Guide To Booking Delta Award Tickets

The key to booking Delta award tickets is to be flexible with your travel plans. This is especially true if you are trying to book Delta One (1st Class) award tickets, as availability can be scarce. Booking an economy ticket is much cheaper and easier so I always suggest booking an economy ticket first as you ease into the points game.

 

Getting Started

Log onto Delta.com and select “Book A Trip”.  Enter your origin and destination as well as dates. Make sure to select “Flexible Dates”, “Price in Miles”, and the number of passengers.

Thrifty Tip #1: If you want to fly with more than one person, it is very important to search for that number. Some flights only have award space for one ticket, so you need to be sure there is space for two or more!

Thrifty Tip #2: Delta award space is released 11 months out. I highly recommend being prepared to book when the award space is first released. Award space availability is typically the best 11 months out.

Thrifty Tip #3: Don’t have enough SkyMiles to book an award ticket? If you’re an American Express Delta cardholder you can pay with miles! This is especially useful if you find a cheap Delta flight deal!

 

Booking Delta Award Tickets

Initial search screen @ Delta.com

 

Expanded Search Functions

Booking Delta Award Tickets

Additional Search Options

After your initial search, you will have the option of two calendar views (Flexible Days vs. 5 weeks). I’d make sure to try both views to find the cheapest award tickets. If you know exactly how long you want your trip to be, then select the duration in the “Trip Length” drop-down menu and also select the “5 Weeks” button. If you live in a city with nonstop flights make sure to select that button as well. You will have fewer flight options with nonstop flights but they are much more convenient. Tinker with the various options to see what works best.

 

Booking Multi-City Tickets

Flying in and out of the same city doesn’t make sense many times, especially if you are covering lot of ground on your trip. Select the “Multi-City” search function at the initial search screen to fly into one city and fly out of another. Many times this will cost you extra SkyMiles but it’s worth it.

Thrifty Tip #4: The multi-city search function is not very easy to use. I’d search one-way flights first from each city and when you find flights you like, then enter the cities and dates into the multi-city search.

 

Other Economy Booking Tips

  • If cheap award flights aren’t available on the dates you want, check back in another week or month. Award availability is always changing.
  • Be flexible in the cities you want to fly into. If you can’t find cheap availability from one city, try another nearby city. 
  • One-way tickets are a great idea but be aware that you may incur extra taxes and fees on your return flight. (Especially from Europe). Economy tickets to Europe start at 30k SkyMiles one-way.
  • Round-trip tickets typically have less fees than one-way tickets.
  • Try nearby cities to see if it reduces your taxes and fees. Cities such as London have higher fees, while Amsterdam is generally less.
  • There is typically more award space when traveling on weekdays versus the weekend.
  • Award ticket changes or cancellation costs $150. Changes for Platinum or Diamond Medallions are free.

My Favorite Tip: Consider booking a cheaper flight with multiple connections. Delta changes their schedules all the time and if they do you can call into Delta and have them fix your itinerary. Many times Delta will clean up your itinerary and offer you a direct flight for no extra points! All that needs to stay the same is the origin and destination. This almost always works!

 

Booking Delta Comfort+ 

Avoid booking Delta Comfort+ and book Delta One instead. Delta Comfort+ is almost the same product as Economy, only you get 3 inches of extra legroom. If you are on a domestic flight then you get free beverage service and extra snacks. On an international flight, there is really no difference besides the leg room. Delta Comfort+ is generally not worth the extra SkyMiles.

 

Booking Delta One (First/Business Class)

There is no question that the best value in the points game is from Delta One tickets, but Delta One requires more SkyMiles and can be tougher to book.

  • Lay flat, spacious seats
  • Better food, better drinks
  • Delta Sky Club access
  • Two checked bags up to 70 lbs each
Booking Delta Award Tickets

Delta One Seating

 

How to Book Delta One 

Follow the same steps as above, only select First/Business instead of Economy or Delta Comfort+. The steps for booking are exactly the same.

Booking Delta Award Tickets

Sample Delta One Search

 

Other Delta One Booking Tips

  • Since Delta One seats typically cost more and have more scarce availability, I suggest booking a one-way ticket on Delta One and then fly home on another airline such as United or American with points. You can be much more flexible with your travel dates if you can book with multiple programs, and it’s easier to accrue miles over multiple programs with multiple credit cards. Delta One tickets to Europe start at 62.5k one-way.
  • Round-trip tickets typically have less fees than one-way tickets.
  • If you are booking one-way award tickets, check the taxes on your flight home, you don’t want to get hit with high fees.

My Favorite Tip: I know this is a repeat from above but it’s that important! Consider booking a cheaper award flight with multiple connections. Delta changes their schedules every 90 days and if they do you can call into Delta and have them fix your itinerary. Many times Delta will clean up your itinerary and offer you a direct flight for no extra points! All that needs to stay the same is the origin and destination. This almost always works!

 

Bottom Line

Take your time booking Delta award tickets. If something isn’t available right away, consider waiting a month. It is not always an easy process. The best advice is to be flexible with your travel dates.

If you’re new to booking award tickets and the points game, I’d start by booking your first trip in Economy. Once you earn more points and get a better handle on how award tickets work, I’d develop a plan to book in Delta One. Just be warned, after you try first/business class it’s really hard to go back to the cattle car!

 

Do you have any Tips for Booking Delta Award tickets? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

More Delta Tips & Tricks:

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