I wrote last week about how, if you’re flexible enough, you can use United miles to get to Oceania in premium cabins. Today I’m going to write about how you can do something similar with Delta miles, though I should remind you that Kenny from Miles4More has already written extensively about the most direct routes to Australia on miles.
Like with United, the key to finding premium cabin award space is taking roundabout routings, namely, through Korea.
Getting to Australia Using Delta Miles
Aside from the highly preferable Virgin Australia option, you can route through Korea to get to Oceania using Delta miles as well – with no fuel surcharges so the prices are good. Now that Delta has vastly improved its award search engine, you can pretty much find flights you want in business class to Australia or New Zealand (as long as you’re willing to route through Korea).
The costs of these flights are 80,000 miles in business class each way plus taxes and fees – the same as United. I had more trouble finding return itineraries than outbounds. There seem to be options with China Southern as well.
Korean Air flies from Seoul to Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland, here are some sample itineraries through ICN (all searches for two people):
You can basically try to get to those three cities in Oceania through ICN on Korean Air from any airport they fly from. They fly to ICN from ATL, ORD, DFW, IAH, LAS, LAX, JFK, SFO, SEA, YYZ, YVR, and IAD. I did quick searches from these airports and found premium cabin space from ORD, LAX, JFK and IAD, but there was economy space from all those other airports. It’s worth searching from all of those airports if you want to fly business to Oceania!
One other thing to note – Delta has some weird blackout rules for Korean Air dates that more or less coincide with Korean Air’s peak travel times. The peak times for 2015 and 2016 can be found here.
It’s worth taking a look at this Flyertalk thread to see people’s different experiences regarding peak times (the short version is it seems like if a flight is during a peak period you can see it on delta.com but cannot book it).If you’re trying to book for those dates, you won’t be able to book on Delta – though you have another option.
Getting to Australia Using Korean Air Miles
You can book any of the Korean Air space that you find on Delta using Korean Air miles (obviously). The upside of this is Korean Air is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, the downside is it levies fuel surcharges. But it can be helpful in a pinch or if you need to fly during peak periods (which are more expensive on Korean though).
The cost to route from North America to Australia on Korean Air is 97,500 miles each way during off peak time AND , so it’s more expensive as well.
While the booking process for partner awards on Korean Air is super cumbersome, to book Korean metal it’s pretty straightforward. The biggest issue is that you can’t search award space on koreanair.com unless you have enough miles to book the award – do not under any circumstances transfer from Ultimate Rewards until you know the space is there. To get around this, search on delta.com (like above) or use Expertflyer (paid subscription).
If you find space, you could transfer miles over from Ultimate Rewards and then book. In my experience, the lag time is around two days (though I’ve seen them go through in as little as one). This makes me a little paranoid – I’m always afraid the space will disappear (though Korean is admittedly generous). If you’re willing to do a little extra work, there’s a way around this.
Call into Korean and tell them you want to book a bonus ticket (their term for award ticket). Feed them your flights and then tell them you need to transfer miles over and want to put them on hold. The last time I did this, they put the flights on hold for a month!
So that’s how long you have to transfer your miles over and book (or make up your mind). As long as all flights are on Korean Air you can just complete your booking online and not deal with the faxing nonsense necessary for partner awards.
Korean Air is pretty generous, I saw two or three business class seats on a bunch of days using delta.com. I think they might open up even more seats to their own members if you’re booking through Korean Air.
Like I said at the top, Virgin Australia is the best way to get to Australia on miles. But if everyone has booked the space thanks to Kenny’s post or if you don’t have Delta/Virgin America miles, there are still other options as long as you’re willing to go the long way around (also be aware some of KE’s business class is still angled so do your research). If you’re using United or Korean Air miles – book a stopover in Korea and hit two continents in one trip! Bottom line – though the quickest way between two points is a line, being willing to go outside the box can yield great results too. Happy booking!