God Save the Points shares with me that Delta SkyMiles is offering fantastic premium cabin award availability between the US and London.
That’s not surprising, but it is noteworthy.
- Business travel to London is expected to be down with the uncertainties of Brexit
- US-Europe travel has been weaker with economic uncertainty and terrorism fears
- At the same time fares are falling, Delta is increasing the price of these saver awards from 62,500 to 70,000 miles each way so they should be buying you more inventory.
It is ironic that Delta devalued their secret award chart without notice considering that the program is moving to be more revenue-based not just on accrual and elite status qualifying but also on the redemption side. That should suggest falling award prices not rising award prices in a weak revenue environment. But tails they win, heads we lose.
Nonetheless, with the strong expectation of unsold seats, Delta’s revenue management is making plenty of seats available as awards.
Here are searches for 4 passengers non-stop in business class on Delta flights (one caveat is that Delta-only searches do not always limit you to Delta flights, and I haven’t verified that these are all Delta versus the occasional Virgin Atlantic-operated flight, which many would prefer in any case).
New York JFK – London Heathrow in late winter:
But there’s availability for summer, too. For instance here’s New York JFK – London Heathrow at the end of schedule:
It’s worth noting that availability doesn’t only get good after January 1 when the price goes up, either. Here’s what the availability calendar for four looks like on the New York – London route before the increase:
Delta has frequently had good London availability out of its New York JFK hub. But what about the other hubs? Even their fortress in Atlanta, where you have an incredibly concentrated base of frequent flyers clamoring for award seats and little competition with other programs, you’re seeing 4 business class seats. Here’s Atlanta – London Heathrow:
Detroit – London looks similarly good:
Their other legacy Northwest Airlines hub, Minneapolis, has great availability to London:
At Northwest they used to say of the Upper Midwest ‘it’s good, it’s dark and no one wants to go there… but it’s all our!’ You’d think they wouldn’t need to offer much award availability because of their concentrated strength. But to London right now it’s easy.
I previously wrote about great award availability on Virgin Atlantic once they take over Seattle – London from Delta (Delta owns 49% of Virgin). Delta’s got great availability prior to the handover as well:
If there’s one city it’s tough to get award space out of with Delta, it’s Salt Lake City. There’s little competition up there. They have tons of frequent flyers. And there aren’t many international flights. But Salt Lake City – London is an exception, albeit with less generous space than the other hubs.
Non-hub flying offers space too, here’s Boston – London:
Delta is doing a lot more flying to London than even they realize it seems, since their website says they fly to only 5 cities from the UK.
I bet not too many people realize Delta flies Philadelphia – London with a Boeing 757. That’s the toughest flight to get 4 business class awards on, but those awards do exist.
The only route where there’s almost no business class availability for four or more passengers is their new seasonal Portland – London Heathrow non-stop which launches in late May.
This is much better availability than we’ve been seeing from American Airlines, and though Delta charges 140,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Europe for January 1 travel onward as long as you’re booking a roundtrip originating in the US you aren’t going to pay fuel surcharges on your trip (Delta does add scam charges to European departures, so don’t book these trips as one ways).
This contrasts with American Airlines charging 115,000 miles roundtrip, but rarely making seats available on their own flights and adding fuel surcharges to awards on their primary transatlantic partner British Airways.