Just after writing that there are five good reasons to fly Delta over other US airlines, along comes the elimination of one reason not to focus on Delta’s Skymiles program.
Their award search calendar has been very, very broken — it showed only availability on Delta flights, and only whether there were seats at the high, medium, and low level… often not corresponding at all with actual availability even on Delta’s aircraft. (It might well show a ‘high’ availability only day, even though there was low saver award space on a partner that was bookable on the website.. but you had to click through to see it.)
Delta took one step towards transparency last week telling you that you’d have to call up reservations if you wanted to book a stopover on an international award ticket. Delta’s website now charges more for stopovers. That’s because they changed over the online pricing early, in advance of next year’s program where we can anticipate no free stopovers will be allowed and they don’t intend to change it back.
Now they’ve made an even bigger, more important change. They’ve improved the award calendar.
- The award calendar now includes availability on some partners.
- It seems to actually work
When you select that your dates are flexible you get two calendar views to choose from:
There’s a 5 week calendar where you see one direction at a time (choose your outbound from 5 weeks of availability, then your return) and there’s a ‘flexible days’ option that shows a grid of availability several days before and after your preferred date, for both outbound and return on one screen. Very cool.
Here’s a 5 week search for Los Angeles – Sydney in business class (and note yo can select parameters that limit the search to non-stops only, so that you wouldn’t see Brisbane or Melbourne connections). The 160,000 roundtrip price means Virgin Autralia saver seats are available. (The award calendar is improved, not award availability on Delta flights…)
And here’s flexible search for the same route, showing both outbound and return options.
It searches New York JFK – Milan and finds Alitalia business class award space (125,000 miles roundtrip) just fine.
There’s one thing about the award search box that I find curious and troublesome.
See that ‘all partners’ description? It isn’t accurate.
I was hopeful for a moment that Delta had rolled out functionality to book all of its partners online, like Air Tahiti Nui, China Eastern, and Kenya Airways.
Sadly that does not appear to be the case (and I wish the website would tell you that because it is not at all unreasonable for a member to type in where they are starting and where they want to go and assume that the website will give them all of their options…
But one battle at a time, I suppose, today we celebrate a real improvement!
(HT: Dan’s Deals)
- You can join the 40,000+ people who see these deals and analysis every day — sign up to receive posts by email (just one e-mail per day) or subscribe to the RSS feed. It’s free. You can also follow me on Twitter for the latest deals. Don’t miss out!