SkyMiles

9

I have a friend who, after about five months off from applying for any new cards, decided to give it another go recently. He is writing a series for MileValue on his experience. Below is Part 3, where he talks about the response he got from Chase concerning his applications for the Ink Plus and the British Airways Visa Signature, and what he decides to do next. Read Part 1 to see how he decided on his new round of credit cards, and Part 2 to read about application day. 

If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 of this credit card application story, here’s a quick recap for you. I recently applied for the following cards:

  • the Ink Plus by Chase
  • the British Airways Visa Signature by Chase
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card by Bank of America
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card by Bank of America

As expected, I received a pending status on my applications with Chase (I have definitely opened more than five cards in the last two years), was auto-approved for the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card and was manually approved by a Bank of America representative for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card after I called the reconsideration line and answered a couple very surface level questions. I decided not to call Chase’s reconsideration line since FlyerTalk advises against it, and just waited to see what response I would eventually receive from them.

And that is where today’s story begins.

So I Heard From Chase…

And it wasn’t the news I wanted.

Here is a scanned copy of the letter I received concerning the Ink Plus:

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And here is the letter I received concerning the British Airways card:

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Womp womp. Looks like I’ll need to break from the travel cards for two years before Chase cards can be considered again.

Plan B

I was preparing for this response by doing a bit more research on the next best card for me to apply for. I narrowed down my options to:

  • the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
  • the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

I recently learned in Scott’s post about the best order for card applications that you should strategically snipe American Express cards whenever they have historically high sign-up bonuses. Both of those cards have high ones at the moment (the limited time offers last until July 6). The Gold Business card is offering 50,000 Delta miles and the Platinum is offering 60,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 in three months. The Gold Delta SkyMiles card also has the same sign-up offer right now as the Gold Business card, but I have already earned a sign-up bonus from that card in the past, and you can only get the sign-up bonus on an American Express card once in a lifetime.

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The most important difference to me between the Gold and Platinum is that the Platinum has a $195 annual fee while the Gold’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year. The Platinum also offers a $100 statement credit towards any Delta purchase, but as I don’t have any plans to fly a revenue Delta ticket in the near future, it didn’t appeal to me. Read more about the 50k and 60k Delta Offers here to see which card is better for you.

The redemptions I have in mind for those Delta miles equal exactly how many miles I would get from the Gold Business card’s sign-up bonus plus the spending I plan to put on it, so I decided to stick with the Gold card instead of coughing up $195 for 10,000 extra miles that would likely sit dormant in my SkyMiles account for a while.

Applying For the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card

I love earning extra miles from business cards. From my experience talking to friends, many people assume they are not eligible for a business credit card when they very well could be.

I didn’t waste any time– the day I got the denial letters from Chase I hopped online and filled in all the necessary information to apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card…

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…and received an auto-approval! The thrill never gets old. I always picture myself in a new exotic destination whenever I get a new travel card approval.

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What I Got From This Round of Card Apps

All in all, I came out a little short handed from this round of card applications since I was aiming for 60,000 Ultimate Rewards and 50,000 British Airways Avios on top of the Alaska miles. But it was worth a shot, and I added some valuable data points about the Chase 5/24 rule. I know from prior experience that my credit score will bounce back up from the denials after a few months.

It appears very clear to me that the Chase 5/24 does now fully apply to all Chase credit cards, including personal, business, and co-branded cards. I will not be applying for any in the near future. Proceed with caution applying for Chase cards if you have opened any five credit cards in the last 24 months, from any issuing bank.

I still came out 100,000 miles richer from this round, so you don’t hear me complaining!

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Final Words by Scott

If you want to apply for the British Airways Visa Signature, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, Ink Plus, or the Delta Gold or Platinum SkyMiles cards (all mentioned in this post) please consider doing so through the links below. I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more. You can
  • The British Airways Visa Signature card comes with 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card. British Airways Avios are perfect for short, direct, economy flights on British Airways partners that do not levy fuel surcharges like these partners. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card comes with 30,000 Alaska miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Alaska miles are awesome because you can still book pre-American Airlines chart devaluation  prices with them.
  • The Gold Delta SkyMiles card comes with 50,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and the Platinum Delta Skymiles card comes with 60,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Delta miles are great for flying to and within Argentina.
  • The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business card comes with 50,000 Delta miles after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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In light of the news that American Airlines is changing to a revenue-based award earning structure, and the fact that all three major US carriers now abide by a revenue-based award earning structure, I am writing a series of posts about when and where you should diversify the award miles you earn through paying for airfare. This post is Part 3, and discusses when and to where you should diversify your award earning when flying paid tickets on Delta flights. 

“When & Where You Should Diversify Revenue Ticket Miles” Series Index

In January of 2015, Delta switched to a revenue-based award earning structure that is much like the structure American Airlines’ is adopting come this August.  The amount of Delta miles you earn flying Delta flights is based on two things: the ticket price less any government imposed taxes or fees, and the elite status you have with the airline.

A revenue-based award earning structure is worse for folks who fly far, cheap tickets and better for people who fly short, expensive tickets. That is, at least, if we’re talking about crediting to Delta SkyMiles. But it is not obligatory to do that–you can enter your frequent flyer number with any United partner instead.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.16.51 PMIn your mind, this fact should pose two questions.

  1. When should I choose to credit my award miles to Delta?
  2. If not Delta, then who?

I’m going to dive into both questions here to help equip you with the knowledge to make these decisions in the future.

Note that this post is specifically referencing the award miles earned from flying Delta flights. The amount of Delta miles you can earn flying a SkyTeam Alliance or other partner airline will be based on flight distance and the purchased fare class– see Delta’s website for partner-specific information.

When Should I Choose to Credit my Award Miles to Delta?

The simple answer to this question: Not when you’re buying a cheap economy ticket, but maybe if you’re buying an expensive premium cabin ticket. Delta’s revenue-based award earning system rewards those who generate more revenue for Delta, point blank.

The more correct answer to this question is: when the math works out, and when you’re not chasing or trying to maintain status. Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by the latter part of that sentence.

The value of status miles will factor into the decision too (in Delta’s case, they are called Medallion Qualification Miles), if you’re trying to get or maintain Delta status. For example, even if a Delta Diamond Medallion elite earns fewer Delta redeemable miles by crediting their butt in seat miles to Delta over Alaska Airlines, he might still prefer it to boost his Medallion Qualification Mile balance.

But if you’re not concerned with status, then all that should matter to you is the math.

The Math

To figure out how many Delta miles you’ll earn flying their planes, use the following equation:

Status multiplier x (ticket price – government-imposed taxes/fees) = award miles earned

The status multiplier depends on what tier elite status you have with the airline:

  • 5x– SkyMiles member
  • 7x – Silver Medallion
  • 8x – Gold Medallion
  • 9x – Platinum Medallion
  • 11x– Diamond Medallion

We know the ticket price is how much delta.com tells us the flight costs.

But how can we isolate the government-imposed taxes and fees from that price? ITA Matrix. If you’re not familiar with ITA Matrix, here’s how to use it— it will show you the breakdown of a ticket by base fare, fuel surcharges, and government-imposed taxes and fees.

Look at this breakdown of a roundtrip Delta ticket between Seattle and the Zurich:Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 6.21.55 PM

This is a good example of the kind of cheap revenue ticket readers of this blog would buy, because it’s an example where you might be better off paying for the flight in cash rather than using miles that could be put towards higher value redemptions.

The dollar amounts outlined in the red rectangle are the government-imposed taxes and fees (sum =$114.56). Fuel surcharges are always labeled as either YR and YQ (in this case YR). Fare 1 and 2 are the base fares in each direction of the roundtrip.

Now we can plug in our equation.

5 x (595.56 – 114.56) = 2,405

So, assuming you are just a normal SkyMiles member without status, you would earn 2,405 Delta miles for flying about 13,750 miles on a Delta plane.

Even if you are a Diamond Medallion elite, you would only earn 5,291 Delta miles on this ticket.

But let’s say you purchased a Business Class ticket on the same flight, which costs $5,054.06 (oh yea, now I remember why I collect miles!). Your equation would look like this:

5 x (5,054.06 –114.56) = 24,698

Then you would certainly want to credit those miles to Delta, because you cannot beat that crediting to any other partner. It is easy to see how this system rewards those that spend more. But I assume the majority of us will find ourselves with something closer to the first equation’s answer most of the time.

Conclusion

When it comes time for you to make this decision, plug your own numbers in. Compare this first solution to the number you get from multiplying the distance you will fly by the percentage that corresponds to your fare class, which you can gather from the table in the “If Not Delta, Then Who?” section below.

If the first solution is greater than the second solution, stick with Delta. Otherwise, read on to see your options for crediting to other partners.

If Not Delta, Then Who?

I compared award earning charts when flying Delta from the following partners to see whose is the most lucrative:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • Air France
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hawaiian
  • Korean Air
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

I chose those loyalty programs because they have at least some valuable redemption options. The table below is the analysis of my comparison:

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(click to enlarge)

Conclusion

Again, the following conclusion is not considering the incentive of status. If you’re aiming for or trying to maintain status with one of Delta’s partner airlines, than perhaps the elite qualifying miles earned from crediting to that partner matter more to you than redeemable miles.

That being said, the best alternative airline to credit miles to when flying Delta is going to depend on what type of miles you value more– Alitalia, Alaska, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia all offer good earning rates on discounted economy fares (which are the most common types of tickets people like you and I buy). Click here to read about the top 11 most valuable miles to me.

I would choose to credit my miles earned from flying the discounted fare example above, between Seattle and Zurich (fare class V), to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan because I value those miles much more than Alitalia, Virgin Atlantic, or Virgin Australia miles.

If your fare class is not one associated with a discounted economy ticket, then check out the table above to see the best option for you depending how much you value the miles from the top earning loyalty programs.

Best Card to Buy Airfare With

Your top choice for buying Delta tickets should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that applies to airfare. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy the fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases, which is a higher category bonus than what any of the Delta’s co-branded cards offer for buying their own plane tickets (2x).

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many components like its annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

If you’re like me and only spend cash on the cheapest of airfares, then it is very likely you will not want to credit the miles you earn from flying Delta to SkyMiles since the airline uses a revenue-based award earning structure. If you haven’t started an account with Alaska Airlines’ frequent flyer program Mileage Plan, then do so today. Out of Delta’s partners, it is likely the most valuable program to funnel your miles into.

If you want to jumpstart that Alaska miles collection, sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening the account.

While I can not directly link to Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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For travel in July through Mid November 2016, Delta is discounting Economy awards between Atlanta and Brazil.

As far as I can tell, it only applies to travel specifically between Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro or Atlanta and São Paulo, no other North or South American cities. The sale also appears to be unadvertised, I just stumbled upon the lower prices by doing some searching for myself.

The normal price for a one way in economy between the United States and Brazil is 30,000 Delta miles.

The current sale reduces that price to 27,500 Delta miles.

Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro

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Atlanta to São Paulo:

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That’s about an 8% discount– not huge, but notable, especially if you have Delta miles to burn. Not to mention the sale timing overlaps with the 2016 Summer Olympics that are about to take place in Rio de Janeiro (August 5 – 21).

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Roundtrip, the sale brings the price down from 60,000 to 55,000 Delta miles.

Award Space

In the following calendars, days that are priced at 27,500 have discounted economy space available. The days that do have discounted space have tons of it. The calendars didn’t change for most routes even when I input the maximum number of passengers (9).

Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro

The majority of available award space that’s on sale is in September and October, with a few dates scattered in July, August, and November.

Here is the calendar for nine people in September.

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And October’s, for nine people:

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Rio de Janeiro to Atlanta

The pattern of space on the return route is similar: a few days scattered in July and August, lots of space in September and October, and a few dates in November. Here is October’s calendar for nine people: Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 4.21.45 PM

Atlanta to São Paulo

Discounted space is even more widely available to São Paulo. There’s just a couple days open in July, but there are tons of options August through Mid November for up to nine people.

Here is Mid August through Mid September’s calendar for nine people.

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São Paulo to Atlanta

This return route has a few days with discounted space available scattered in July and August, and tons of it in September through Mid November for up to nine people.

Here is the calendar for October and the beginning of November for nine people.

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Out of Pocket Fees

There are no fuel surcharges on these awards. The taxes flying from Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo are $5.60, and the return direction costs $46.16.

Is This Delta Sale a Good Deal?

The best deals to Brazil are:

  • with 20,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30
  • with 20,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30

…because you can still book on old American Airlines chart with Alaska or Etihad Miles.

The legacy carrier prices to Brazil are:

  • 30,000 American Airlines miles
  • 30,000 United miles

So, if you have Etihad miles (1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Points) or Alaska miles and want to travel March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30, you’re better off using those. Otherwise, take advantage of the Delta economy sale that will save you 2,500 miles from July through Mid November.

How to Get the Miles

Until July 6, 2016, the Delta Gold card is offering 50,000 bonus Delta miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

Also until July 6, 2016, the Delta Platinum is offering 60,000 bonus miles, 10,000 status miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

Read my review of these 50k and 60k Delta offers to figure out which is better suited to you.

Bottom Line

Delta is offering discounted economy award travel between Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo during the months of July through mid November. The Olympics are during this time period (August 5 – 21), so if you were thinking of attending, this could be good news for you.

This sale is unadvertised so I have no idea how long it will last– act fast if you want to take advantage of it.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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American Airlines, United, and Delta all release several co-branded credit cards with various benefits, bonuses, and fees.

I have attempted to summarize the following cards on one table for easy comparison:

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® 
  • United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

I consider these to be the “basic” personal card for each of the three legacy carriers in the United States. Each airline also has a lower-tier cards which earn miles at a lower rate and come with no sign up bonus. And several of the airlines have higher tier cards that come with gigantic annual fees and even better benefits. But these are the four basic cards.

  • Which cards have the best sign up bonus?
  • Which have the best benefits?

The chart below is slightly color-coded. Red indicates something particularly excellent. Blue indicates something bad. (Click to enlarge.)

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Sign Up Bonuses

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

You can spend those miles on American Airlines’ amazing award chart, which features some absolute steals like 67,500 miles one way in Cathay Pacific First Class to Southeast Asia. (The American Airlines chart gets a lot worse March 22, 2016.)

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Cathay Pacific First Class

The United card’s public bonus is 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Log into your United account here to see if you are offered the 50k/$2k offer. If not, go to a Chase branch and apply in person for the 50k/$2k offer.

The Delta frequently has targeted 50k bonus offer, and every few months has a public one. Skip it at 30k unless you are desperate for Delta miles.

Annual Fees

The American Airlines, United, and Delta cards all waive the annual fee for 12 months, then charge $95.

Elite Dollar Waivers

United and Delta have added a requirement that you spend a certain amount of money each year with those airlines to get elite status, in addition to the classic requirement of flying a certain number of miles or segments.

Spending $25,000 on your United card in a calendar year waives that year’s Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement for statuses up to Platinum, but not for 1K. In addition, you’d get 10,000 bonus award miles for spending $25,000 on the card in a year.

Spending $25,000 on your Delta card in a calendar year waives that year’s Medallion Qualifying Dollar requirement for all statuses.

American has not imposed a dollar requirement to get status, so its card doesn’t need or have this feature.

Extra Features

My favorite extra feature is that the United card offers cardholders extra award space on United flights that is normally set aside for elites.

Bottom Line

Airline cards offer attractive sign up bonuses, benefits that mimic lower tier status like priority boarding and a free checked bag, and other perks like lounge passes.

I have had or currently have every card in this post for these reasons.

However, airline co-branded cards are generally not the cards to put all your daily spending on because they only earn 1 mile per dollar. Focus on these cards for the bonuses and perks, and put your big monthly spending on cards with category bonuses.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® 
  • United MileagePlus® Explorer Card (link may be for 30k or 50k)
  • Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30k)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Aerolineas Argentinas resumed flights from Miami to Cordoba, Argentina on July 5, 2015, 16 years after the last flight on the route. I am obsessed with Argentina and have spent over nine months in the country in just the last 2.5 years, so this is great news for me.

This is also great news for anyone who wants to visit Argentina’s second city, anyone who wants to see multiple places in Argentina on one trip, or anyone who wants to go somewhere other than Buenos Aires without the hassle of connecting in the capital.

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Awards on Aerolineas Argentinas can be booked with Delta SkyMiles. While the airline has a bad reputation for timeliness and service, especially since being nationalized, my experience flying Aerolineas has been positive, and the fleet is modern.

Award Price

Delta charges 30,000 SkyMiles one way in economy between the United States and Argentina and 62,500 miles one way in Business Class.

Air France Flying Blue charges 25,000 miles one way in economy between the United States and Argentina and 62,500 miles one way in Business Class. Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, and right now the Citi Prestige® Card is offering 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

Aerolineas Argentinas flights have no fuel surcharges, so you just pay taxes of about $80 roundtrip to Argentina. (Plus Americans have to pay $160 for the right to enter Argentina unlimited times for ten years.)

Award Space

The Miami to Cordoba flight operates on Saturday and Sunday nights as a redeye. I found good economy award space on the route from October 31 to late February 2016. I searched for one passenger on delta.com for direct flights from Miami to Cordoba. Searching for two people caused the dates with award space to be cut in half.

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I didn’t find Business Class award space.

Connections

If you don’t live in Miami or don’t want to see Cordoba, this route can still be useful.

Connections in Miami

You can connect to the Cordoba flight on Delta flights. Here are cities with Delta flights to Miami.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.02.04 PM You may need to search segment-by-segment and book these connections by phone. If you find Saver award space (12,500 miles one way or less), you can add it to the Aerolineas Argentinas flight for zero extra miles.

Connections in Cordoba

Aerolineas serves most major Argentine destinations from Cordoba.
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Connections in Cordoba may be easier than connections in Buenos Aires because Buenos Aires has two airports. Longhaul international flights go to one (EZE) and most domestic connections leave the other (AEP) that is 45 minutes away by car. In Cordoba, all flights use one airport.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.08.44 PMBottom Line

Aerolineas Argentinas now offers a direct flight from Miami to Cordoba, Argentina that is searchable on delta.com and bookable with Delta or Flying Blue miles. Award space is good in economy during the North American Fall and Winter–Cordoba’s Spring and Summer.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Alitalia Business Class award space is wide open in Spring 2016 from New York and Boston to Rome for 62,500 Delta miles each way. Many days have three award seats in nearly flat beds. You can connect to New York on Delta flights for zero extra miles, award space permitting, and within Italy or Europe on Alitalia for zero extra miles.

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  • What is the Alitalia Business Class product?
  • What is the award price with Delta miles?
  • What is the award space on Alitalia’s routes?
  • What connections are possible?
  • How do you book these awards?
  • How do you get Delta miles?

Alitalia Business Class Product

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Alitalia’s Business Class features a staggered layout similar to Austrian Airways’, which I reviewed in Trip Report: Austrian Business Class from Vienna to Chicago. Your feet go under the arm rest of the person in front of you.

Image from Austrian Business Class to show the staggered seats. Your feet go under his arm rest.

Though widely marketed as fully flat, my eyes tell me that Alitalia seats are not fully parallel to the ground.

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You can still get a comfortable night sleep, but not quite as comfortable as you’d get from a fully-flat, parallel-to-the-ground bed.

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Award Price

Delta charges 62,500 miles each way to Europe in Business Class. Alitalia awards originating in the United States, including one ways and roundtrips to Europe, do not incur fuel surcharges.

Alitalia awards originating in Europe, like one way trips home, do incur fuel surcharges, so don’t book one ways from Rome to the United States with Delta miles.

The miles price is the same from anywhere in the continental United States or Canada to anywhere in Europe, so adding connecting Delta or Alitalia flights will not change the miles price.

Roundtrip taxes to Rome should be $60 according to my List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe, So You Return from Low Tax Countries.

Award Space

Alitalia flies year round from Boston, New York, and Miami to Rome. It serves Los Angeles and Chicago in the Summer.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.55.25 PM
Credit: gcmap.com

Award space is wide open from New York to Rome from January to May, 2016 (the end of the current 11 month booking window) for up to three passengers. Award space is good in 2016 from Boston to Rome.

New York to Rome

The following calendars show award space from New York to Rome for three passengers in Business Class on nonstop flights. Days that say 62,500 miles have three Business Class award seats on at least one Alitalia flight that day.
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.56.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.58.21 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.58.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.57.51 PMThe calendars show that award space is wide open in 2016 from New York to Rome in Business Class on Alitalia flights.

Boston to Rome

Boston to Rome doesn’t have quite as much award space for two passengers, but there is still plenty of space in Spring 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.59.41 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.59.55 PM

Los Angeles to Rome

The other routes–from Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles–don’t have nearly as much award space. But there is a smattering of dates this summer from Los Angeles to Rome in Business Class with space for two.
Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.01.50 PM

Connections

Don’t think of this as award space to Rome. Think of it as award space to Europe. Here are Alitalia’s flights from Rome.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.18.44 PM

Any connection within Europe in Business Class adds zero miles to the 62,500 miles price. That’s pretty much every city in Italy and every major city in Europe.

You can also connect to New York in Delta or Alaska First Class for zero extra miles. While Alitalia award space intra-Europe is widely available, Delta First Class space is much less available. That means this Alitalia award space is primarily valuable for those living in New York and Boston. But if you’re flexible enough, you can find availability in Delta First Class.

Booking the Awards

Alitalia awards are searchable and bookable on delta.com. I’d book right there unless you need to book a mixed cabin award or you are getting an error online, in which case I’d call Delta at 800-323-2323 to book. Unfortunately Delta will charge you a phone booking fee of $25 per ticket. There is no way to hold award space with Delta miles.

Pay your award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Getting the Miles

Right now Delta miles are easier than usual to get. Both the personal and business versions of the Delta Gold card are offering 50,000 bonus SkyMiles after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Their $95 annual fees are waived for the first year.

The Delta Platinum card offers 60,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQM (status miles) after spending $2,000 in the first three months. The $195 annual fee is not waived, but it is partially offset by a $100 credit if you make a Delta purchase in the first three months.

These deals end June 30.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Bottom Line

Award space is excellent in 2016 in a very good Business Class product from New York and Boston to Rome and the rest of Italy and Europe. Alitalia Business Class costs 62,500 Delta miles each way plus roundtrip taxes of about $60.

Award space is open for up to three people per flight.

Connections are widely available in Rome, and to a lesser extent within the United States.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Yesterday I reported that some Delta domestic awards cost only 5,000 SkyMiles one way, a 60% discount on the prevailing 12,500 mile rate we expect from legacy carriers. Other routes cost 10,000 SkyMiles one way. From playing around on delta.com, I’ve discovered a few more things.

  • So far, there are no known 5k segments that can be combined onto one award, so we don’t know how that would price.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • City pairs do not have a price. Segments have a price. (Explained below.)
  • All 5k and 10k awards are only bookable for flights through December 31, 2015.

Segments Have a Price, Not City Pairs

  • A “city pair” is your departing and arrival city no matter how many stops you have in between.
  • A “segment” is one wheels up and wheels down of an airplane.

The 5k and 10k prices we’ve uncovered on delta.com are for segments, not for city pairs. How do I know? Portland/San Francisco as a city pair doesn’t have just one price. The direct flight costs 12,500 miles. The routing via Seattle costs 10,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.50.21 PM

Why is that? Because Delta has clearly assigned prices to each segment.

  • The Portland-to-San-Francisco segment costs 12,500 SkyMiles as we can see above.
  • The Portland-to-Seattle segment costs 5,000 miles.
  • The Seattle-to-San-Francisco segment costs 10,000 miles.

Proof SEA-SFO segment is 10k:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.51.31 PM

Proof SEA-PDX is 5k:Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.51.58 PM

When you fly a connecting domestic Delta award itinerary in which one segment prices at one price and the other at another, you just pay the higher segment price.

That’s why PDX-SFO is 12,500 miles and PDX-SEA-SFO is 10,000 miles.

You can see this rule over and over if you try to combine a 5k and 10k segment, a 5k and 12.5k segment, or a 10k and 12.5k segment.

For instance, San Diego to Sacramento prices at 10,000 miles via Los Angeles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.23.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.23.52 PM

That’s because the San Diego-to-Los-Angeles segment costs 10,000 miles, the Los-Angeles-to-Sacramento segment costs 5,000 miles, and delta.com goes with the higher price on connecting itineraries.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.24.52 PM

This logic implies that combining two 5k segments would cost just 5,000 total miles. Unfortunately we can’t test that because no two current 5k segments can be combined into a legal route.

I tried to combine the Sacramento-to-Los-Angeles and Los-Angeles-to-San-Jose 5k segments, but that’s not a legal routing, so I got this error.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.47.10 PM

All the 5k and 10k segments disappear after December 31

When Delta first made some SkyMiles awards 10,000 miles in March, they put out a press release and said that the discount was for awards flown by December 31, 2015 only. That rule appears to still be in place for both the 5k and 10k awards.

San Diego to Los Angeles only offers 10k awards until December 31, and the best price after that is 12,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.56.27 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.56.34 PM

Similarly, Seattle to Portland jumps to 12,500 miles from 5,000 miles after December 31.Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.55.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.55.33 PM

That’s everything my digging has uncovered:

  • So far, there are no known 5k segments that can be combined onto one award, so we don’t know how that would price.
  • Combine a 5k segment and a 10k segment, and you get a 10k award.
  • Combine a 5k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • Combine a 10k segment and 12.5k segment, and you get a 12.5k award.
  • City pairs do not have a price. Segments have a price.
  • All 5k and 10k awards are only bookable for flights through December 31, 2015.

Do you have any questions? Have you uncovered anything else?

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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4

Delta is now offering some domestic economy awards for 5,000 miles + $5.60 one way. The standard for a Saver award within the continental United States is 12,500 miles one way (though Avios awards go for as little as 4,500 miles), so this is a 60% discount!

Routes on which I’ve seen 5,000 SkyMiles awards:

  • Los Angeles <-> San Francisco
  • Los Angeles <-> Sacramento
  • Los Angeles <-> San Jose, CA
  • Los Angeles <-> Oakland
  • Seattle <-> Portland

Notice these are all short West Coast flights.

All the 5,000 miles awards seem only to be available at last 21 days out. Here is the award calendar for San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 8.05.44 PM Some similar short West Coast routes are pricing at 10,000 SkyMiles one way like

  • Los Angeles <-> San Diego
  • Los Angeles <-> Las Vegas

Here is the award calendar for Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 8.06.13 PM

The routes seem to have hand picked for how cheap its fares are, and not for distance. Routes with 5k award space often have a lot of hit like this June date where nearly every San Francisco to Los Angeles flight has award space for 5,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 8.07.56 PMI consider the new 5,000 mile awards to be mixed news.

  • Good: Some awards are 60% cheaper, and hopefully more routes with 5,000 mile award space are added.
  • Bad: By picking 5k routes on cheapness not distance, Delta is taking a step away from award charts (which it deleted from the internet already) and toward revenue-based redemptions. If Delta makes award redemptions based on the ticket price, Business Class awards, and all the other best values, will surge in (miles) price.

If you see any other routes with 5,000 SkyMiles awards, share them in the comments.

Hat Tip Delta Points

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Delta SkyMiles have access to the best award space to all of Argentina–not just Buenos Aires–year round in economy and Business Class.

The backbone of the award space is AeroMexico availability on its daily flights from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. This award space is available for 2+ people in economy and 2+ people in Business Class on the vast majority of flights for the next year. Four flights weekly on the route are even on AeroMexico’s newest plane, the 787 Dreamliner with flat bed seats.

Unlike the Dreamliner Business Class award space to Argentina on United, you don’t have to end your Delta award in Buenos Aires because Delta also partners with Aerolineas Argentinas, which you can fly to a eight other major destinations for zero extra miles on the same award.

  • What is the award space with Delta SkyMiles to Buenos Aires?
  • How is the AeroMexico Dreamliner?
  • Where else can you go in Argentina?

Delta has terrible award space on its own flights from Atlanta to Buenos Aires, but partner AeroMexico releases a ton of award space from the United States to Mexico City and from there to Buenos Aires in economy and Business Class. All Delta partner awards from the United States mainland to Argentina cost:

  • 30,000 SkyMiles one way in economy
  • 62,500 SkyMiles one way in Business Class

Just how good is AeroMexico award space?

AeroMexico Award Space

Every day below that says “65,000” has award space for two people in Business Class from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. (Oddly Delta charges more from Mexico to Argentina than from the United States. When we start our award in the United States, we’ll pay just 62,500 miles.)

Other than some missing days around Christmas–and even then there’s space if you’re flexible–you can see there is award space for two people in Business Class from Mexico City to Buenos Aires almost every day.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.19.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.20.28 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.22.01 PM

The pattern is the same from Buenos Aires back to Mexico City. What about getting between the United States and Mexico City?

Award Space Between the United States and Mexico

Researching this article, I was very surprised how many AeroMexico flights there are between the United States and Mexico. Here’s a combined route map for Delta and AeroMexico flights between the United States and Mexico City.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.21.09 PM
Source: gcmap.com

Notes: BOS-MEX begins June 1, 2015. Fresno only has a direct AeroMexico flight to Guadalajara where you can connect to Mexico City.

If you live in any of the cities on the map, you can get to Buenos Aires with only one connection in Mexico City. While the Delta flights (Atlanta, Detroit, Salt Lake City) don’t have very good award space to Mexico City, the AeroMexico flights have amazing award space for two people in either cabin.

For instance, here is the award space for two people this Argentine Spring–October and November are a fantastic time to visit–from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.50.16 PM

There is award space every day. All of it features an AeroMexico flight from Mexico City to Buenos Aires, though some of it features an Alaska Airlines flight to Mexico City.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.53.05 PM

Award space is similarly excellent from Argentina back to the United States. For instance, award space for two people in economy and Business Class from Buenos Aires to Washington DC also shows award space almost every day.

Again, the backbone of this space is AeroMexico availability via Mexico City, but there are also options that fly Aerolineas Argentinas via New York. (AR1300 below)

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 1.55.24 PM

Connections in Argentina

All of these awards land at Buenos Aires Ezeiza airport (EZE). Most domestic flights in Argentina leave Aeroparque (AEP), which is much closer to the city, but Aerolineas Argentinas does operate some flights from EZE to the rest of the country including great tourist spots like Iguazu, Mendoza, Bariloche, Calafate, and Ushuaia.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.05.20 PM
Source: gcmap.com

You can add Aerolineas award space to your award for zero extra miles, but you can’t do it online.

You can search the award space on delta.com, like this search from EZE to Ushuaia that shows plenty of Business Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.02.35 PM But when you try to add the intra-Argentina segment to an international award, you get an error like this despite there being legal award space. Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.03.17 PM

The solution? Call Delta 800-323-2323 if you want to book your Argentina award with intra-Argentina award space.

AeroMexico Dreamliner

Four days a week, AeroMexico flies its new 787 Dreamliner between Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The rest of the flights are operated by 767s. AeroMexico also flies its Dreamliner on some New York <-> Mexico City and Los Angeles <-> Mexico City flights.

The Dreamliner has fully flat beds in Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration, so, as usual, pick a middle seat if you’re flying alone to avoid having to climb over or be climbed over by anyone else.

God Save the Points has a review of Business Class on the AeroMexico Dreamliner. The review is complimentary of the seat, bed, and entertainment though it refers to the crew as “ghosts, you know those things you can’t see, talk to or receive a drink from.” [Scott: hahaha, I believe it]

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.44.10 PM
AeroMexico Dreamliner in reclined, but not yet flat, position. Source: http://www.godsavethepoints.com/news/dreamlinerreview

Try your hardest to fly a day served by the 787, because the 767 doesn’t feature fully flat beds.

Bottom Line

Argentina can be a tough award ticket. There’s almost no space on American Airlines flights to Argentina for most of the next year. United has amazing award space some days, but none for months at a time.

The solution is to use Delta miles on AeroMexico flights. Fly from over a dozen airports to Mexico City and connect to the AeroMexico Dreamliner to Buenos Aires. You’ll pay only 30,000 SkyMiles in economy or 62,500 SkyMiles in Business Class each way for a fully flat bed.

Your award doesn’t have to end in Buenos Aires. You can connect from there to eight cities in Argentina on Aerolineas Argentina for no extra miles, but you’ll have to call to book an award like that.

Further Reading

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

3

Aeroflot flights are now bookable on delta.com with Delta SkyMiles. The Russian carrier flies from New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Miami to Moscow and throughout Russia and Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.47.12 AM

This is the seventh SkyMiles partner that has been added to delta.com in 2015.

Award space is excellent on Aeroflot’s flights in economy to Moscow this summer, and award space is good in Business Class on the New York route. Aeroflot’s Business Class features flat beds. The only drawback is that there are mild fuel surcharges on Aeroflot award flights booked with Delta miles.

Award Space

On delta.com, you can easily pull up a five week snapshot of award space on direct flights on any route in economy or Business Class.

This is July 2015 for two passengers in economy from New York (JFK) to Moscow (SVO.) There is award space every day on Aeroflot flights.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.20.53 AM

In Business Class from New York to Moscow for two passengers, award space is not quite as good, but still quite open if you are flexible on the day of the week you can fly.Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.21.19 AM

Note that dates that say 62,500 + $129 have award space on the Aeroflot flight. Dates that says 62,500 + $20 have award space on the Delta flight. That represents about $100 in fuel surcharges each direction on Aeroflot flights between the United States and Russia.

A roundtrip in Aeroflot Business Class costs 125,000 Delta miles + $270.Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.23.00 AM

I like to avoid fuel surcharges as much as anyone, but I’d pay these if they were my only option for a direct flight to Russia. The out-of-pocket cost of $270 is less than the taxes on a roundtrip Business Class award to London (around $300.)

Award space from Miami, Washington, and Los Angeles is not as good as award space from New York. Los Angeles to Moscow only has three days in July with award space for one passenger in Business Class with Saver award space on Aeroflot.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.31.02 AMWashington to Moscow has a bit more award space, but only has eight days in June.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.34.04 AM

The Product

Aeroflot’s Business Class product looks better than you might expect, but not quite world class. The longhaul flights that serve the United States have Business Class in rows of 2-2-2 seats. The seats are flat-ish, though they definitely look a little angled.
Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.26.13 AM

I would rather fly Delta Business Class to Europe, but this product definitely looks like one on which I could get some sleep.
Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 2.27.09 AM

Here is a video of the Aeroflot 777 which flies to New York. The video features images of all the cabins.

Bottom Line

Delta SkyMiles are getting easier to redeem as more partners are added to delta.com. The following airlines’ award space are now bookable on delta.com:

  • Delta
  • Aeroflot
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

Not all Delta partners are bookable online though. Here are Delta partners you still cannot book on delta.com:

  • Air Europa
  • Czech Airlines
  • Great Lakes Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia
  • TAROM
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

Already in 2015, Delta has added Aeroflot, Garuda Indonesia, Aerolineas Argentinas, China Eastern, China Southern, China Airlines, and GOL to the list of airlines bookable on delta.com with Delta SkyMiles. That means the following airlines’ award space are now bookable on delta.com:

  • Delta
  • Aeroflot
  • AeroMexico
  • Air France
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

Not all Delta partners are bookable online though. Here are Delta partners you still cannot book on delta.com:

  • Air Europa
  • Czech Airlines
  • Great Lakes Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Kenya Airways
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia
  • TAROM
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

Aeroflot

Aeroflot Award Space Bookable on Delta.com, Wide Open to Russia This Summer

Aerolineas Argentinas

Aerolineas Argentinas flies from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Miami and New York-JFK. Delta charges 30,000 miles one way in economy and 62,500 miles one way in Business Class between Argentina and the United States.

Aerolineas Argentinas flies from Buenos Aires (AEP) to dozens of destinations throughout Argentina. Delta charges 12,500 miles one way within Argentina.

Here are all the Aerolineas Argentinas destinations.

I’ve heard several people describe the state-run airline as the worst airline in the world, and it has an infamous reputation for delays, but I’ve never had a problem with Aerolineas.

Garuda Indonesia

Garuda flies throughout Indonesia. Delta charges 22,500 SkyMiles for a one way award within Southeast Asia.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.23.37 AM

Garuda also flies throughout East Asia and to Europe and Australia. Here is a full list of Garuda destinations.
Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.23.53 AM

Delta charges 40,000 miles one way in economy and 70,000 miles in Business Class between the United States and Southeast Asia. You can mix partners on a single Delta award, so you could fly Delta to Tokyo and then continue on Garuda to Southeast Asia.

Also of note: Garuda’s flat bed Business Class product on its 777-300ERs is a world-class flat bed. (First Class is even nicer, but Delta miles cannot book three-cabin First Class.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.41.24 AM

The 777-300ER flies Lodnon-Gatwick to Amsterdam to Jakarta. You can book from Europe to Southeast Asia in Business Class for 80,000 miles one way, and award space is wide open for two people.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.39.39 AM

To check which plane operates a Garuda route–because its other planes’ Business Classes are not as nice–click “Details” on the search results on delta.com and look for “777” in the “PLANE” field.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.39.50 AMBottom Line

The Delta SkyMiles program is changing rapidly for redeeming miles. Some changes are good:

  • We can now book one way awards with SkyMiles for half the price of a roundtrip
  • Domestic awards in 2015 now start at 10,000 miles one way
  • Award availability at Level 1 and 2 (out of 5) has improved
  • More partners are being added to delta.com, so you can search and book them without dealing with agents or phone booking fees

Some are bad:

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

4

Delta now offers awards within the United States for as little as 10,000 miles one way in economy. Previously the minimum price for a domestic award was 12,500 miles (or at least I think it was, since Delta doesn’t have an award chart anymore.) From the press release:

New One-Way Award tickets beginning as low as 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees, available through Dec. 31, 2015 for travel in select U.S., Mexican and Caribbean markets. Customers can now fly to several popular Award destinations with a 21-day minimum advance purchase.

That’s excellent news, though note that the sale is only temporary. The cheapest awards for domestic travel in 2016 price out at 12,500 miles. For instance, here is Atlanta to New Orleans, one of the routes with 10,000 mile awards in 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.48.08 PM

Note that the 10,000 mile days abruptly end on December 31 and are replaced in January 2016 with 12,500 mile days.

But my biggest question is what routes are on sale for 10,000 miles? Delta, taciturn as ever, doesn’t say. I did some digging, and I’m still not sure.

What Routes Are on Sale?

United has a similar offer. It offers 10,000 mile domestic awards for itineraries 700 miles or less.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 3.03.36 PM

For instance, Houston to Atlanta is 10,000 United miles at the Saver level because it just under 700 miles in the air.Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 3.03.50 PM So, I thought, maybe Delta’s 10,000 mile awards are also under a set distance. I searched award prices on a bunch of close-ish awards from Atlanta to check my theory.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.43.08 PM

Here were the results:

  • Charleston, WV (363 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Cincinnati (373 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Tampa (406 miles flown): 10,000 SkyMiles
  • New Orleans (425 miles flown): 10,000 SkyMiles
  • Indianapolis (432 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Baton Rouge, LA (448 miles flown): 10,000 SkyMiles
  • Little Rock, AR (453 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Richmond (481 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • St. Louis (484 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Pittsburgh (526 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Chicago (606 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles
  • Houston (689 miles flown): 12,500 SkyMiles

So the sale is not distance-based, at least not strictly so.

Can you fly from one city on that list to another via Atlanta for 10,000 miles if both cost 10,000 miles from Atlanta?

Yes! You can fly from one city on the 10,000 mile list from Atlanta to another on the 10,000 mile list for the same 10,000 SkyMiles. For instance, Tampa to New Orleans–both on the 10,000 mile list from Atlanta–is 10,000 SkyMiles.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.53.41 PMSo maybe the sale works like this: certain cities are selected and domestic awards to/from those cities at the Saver level all cost 10,000 miles. That would mean all awards to/from Tampa were 10,000 miles.

That’s not the case! You cannot fly from a 10,000 mile city to a 12,500 mile city for 10,000 miles. Such an award costs 12,500 miles. Tampa (on the 10,000 mile list from Atlanta) to Little Rock (on the 12,500 mile list from Atlanta) is 12,500 SkyMiles.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.09.48 PM

With all this data, the sale must work like this:

Certain city pairs determined by Delta will cost 10,000 SkyMiles one way for awards flown by December 31, 2015. Delta hasn’t listed those city pairs. You can combine city pairs that are on the 10,000 mile list, so if A <-> B and B <-> C are on the list, A-B-C costs 10,000 miles also.

Got it?

The question remains: which city pairs cost 10,000 miles? Let us know the ones you find in the comments, especially if they are awards to Mexico and the Caribbean

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Fireworks in Sydney over NYE. Source:

There are five Business Class saver award seats and seven economy saver award seats between Los Angeles and Sydney for much of late December.

The space is on the direct Virgin Australia flight and bookable with Delta miles on delta.com. Connecting from anywhere else in the United States and to anywhere else in Australia/New Zealand is possible for zero extra miles, award space permitting.

This is the ideal way to book what should be a very tough ticket: a trip to Australia over Christmas and New Year. This is your chance to see the Sydney fireworks in person.

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Source: http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/fireworks/

Where does Virgin Australia fly?

Virgin Australia flies from Los Angeles to Brisbane and Sydney. Both cities are hubs for Virgin Australia, so you can connect from either throughout Australia and New Zealand. Here are the Virgin Australia flights from Sydney.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Airport
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Airport

Virgin Australia has excellent award space, so connecting in Australia/New Zealand should be easy and will add zero extra miles to the award.

Getting to Los Angeles is another matter. You can connect from your home airport to Los Angeles for zero extra miles if you find Level 1 award space on Delta. That’s not always very easy. To double your chances, remember that you can fly Level 1 economy space or First Class space to Los Angeles to connect to Virgin Australia Business Class.

Search segment-by-segment for the parts of the award, and if you can’t get delta.com to bring up your masterpiece, call Delta at 800-323-2323 to book the award.

Award Space

Delta charges 80,000 miles one way in Business Class between the United States and Australia, so every day that says 80,000 miles below has award space on Virgin Australia. (I can assure you that none of it is on Delta’s daily flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, which rarely has Level 1 space available.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.06.51 AM

Most days there is space nonstop between Los Angeles and Sydney and space with a stop in Brisbane. You can hover over a date, and if it says “NONSTOP,” you know the direct flight has space.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.07.08 AM

Clicking on a date brings up your options. On December 29, the Delta flight only has Level 5 space available, and the Virgin Australia space is less than half its price.Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.07.29 AM

Note that all the flights are redeyes that land two days later because they cross the international date line. December 29 is the last day to depart to catch the fireworks.

Two years ago I departed December 31 from Los Angeles and landed January 2 in Sydney. I was nowhere for New Year’s Day.

The above calendar was for one passenger. I kept increasing the number of passengers, and the award space picture basically didn’t change. Here’s five passengers:
Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.10.27 AM

That’s astonishing! You can book five passengers on the same direct flight in flat bed Business Class to Australia in the peak of their summer and the peak of our holiday vacation at the saver level.

Unfortunately you can’t book six at the saver level:Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.11.11 AM

For economy awards, Delta charges 50,000 miles one way to Australia. I would much rather pay 30,000 miles more and get a bed, but for those short on miles, I searched economy award space. It is wide open for up to seven passengers:Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.11.40 AM

The return from Australia shows similar award space. Right now awards are only bookable through December 31, 2015. Every day you can book a day further into the future, so if you want to travel over Christmas and New Year, your return flight should be bookable very soon, and I expect excellent award space with Delta miles on Virgin Australia.

The Product

Virgin Australia Business Class is not the nicest in the world, but you’ll hardly be slumming it.

You get a fully flat bed that is 6’2″ long with a duvet and pillow. You’ll have a personal entertainment screen and access to an onboard bar.

Not all seats have direct aisle access, and reports of the food and service are less glowing than with Asian airlines, but this a solid Business Class product where you will be able to sleep and entertain yourself on the 14+ hour flights.

Getting the Miles

There are several co-branded Delta credit cards, plus Membership Rewards and Starpoints transfer to Delta miles.

None has a huge public bonus at the moment. The biggest bonus is 50,000 points on the Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum Card that I wrote about in my Top Ten Credit Cards.

Keep an eye out for the occasional 50,000 mile offers on the Delta cards and occasional 50,000, 75,000, and 100,000 point bonuses on the Gold and Platinum cards from American Express.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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9

Right now, you pay the same price for a roundtrip award and a one way award booked with Delta miles. Obviously, under current rules, booking a one way award is foolish.

Starting January 1, 2015, we will be able to book one way Delta awards for half the price of roundtrips. (We lose the ability to book stopovers on Delta awards the same day.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 4.31.56 AM

To me the ability to book one way awards is especially valuable with Delta miles.

  • Why?
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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7

Delta had already released its 2015 award chart for travel beginning in the United States (exlcuding Hawaii) and Canada, and now Delta has released SkyMiles Award Charts for 2015 from all other parts of the world.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 1.08.23 PM

The current award chart controls for awards BOOKED in 2014, and the 2015 chart for awards BOOKED in 2015, regardless of when the flights are flown.

In addition to new award charts, we will see two major rule changes on Delta awards for awards booked January 1, 2015 or later:

The award charts reflect only minor changes from the 2014 chart, so don’t expect to find a big devaluation.

I scoured the new charts looking for creative, cheap awards, and I found a few.

  • What are the best deals on the new 2015 SkyMiles charts?
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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