tl;dr – there’s a ton of Delta award space but our community’s bias against Delta is probably preventing us from realizing that. All searches were for FOUR people ONE way.
Whenever I’m poking around the blogosphere, there’s one airline that consistently gets hated on: Delta. Now I definitely agree they don’t make the most customer friendly moves – hiding award charts, hidden devaluations, etc. Still, they get way more flak than I think they deserve, and only get positive press every once in awhile when there is an award fare sale (BTW that sale extends to some business class fares as well if you’re interested).
Well, I was looking into a long weekend in Europe for my wife and myself this fall, and guess who consistently had the best award space? Delta Delta Delta. I don’t see AA or UA releasing that kind of space.
But before we get to the fall, let’s take a look at this summer. I wrote a few months ago about how Delta had a ton of award space to Europe for Summer 2016 that we used to book tickets to London. Over the past couple of weeks, I decided to take a look and see what’s changed since then, so I did a search for four seats (that’s right, four, for those families out there!) to see what turned up.
Here’s Boston to London in July in coach – it looks as good as it did when I checked in August 2015:
Economy award space for four BOS-LHR
Hmm. Well, that’s probably a fluke because it’s coach, what about in business class?
That’s FOUR seats. Four saver award seats per flight – both economy and business. Now some of those business class days are on Virgin Atlantic, but still. People love writing WIDE OPEN in their headlines – those two screen shots are wide open if you ask me. This is no fluke, take a look at the calendar for October:
These screenshots are getting boring, so you’ll have to trust me: the return award space is just as good. Okay fine, one screenshot:
How about Detroit to London in coach for four in July?
Return in business?
Let’s try JFK-CDG:
How about JFK-CDG in the fall?
OK, so that one isn’t as good, but remember I’m searching for four people.
So I did one final test, LAX-LHR. If there was saver level space in business class I was going to be truly amazed. Unfortunately, Delta’s generous award space had finally met its mark:
Still, the award space is decent in coach:
And remember, if you really want to go in business, you can always find your way to one of those East Coast cities and go from there. Routes worth looking are anything from Boston, anything TO Amsterdam/London – I found good space on most of those routes through the end of the schedule (minus the obvious stuff like Christmas).
Why this matters
OK, so I have my hand fulls at home so don’t have the time to screenshot for days. But this award space is a big deal if you ask me. It means that the demise of Delta awards has been majorly overstated in the blogosphere. I cannot remember finding that much award space on either UA or AA. And remember, UA already devalued and AA is about to devalue – so it’s not like Delta’s prices are that expensive relatively anymore. People keep calling them Skypesos – but I just don’t see it. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!
Also, the ability to find four award seats is clutch for families. And Delta mile earning isn’t going to be affected by the Chase 5/24 crackdown.
Even if you don’t have Delta miles, there are other ways to book this space. One idea that I saw the other day on View from the Wing was using 80,000 Korean Air miles to fly roundtrip in business class. The fuel surcharges and fees are not a joke: I called and it was ~$1000 in business class (just look for “YR” when using ITA Matrix), but its an option. You could think of it as buying a $1000 coach ticket and using 80,000 miles to upgrade to business (it’s not for everyone). Heck, even Alaska still pairs with Delta sort of still! All of that saver award space (30K coach 62.5K business each way) should be bookable with partners.
People keep hating on Delta, but I just don’t get it. I don’t care how customer unfriendly you are – if you open up award space for my family to take a trip to Europe in the middle of the summer, I’m going to forgive a lot of your missteps. So next time you’re looking to go to Europe – poke around on the Delta website. You won’t believe what happens next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!