong, business class seats still exist, you just can’t find them by limiting yourself to the online tools that the airline provides.  Now, Korean doesn’t often make more than a single business class seat available at a time.  But it’s a good option.

2. Air France/KLM do make business class seats available stil…

3. Northwest legacy partnerships have been migrated.  The first one that stands out is Malaysian.  They fly, for instance, Los Angeles – Tapei – Kuala Lumpur.  Their business class product is only ‘ok’ but a perfectly good option for getting to Asia.  Too bad Delta doesn’t allow first class redemptions…

4. Another Northwest legacy partner is Air Tahiti Nui.  Delta miles are actually among the best for getting to Tahiti, since they partner with both Air France and Air Tahiti Nui — the only carriers offering service between the US and Tahiti.  And in fact you could presumably contruct an award Los Angeles – Papeete – Auckland as a ‘hidden’ way to use Delta miles for getting to New Zealand.

5. As Gene observed, Delta partners with Jet Airways (and Kingfisher).  Jet for one has a really top notch product, I have no personal experience with Kingfisher’s.  Though at least in the latter’s case I understand award inventory isn’t the easiest to come by, there’s a nice product option for getting to India.

6. Kenya Airways if you fancy Africa… and Vietnam Airlines is joining up.

The frustrating thing is that there’s no central place where you can search availability on most of these partners.  And Skymiles agents are of varying ability in finding partner seats.  So booking isn’t an easy process, necessarily.  But Delta does still have some good partnerships.

Their partners don’t tend to be as generous in award inventory, and they don’t necessarily have as top notch products, as some in Star or oneworld.  But these are likely the best uses of Delta miles that remain.

Other thoughts, suggestions that I’m missing here?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary,

    I personally find redemptions from the CONUS to Alaska on AS offer extremely good redemption value.

  2. You missed one more.

    Delta Award miles allows one open jaw and one stopover. I was able to price

    LAX-CDG-PRG(stopover)-CDG-SEZ(destination)//CPT-AMS-LAX all in Business for

    120,000K each and bookable online on Delta.com

  3. one more to add,

    the only way to make AF cross Atlantic flight to show under award search is using Multi city function.

    and need EP to seach flight inventory on AF and AF site to search KLM, then use Delta to book.

    Every segments must be available for saver award, otherwise, no flight will be showed for CDG-SEZ leg.

  4. One more, for those with a “useless” (read: not enough for international premium class) number of DL miles, skymiles offers hotel redemptions, and I’ve found pretty decent rates. For example, recently saw 28K miles for 2 nights++ in deluxe room (w/ upgrade at checkin) at the Fairmont Royal York….

    just another way to creatively redeem your miles at a decent value… especially if you don’t have enough for a meaningful international premium cabin redemption.

  5. Yes, intra-Asian awards are still generally 20,000 miles, as was the case under Northwest. For example, I have flown PEK to SGN, BKK to PEK for only 20,000 miles. Same from PEK to CGK (Jakarta) for example. And availability is always wide open in Econ and often in Business to ICN and NRT from PEK/PVG.

  6. To Troy (or anyone):

    looking at your itinerary and how you found it partly using AF site, i don’t understand how you were able to book this on delta.com. also, i assume EP= Elite Plus- yes?

    i have searched and read tutorials on finding/booking award flights on Delta, but none have really been all that useful/creative. can anyone point me to a tutorial that breaks down the process Troy used. i’m not Elite Plus, then again, my interests are more in travel between US and Asia, so maybe that wouldn’t be a factor.

    also, thanks to Alex- i had totally forgotten that hotel awards were a possibility too.

  7. To uncommonsensical,

    I made a typo, EP should EF, Expert Flyer, a paid award search tool.

    Also, I wrote a detailed step by step to book that award, click link in comment #8, you will see it.

  8. I’d love to understand why you say that Jet has a top-notch product. That may be true one *some* int’l routes but it sure isn’t true on India-Bangkok or internal routes. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t great either.

  9. Can’t find any low flights to Australia or NZ on Low end. Any tips on how to get something? We would ideally have 4 people going but can’t even find a Low ticket for 1.

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