Delta has had a well deserved reputation for offering members very little award availability, at least at any reasonable price (the ‘saver’ level). It’s hardly a new phenomenon. A decade ago Delta imposed summer blackouts on Europe partner awards. They literally didn’t allow you to redeem miles on Air France or KLM between June and August.
After constantly disappointing members who couldn’t get awards for the prices the SkyMiles program published, the solution wasn’t to improve award availability it was to stop publishing prices.
Despite eliminating award charts, Delta does have an award chart. There is saver award inventory (all partner awards are saver awards), and the price of awards is fixed when it’s available. Delta just doesn’t publish the chart any longer. They used to refuse to give advance notice when making changes to that chart (going so far as to preposterously claim it was illegal to do so). But as we saw last week now they do not even give notice once they’ve already made changes.
Occasionally though award space at the low saver level on Delta’s flights open wide up. Right now you can use SkyMiles to take the family in business class to Europe for summer travel.
MileCards highlights plenty of saver business class award space on a variety of routes.
In fact, I’ve got a ton of searches for four business class awards on a variety of routes where the calendar is wide open or at a minimum far more generous than usual.
MileCards shows a little more availability than I do because it appears their searches are for Delta and partner airlines, and I’m just looking at availability on Delta. So Amsterdam flights, for instance, may have a few days with availability on KLM as well. Paris flights may have Amsterdam availability. And London might be available on Virgin Atlantic.
Here’s availability Boston – London Heathrow (again, business class 4 passengers, Delta flights only):
And Chicago – London Heathrow:
Say you’ve got a UK trip but want to bypass Heathrow entirely, here’s Atlanta – Manchester UK:
There’s even availability in some amount on routes that Delta has been historically the most stingy. Take New York JFK – Venice, a flight they want to charge a premium for direct service. A couple of years ago I wrote about the route costing 162,500 miles each way every day.
One imagines Brussels awards aren’t in high demand at the moment, but they’re wide open in business class:
And fortunately there’s award availability to bring the family back from Europe as well. Here’s what London – Detroit looks like:
These routes are just a sample. Unfortunately there’s no good space from the West Coast non-stop to Europe. You can perhaps find Delta connecting flights to hook up with some of the Midwest and East Coast – Europe awards, Alaska flights especially from Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, or even buy the domestic segment (although Delta doesn’t through-check bags on separate tickets in most cases so you may want that domestic segment to be on Delta if you’re buying it).
If you’re interesting in summer Europe travel with SkyMiles it would be worth acting fast.