Newbie Awards Questions

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by bilspacecadet, Mar 2, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Wasn't sure whether to post here or in Newbies--anyway:

    I'm trying to get three of us to Europe in June (yikes!) from LAX. I've been beating the hell out of the SkyMiles booking tool as well as milewise, and I think I have some decent options.

    Question:

    In general do Skymiles award levels loosen up as the spring turns to summer? Or do they tighten up? Or neither?

    If I am hoping to see some change in the award level availability, should I be checking every day? Every other day? Twice a week? Is there a day or time when availability tends to refresh?

    I can get LAX-ATL-AMS going and STR-ATL-LAX returning for 90k--does that seem about right, or should I keep vigilant for a better deal?

    thanks, everybody, in advance
     
  2. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    3,129
    Likes Received:
    12,385
    Status Points:
    10,620
    The problem is that no one really knows when reduced awards will be made available.

    My suggestion is to take what you can get. The 90K does not sound unreasonable - especially considering that you are looking for travel in June.
     
  3. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Appreciate the input. I suspect that's what I'll do, then pound the wall in anguish when a 75k award is released three weeks before the trip.
     
  4. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Three award tickets on the same flights can be tough. Getting award tickets for fewer miles can require inconvenient routings and overnight connections. If they happen, lower prices in miles are likely to occur very close to the travel dates, when it is difficult to make arrangements for hotels, etc. if you are satisfied with the award tickets that you have found, you should take them when theynare available.
     
  5. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    I don't know when in June you're planning to go, for how long, or how fixed your destinations are. However, I did manage to find this on the FlyingBlue engine on klm.com:

    LAX-CDG-AMS on 3 June for 3 in Y
    CDG-SFO-LAX on 12 June for 3 in Y

    Those will price out at 60K per person round trip with DL miles. You can get a free FlyingBlue account and do a much more useful flexible date search there. I did find it reporting 25K (FB charges 25K each way for Y on US-Europe instead of DL's 30K, but what you see for 25K will be available for 30K through DL) when there was nothing at that level a couple of times, but it's generally pretty reliable. Search one-ways like LAX-AMS and then put together on DL.dumb using multi-city, selecting the exact flights you found on KLM.com. The exception will be if you find flights that aren't DL/AF/KL, as you'll have to call to book those.
     
  6. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Wow. Huge. HUGE!

    This is why I came to you guys.
    I have a flyingblue account, but, honestly, didn't realize why I was suppose to have it. Now I understand.

    That's fairly awesome. However, those aren't the dates--I purposely was vague about the dates because I thought it was sleazy of me to ask other to do the work for me. I know some people have a side business helping people book awards; I didn't want to be rude and presume others would want to help me for free.

    This is where it gets interesting--1. I've always wondered how the flyingblue numbers translated to Delta, now I know. And 2. I didn't realize Delta (and I suppose milewise as well) won't show partners that aren't DL/AF/KLM on the website. Hugely useful. We're trying to get to Italy, and Alitalia is a partner, but, obviously, it wouldn't have shown up.

    Thanks for so much useful info in one post.

    I'll try again, then I might post what I have and see if you think it seems like a decent find.
     
  7. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    June can be tough if your dates are fixed, but it sounds like we've inspired you to investigate a bit, which is good. The (sometimes) lovely thing about DL routing rules over the oceans is that they're based on maximum permitted mileage. This means you can connect in bizarre places, so you might want to try searching by segment on FlyingBlue. For instance, maybe you find a flight to MAD or BCN and then grab a UX (AirEuropa) or AZ flight on to your destination in Italy. FlyingBlue is pretty good about finding unusual routings, but it's not 100% perfect since it tends to use AF/KL's (usually) more restrictive routing rules. I will say that sometimes finding more than two seats on an AZ flight can be tough. It might be that you want to look at being flexible when you get to Europe and letting two people go on the first flight and the third on the next one if it leaves only an hour or two later. Another creative routing thing to do out of LAX is use Alaska. Any of their super saver awards (flexible search on alaskaair.com) can be booked with DL miles, too. LAX-YVR might open up some useful options (or LAX-SFO on DL). LAX-DCA and then switching to IAD to cross the pond would be a pain, and I think you'll find some better options than that, but if you were desperate…
     
  8. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Wow--you just blew my mind. Had no idea it was going to get so complex, so quickly. I worked a bit on flying blue; I feel like I was finding awards both higher and lower than what I was finding on DL.com and milewise. And I've googled a bit but there doesn't seem to be a clear translation between AF's 31500/50000/62000 levels and Skymiles. And I misunderstood--Alitalia isn't shown on flying blue.

    So here's what I have so far--feel free to critique:

    Mom and daughter want to stay later than I do; all three want to travel over together.
    Leave on Jun 20 (19 or 21 is okay) to go to AMS or ZRH (CDG or MUC is okay).

    We work our way down to Southern Italy to meet family. Then work back up to Germany to meet other family.

    I return July 4-8 (anytime is good), Mom and daughter return July 10 or 11, from STR (Stuttgart)

    I have a Jun 19 to AMS (one stop), July 10 (July 4 for me) priced at 90K
    I have a Jun 20 to ZRH (one stop), same return priced at 90K

    It seems like the STR return is pretty straightforward--a decent amount of availability, albeit all at medium level.

    Fly to DCA and leave from IAD? Sure. No problem. Go through MAD or BCN? Fine. Cool. But how do I find the Alaska availability? Only at their site? And can I only search Alitalia through their site? Or UX, even? Would I be better off simply throwing myself on the mercy of a Skymiles agent and hoping for the best? Should I be buying KVS, even though I'm a Mac user?

    Thanks for the education; hopefully I can do the same for someone, soon.
     
  9. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    What you need on Flying Blue is classic inventory in coach or business/Affaires. Those will price at 60K r/t in coach, 100K r/t in business, or 80K if you do coach one way and business the other way using your DL miles. You can't book flex awards (or whatever that award type is with "Europe" in its name) or Premium Voyageur awards with DL miles, just straight up classic awards in coach and business.

    FlyingBlue shows Alitalia and Air Europa inventory when it exists, so if you're not seeing it, it's likely not there. Alaska inventory shows up on DL.dumb, but not with the flexible date search. The flexible data search on the AS website is good. Anything that's super saver is bookable with DL miles.

    It looks like you're getting low out and medium back, from what you're saying. I found two seats back from MXP to LAX via MIA (AZ, then DL) on 11 July. It looks like there would be seats to get from STR to MXP, too, but it will require a connection in France. Might be more convenient to buy a ticket on AB or LH to go non-stop. Schedule might be easier to make work if doing STR-MXP late on the 10th and then onward on the 11th. All depends on how many hoops you want to go through to try to knock the 90K down to 60K.
     
  10. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    My understanding is that I'm getting medium out, medium back (45k + 45k = 90k) but I could be wrong. I'm fairly committed to leaving from STR, so I'm spending 75k at least--don't think I want to make the wife and daughter go STR to France to MXP to ATL to LAX. (Although I looked on flyingblue and was able to replicate the award you found--well done!)

    Really it's the outbound that I think is in play--I'll keep hacking as you suggested (I'll go to Alaska and play there) to see if I can get the outbound to a low award.

    Thanks again.
     
  11. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Score! 75k for each of us.

    Alaska Airlines for the win. LAX-YVR-AMS is a low level award (we have to spend a delightful afternoon in Vancouver)--I found the LAX to YVR award thru Alaska's site.

    So thanks one more time. Unless I figure out some brilliant STR to LAX strategy that dials it down to 60k, or a business class award less convoluted than STR-AMS-SEA-YVR-LAX, I think we're done here.
     
  12. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    Sounds like a decent option. Of course you're right that it was medium+medium. I'm used to the biz chart where medium=2*low and hadn't bothered to check what medium was for Y. Sounds like you might be PM or DM, so worth keeping an eye on the return in case they release more award inventory closer to departure.
     
  13. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    It isn't always true that medium is two times low in BE. For example, on TPAC such as USA to Japan RT, low is 120,000 and medium is 200,000.
     
  14. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    Could they have made the award bands any more confusing? It seems like standard multipliers would make it easier, especially when trying to debug how a price has been determined by the random price generator.
     
  15. USAF_Pride
    Original Member

    USAF_Pride Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,108
    Likes Received:
    4,015
    Status Points:
    2,545
    Not confusing, just "Enhanced"!!
     
    mtkeller likes this.
  16. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Sadly, no--no status--told you I was a newbie. So when I pull the trigger on this later today, no going back.

    For what it's worth, I found an interesting return for the wife/daughter--STR-AMS-SEA-LAX in business--50k (for a 80k total award price). Upside is: business class. Downside is: extra stop, longer total time, 5k more miles.

    She turned me down.
     
  17. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Remember that you don't earn miles on award tickets, so it's 5K (is this really right? I would have guessed only a thousand or so, roughly SEA-LAX) of extra time in the plane.

    I would do the business class routing in a heartbeat at low, especially for the nice long AMS-SEA flight, where one can have dinner and then get a full eight hours or so of sleep.
     
  18. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    I meant it will cost an extra 5k in miles--75k (low coach out, med coach return) vs. 80k (low coach out, low biz return)

    Believe me, if it was available on my dates, I would too. But it's not.
     
  19. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    To me an extra stop is not a problem for a more comfortable ride. Your wife would definitely not like travelling with me, given the convoluted routings I concoct to find inventory. Trying to SWU from PV to Affaires on AF since work will let me pay for premium economy seats and I have a surplus of travel money that evaporates on 31 July and only so many days on which I can travel. Presently looking at LHR-CDG-IAH-SLC-SAN followed by SAN-MSP/ATL-YYZ/YUL-CDG-LHR because that's where the upgrade inventory is. Would prefer to go via LAX, but no upgrade inventory on the dates I need. I don't want to chance sitting anywhere lower than business. The worst is that there's upgrade inventory on ORD-CDG on the day I need, but there's no AF A class/DL W class, which is what I need to book.
     
  20. bilspacecadet

    bilspacecadet Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status Points:
    130
    Good lord.

    The issue with my wife is not the extra stop, it's the four year old that will be sitting next to her. Plus those four hours at SEA at the end of a long trip. With a four year old.
     
  21. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Having the four year old was a choice, wasn't it? And so is traveling with the four year old? Others traveling with you did not and will not have that choice.
     
  22. kellio
    Original Member

    kellio Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,718
    Likes Received:
    6,997
    Status Points:
    4,470
    I'm don't believe the above comment contributes to helping out our fellow mp'er. It could easily be his mother or sister that has difficulty traveling.
     
    mtkeller likes this.
  23. mtkeller
    Original Member

    mtkeller Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    1,205
    Status Points:
    910
    The is all caused by Delta's failure to provide system wide upgrades that can be used from reasonable fares on Delta flights. Instead, we have to find Air France upgrade space across the Atlantic, which usually means routing via an airport other than a Delta hub if you want to confirm your upgrade at booking. Upgrade space just dried up on CDG-IAH, so now I'm hoping I can get this booked via ORD before that upgrade space disappears and I have to go via Canadia in both directions.

    Ah, having a four year old along makes a big difference. I'd mistakenly assumed that the child was older. I'd prefer the more direct routing in that case, too.
     

Share This Page