Delta

Which airlines has the best miles and frequent flyer program? United, American, and Delta are the big three legacy carriers that most directly compete with each other in the United States. For that reason, I publish charts that compare their award prices.

United and American Airlines currently have award charts that were devalued in February 2014 and March 2016 respectively. Delta’s is in a state of constant devaluation with frequent unannounced price changes that come into effect for flights flown a few months later. Currently Delta has some awards that go up for awards flown October 1, 2016November 1, 2016, and January 1, 2017, and I have updated my charts to show those higher prices. For travel through September 30, 2016, Delta’s different award prices can be found here.

Economy

All charts compare the cheapest possible award you can book with the airlines, called Saver, MileSAAver, or Level 1. All charts show the one-way price in thousands of miles.

The economy chart has an extra column because American Airlines has off peak dates for economy awards that are cheaper than their normal MileSAAver awards. The asterisk next to the Europe off peak award is because it is the only off peak award bookable on American Airlines partners. All other off peak awards must fly American Airlines planes only.

The slashes in the American column show the price for flying on American (cheaper) and partners (more expensive.)

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American’s devAAluation has put its economy award prices roughly in line with Delta’s and United’s.

Delta’s October Devaluation for Business Class came with some economy reductions. Delta now has some of the cheapest economy awards.

The biggest steals I see are American Airlines off peak awards to Central America and Hong Kong.

Business Class

The slashes in the United and American columns show the prices for flying that airline (cheaper) and partners (more expensive) except the slashes in the American cells for flights within the United States and Canada show the price for flying First Class on a two cabin plane (cheaper) and Business Class on a three cabin plane (more expensive.) The slashes in the Delta column show the price for flying First Class (cheaper) and flat bed Business Class (more expensive.)

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Again American’s changes put it right in line with its competitors briefly until Delta’s changes made American Airlines awards look cheap by comparison again. American miles are still cheaper to Northern South America, Japan, and Korea.

First

Delta doesn’t have a column because Delta miles cannot be used to book three-cabin First Class. To book SkyTeam First Class, transfer Ultimate Rewards or Starpoints to Korean miles. Slashes show the price of flying that airline (cheaper) and the price of flying a partner (more expensive.)
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It is almost always cheaper to use American Airlines miles to fly one of its awesome partners’ First Classes than it is to use United miles to fly one of its partners’ First Classes, but both charts are terrible. The only possible value I see is paying 80,000 American Airlines miles to fly JAL’s very awesome First Class to Japan or Korea.

For First Class awards in 2016, look to use Alaska miles, Korean miles, or Singapore miles instead.

Bottom Line

Of course we all thought that American Airlines would devalue its charts roughly in line with United’s and Delta’s, but I didn’t realize how closely American had copied its competitors until putting this post together and seeing that the airlines have nearly the same prices on all awards originating in the continental United States.

Delta’s changes for travel October 1, 2016 or later are welcome for economy travel but terrible for Business Class travel.

1

Delta has devalued its miles with no notice (again.)

Effective immediately, awards for travel from January 1, 2017 on are going up in price from the United States to Europe in Business Class.

USA to Europe

Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania; Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Island, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vatican City

Is: 70k each way in Business

For Travel Now through December 31: 62,500 each way in Business
For Travel January 1, 2017 on: 70k each way in Business
Change: 7,500 more Delta miles each way in Business to Europe starting January 1, 2017

Here is a five week search of Business Class from New York to London that shows the jump from 2016 to 2017.

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This is for partner award space, which always prices at the lowest prices. The 87,500 prices you see on the calendar are for Delta One or Multiple Cabin types.

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Delta Award Charts

Delta no longer publishes an award chart, but it still has one that prices its Saver award space and partner award space. Since it’s a secret award chart, Delta doesn’t announce changes to it. We figure out the changes by comparing the old award charts to prices published on Delta’s award calendars.

This devaluation is on the heels of several unannounced Delta devaluations:

To summarize, Delta made SkyMiles less valuable, and gave no warning to avoid the devaluation. In other news, the Earth revolves around the sun.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

With the proliferation of transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Americans have access to cheap awards through tons of foreign programs.

Here are five underpriced awards on foreign award charts and how to get the miles needed to book the awards.

1. Singapore Awards Between Hawaii and the Americas

Singapore Airlines puts Hawaii and Central America–you know, those two places that are thousands of miles apart–into one region. This leads to awards “within” the region to price out at a ridiculously cheap 17,500 miles each way and 30,000 miles in Business Class.

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Roundtrip Award Prices

Similarly, Hawaii to South America is only 25,000 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in Business Class.

This is huge even if you don’t live in Hawaii because roundtrip Singapore Airlines awards allow for one free stopover and up to three more stopovers for $100 each.

That means you can book a roundtrip from Hawaii to South America with a stopover at your home airport in both directions for 50,000 miles + $100 + taxes. That would give you a roundtrip to South America plus two one ways to and from Hawaii on three separate trips.

Full details:

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

2. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Southern South America

Virgin Atlantic has a number of partners including Delta. On Delta, to anywhere in South America costs only 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip or 90,000 roundtrip in Business Class.

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Compare that to the 60k or 125k Delta miles the same flights to Southern South America would cost.

People disparage Delta award availability, but I find decent economy award space to South America on the carrier.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

3. Promo Awards to Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, or the Canary Islands with Flying Blue Miles

Every month, Air France Flying Blue offers awards to Europe for 25% and 50% off from select cities. Here are the current offers to cities in North America.

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Oddly Flying Blue also classifies Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Canary Islands as a part of Europe, so sometimes you can find award prices as low as 12,500 Flying Blue miles (50% off) to these distant destinations.

There are fuel surcharges, but I often think the deal is still too good to pass up in economy.

I also really like Promo Awards from Brazil to Europe because flights leaving Brazil have no fuel surcharges by law. These enable a THINK BIG trip like your home airport to Brazil to France to your home airport.

Full details on Promo Awards: Fly to Europeflying blue or Israel for 12,500 Miles

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

4. Alaska Awards to South Africa on Cathay Pacific

Alaska Airlines charges a very reasonable 70,000 miles one way between the United States and Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class.Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 4.58.42 PMIt charges the same amount to Africa from the United States in Cathay Pacific First Class.

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Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific Hub) to Johannesburg is now served by a plane without First Class, but you can still get 16 hours in First Class from the USA to Hong Kong plus 13 hours in Business Class more to Johannesburg for only 70,000 Alaska miles. If you love flying, this is the deal for you.

Alaska miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. You can also get Alaska Airlines miles from their churnable personal and business credit cards.

5. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Europe in Economy and Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to the United Kingdom.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $134.60!

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Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus $135 and return from a low tax country to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

You can also fly one way from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London to in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles and $264.60.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles: Awards to Europe for as Little as 10,000 Points.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Plus there is the “90k offer” on the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Purchasing the Award

Pay the taxes and surcharges for these awards with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket. And tomorrow (8/31) is the last day to get the Prestige to be eligible for the American Airlines lounge access benefit!

Your Turn

Did I miss any of your favorite awards on the obscure foreign award charts? Tell us about it in the comments.

4

Delta changed the wording on its SkyMiles News & Updates page to include a heavier discount on annual CLEAR memberships for Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members.

Usually a CLEAR membership costs $179 per year. If you have one of the following Delta co-branded American Express cards (or the small business version) than you (the primary cardholder) get a $100 yearly discount, reducing the cost to $79 per year.

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What’s CLEAR?

CLEAR is a means of bypassing TSA security lines. The process for enrolling looks similar to that of Global Entry and involves an online application as well as an in-person meeting. Once you’re enrolled, you stop at a CLEAR kiosk located near airport security and the kiosk’s biometric technology scans your iris and fingerprint to confirm your identity as pre-checked. Then you get to bypass the normal security line.

CLEAR is available at 16 major airports.

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When CLEAR Is Worth It

For many people, Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ ® will be more advantageous for the cost, especially considering that:

  • you pay a $100 fee for Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ ® and the membership lasts for five years before you have to renew it
  • a Gobal Entry/TSA Pre✓ ® credit statement that negates the applicaiton fee is a common perk of premium credit cards like the Citi Prestige® Card , Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Gobal Entry/TSA Pre✓ ®  are more widespread in airports around the United States than CLEAR

The distinct advantage of CLEAR is the discount for family members.

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So if you travel with a pack and you highly value time, then CLEAR could be a great option for you.

It’s doubly as advantageous if you’re a family that frequently flies Delta. CLEAR is instituted in almost all Delta hubs.

Plain Old SkyMiles Members Get a CLEAR Discount Too

This might even be beneficial to you if all you are is a SkyMiles member.

All you need to be eligible for an $80 annual discount (not $100, like you get from being a Delta cardholder) on a CLEAR membership is to have a SkyMiles account. Register here for CLEAR at the SkyMiles discounted rate.

Bottom Line

Do you have a Delta Amex card and travel with your family often? Then it will probably interest you that Delta changed the wording on its SkyMiles News & Updates page. You are now eligible for a $100 discount off the yearly $179 membership fee for CLEAR, the security pre-check system that helps you skip normal TSA lines and offers cheap add-on memberships for other family members and free memberships for kids under 18 traveling with you.

Already have CLEAR? What are your experiences with the program?

Hat Tip Rene’s Points

4

Virgin Atlantic begins service between London and Seattle at the end of March 2017, and there is a ridiculous amount of flat bed Business Class award space on the route throughout the spring and summer.

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Here are the daily flight schedules:

  • Seattle –> London, 7:10 pm – 2:00 pm
  • London –> Seattle, 11:00 am – 1:20 pm

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Product

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class, called Upper Class offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

Award Space

Seattle -> London

Here is the color coded key to understanding virginatlantic.com’s award search calendar:

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Over two thirds of the days in April have SIX Upper (Business) Class award seats open.

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There are six Upper Class award seats available every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of May.

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Every Saturday, a couple Thursdays, and a Sunday in May open up if you change the calendar to two travelers.

In June you seem the same pattern as May of every Monday through Wednesday with six Upper Class award seats available.

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If you change the June calendar to two travelers, pretty much every single day of June has Upper Class space.

July’s got the Monday through Wednesday pattern for six available, same as the previous two months, plus a couple Saturdays and a Thursday.

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Changing July’s calendar to two travelers shows Upper Class award space for every single day.

 

London -> Seattle

Space for the return is sufficient, just not as ridiculously plentiful as the outbound. Calendars for six travelers during April – July were sparser, but lower that traveler count to four or two and you have plenty of options, especially if you can travel Monday through Wednesday.

The other factor to consider on the return is that leaving London will have high departure taxes of over $300) no matter what miles you use or airline you fly. So instead, perhaps use Avios or a low-cost carrier to hop somewhere else in Europe and return home with a different type of miles from a low tax country. Have United miles? There’s heaps of Star Alliance Business Class award space returning to the US from Vienna over this coming summer.

Booking Virgin Atlantic Awards

You can book Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic miles or Delta SkyMiles. The advantage of booking with Virgin Atlantic miles is that you need way fewer miles. Here is the roundtrip award chart to the United Kingdom with Virgin Atlantic miles. One way awards cost half the number of miles.

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The drawbacks are that Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have BIG fuel surcharges (between somewhere in the $400 range) and the prices are valid only to London, not the rest of Europe.

When booked with Delta, there are no fuel surcharges, and you can connect in London to other cities in Europe. All Delta awards that fly Virgin Atlantic cost 62,500 miles one way in Upper Class between the United States and Europe.

I don’t live in Seattle… can I still utilize this award space?

Yes, if you are booking with Delta miles. Tack on an Alaska Airlines flight in Economy or Business (Alaska is partners with Delta). As long as it’s the least expensive award space available, it shouldn’t change the price of the Delta award. I would say you could tack on a Delta flight in the same manner, but One Mile at a Time claims the pricing will go haywire for reasons I’m not so sure about. But it’s SkyMiles after all, so anything is possible, or not possible…

If you try, let us know how it goes in the comments.

Booking the Award

You can search for award space on virginatlantic.com or delta.com. If booking with Virgin Atlantic miles, you can book on their site as well. If booking with Delta miles, you can try pricing it out on delta.com, which should work fine as long you’re booking just the main segment between Seattle and London. But if you’re adding any domestic connections to get to Seattle or fly onwards from London, the pricing will likely be funky and you’ll need to call Delta SkyMiles (1-800-323-2323) to make sure you pay no more than 62,500 each way for Upper Class.

Pay the taxes and surcharges with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket.

Bottom Line

There is a seriously large amount of flat bed Upper Class Virgin Atlantic award space between Seattle and London over next spring and summer. The best way to book it is probably with 62,500 Delta miles and no fuel surcharges one way.

Don’t have any Delta miles? Transfer SPG Points (and remember, you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every SPG Point transfer in increments of 20,000) or Membership Rewards 1:1 to Delta SkyMiles.

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

I have an adorable two year old boston terrier named Omar that I share with my boyfriend, pictured above in his carrier on a ferry to Uruguay earlier this year.

My home base is Buenos Aires, but when winter strikes we escape back to North American summer to enjoy time with family and friends around the country. This year, we looked pretty seriously into bringing the fur baby home with us, so he could meet his grandparents and we wouldn’t have to go without him for so long.

In the end we decided not to since our schedules were still very much up in the air and erratic.

But before we had made that decision, in the midst of my research, I realized there wasn’t much aggregated information about airline policies for traveling with your pet. Checking a myriad of sources is a pain. Hopefully the information in this post will equip you with the knowledge to plan more travel with your fur baby.

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Below I’m going to cover policies of the three major American carriers. Perhaps at a later date I will write a Part II, covering other popular American and foreign carriers.

All policies detailed are regarding travel with normal pets, not service animals.

Rules That Generally Apply to All Airlines Listed Below 

  • Dogs must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in their kennel
  • The amount of pets allowed on flights is capacity controlled, so before booking your ticket or award make sure to call the carrier you will be flying first to see if there’s room.
  • Most airlines don’t allow brachycephalic (aka snub-nosed) dogs or cats as checked luggage or cargo. Exceptions are noted in each airline’s section
  • The following excerpt is from united.com but applies to all pets entering the United States:
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require all dogs entering the U.S., except those arriving from certain rabies-free countries, to be immunized against rabies. Vaccinations must be completed at least 30 days before arrival in the U.S. Since puppies must not be vaccinated before three months of age, puppies under four months old will not be admitted into the U.S. unless they are arriving from a rabies-free country. Each dog entering the U.S. must be accompanied by a valid certificate of rabies vaccination, signed by a licensed veterinarian and including the following information:
      • Name and address of the dog’s owner
      • Identifying information for the dog, including breed, sex, age, color and markings
      • Date of vaccination and the name of the vaccine used
      • Date when the vaccination expires. If no expiration date is stated, the vaccination must have been completed within 12 months before arrival in the U.S.
  • As far as health certificates/requirements for traveling outside the United States, you’ll need to check your destination country’s policy
  • As far as health certificates/requirements for traveling domestically, I’m pretty sure that varies from state to state. Let us know in the comments if you have any experience in that arena.
Carry On VS. Checked Luggage VS. Cargo

Before getting into each major airline’s policies, I want to explain what the difference is between taking your pet as carry on, checked luggage, or shipping them as cargo– at least from what I gather.

Carry on: You take your pet in a kennel in the cabin of the airplane with you.

Checked Luggage: Your pet travels underneath the plane (in the same general conditions as cargo), the main difference from cargo being that you are on the same plane.

Cargo: Your pet travels underneath the plane (in the same general conditions as checked luggage) but you do not have to be present on the plane.

American Airlines

You have three options for traveling with your pet on American Airlines. You can bring them in the cabin if they’re small enough, check them, or ship them as cargo.

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Carry On

  • Personally you’re allowed to carry on one kennel.
  • American Airlines flights can have a maximum of seven kennels on each (not including service animals).
  • On American Eagle flights, five kennels are allowed (with only one allowed in First Class).
  • Non-collapsible kennels must be no larger than 19 inches x 13 inches x 9 inches.
  • Soft-sided collapsible kennels can be larger if they’re made of water-repellant material, are padded or have nylon mesh ventilation on two or more sides, and totally fit under the seat in front of you.
  • Within and between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean (based on specific country’s entry policy), the cost is $125 per kennel.

Checked Luggage

  • Personally you’re allowed to check two kennels.
  • Kennel cannot be collapsible.
  • No brachycephalic (aka snub-nosed) dogs or cats can be checked. Read this page to see a list of examples.
  • Maximum dimensions on kennels: up to 40 inches x 27 inches x 30 inches. Series 500 is the largest acceptable, except on the Boeing 737, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (S80), or American Eagle airplanes. Kennels checked on an MD-80 must be able to fit through the cargo door whilst in an upright position.)
  • Checked pets cannot travel on A321S, A321H, A320, A319 aircraft and all flights operated by regional partner Air Wisconsin.
  • Within and between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean, the cost is $200 per kennel.
  • American Airlines doesn’t recommend sedating your pet, but if you do, you’ll need to give an agent the name of the medication, the amount and date and time the animal took it.

Pets younger than eight weeks are not permitted to travel on American Airlines.

Read American Airlines’ Cargo Animals page for detailed information on shipping your dog as cargo.

Your pet cannot travel if the forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees F or below 45 degrees F at any location on the itinerary. Cold temperature restrictions can be waived with a letter from your vet as long as forecasted temperatures is above 20 degrees F.

Read American Airlines’ Traveling With Pets page for more specific details on kennel requirements, breed restrictions, destination restrictions, and restrictions on flights with connections.

United

You have two options for traveling with your pet on United. You can bring one in the cabin if it’s small enough or ship it via PetSafe®.

Carry On

  • Personally you’re allowed one kennel as carry on.
  • Four pets per flight are allowed in United Economy® on all United flights.
  • Two pets per flight are allowed in our premium cabins on select aircraft. Pets are not permitted in premium cabins on Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 or 787 aircraft.
  • You cannot be seated in the bulkhead or an emergency exit row with a pet.
  • If traveling with a pet in economy on a Boeing 757-200 aircraft, you have to have a window seat.
  • Non-collapsible kennels must be no larger than 17.5 inches x 12 inches x 7.5 inches.
  • Soft-sided collapsible kennels can be larger (recommended maximum of 18 inches x 11 inches x 11 inches) as long as it will fit under the seat in front of you.
  • Cost: $125 each way for flights within the United States.

There’s not other information on United’s site about traveling with your in-cabin pet internationally other than the restriction of pets on flights to, from, or through Australia, Hawaii, or Micronesia (including Guam, a United hub). You’ll have to call United Customer Service at 1-800-864-8331 to learn more.

 PetSafe® (Checked Luggage)

For dogs that are too big to fit in the cabin, you can ship them via United’s PetSafe.

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  • Kennel cannot be collapsible.
  • United does allow you to send most brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs and cats via PetSafe, but they do have their own set of policies listed here.
    • English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Olde English Bulldogs, Shorty Bulls/Bulldogs or mixes of these breeds that are more than six months old or 20 pounds are the exception– they are not allowed.
    • American Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs and mixes of these breeds are OK, but you must follow these regulations:
      • May 15 – September 15: None will be accepted.
      • September 16 – May 14: These animals will be accepted as long as the forecasted temperatures along the itinerary are expected to be no higher than 85°F at the time when the animal’s flights are scheduled to arrive and depart. Animals with connecting flights may also be kenneled during the day to avoid the heat.
  • Check this pdf to see how much it will cost to send your pet via PetSafe.
  • Here is a chart of kennel types that are accepted:Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 4.47.39 PM
  • All of the above kennel types are allowed on all types of United planes except:
    • the 700 series, which is not accepted on Boeing 737 aircraft
    • Embraer Regional Jets (ERJ and SRJ) operated by ExpressJet Airlines don’t accept any animals
  • Fun fact: you’ll earn 500 United miles for every pet you send via PetSafe domestically, and 1,000 United miles for every pet you send internationally.

Pets younger than eight weeks are not permitted to travel on United.

More specific details can be found here regarding destination restrictions when shipping your pet via PetSafe.

More specific details can be found here regarding kennel requirements when shipping your pet via PetSafe.

Delta

You have two options for traveling with your pet on Delta. If it’s small enough you can bring one in the cabin, and if not you can ship it via VARIATION® LIVE (Delta’s brand for animal cargo).

Carry On

  • Personally you can only carry on one kennel.
  • Delta flights can have a maximum of two kennels in First Class, two kennels in domestic Business or domestic Delta One, and four in economy.
  • No kennels are allowed in international Business Class or Delta One.
  • On American Eagle flights, five kennels are allowed (with only one allowed in First Class).
  • Delta doesn’t list the maximum kennel sizes for carry on, you have to call Delta Reservations about your specific plane to find out. The kennel must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.
  • Pet must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic travel, 16 weeks if traveling from other countries to the United States, and 15 weeks for European Union travel.
  • One way fees for traveling with your pets to/from the following locations:
    • U.S./Canada: $125 USD/CAD
    • Virgin Islands: $125 USD/CAD
    • Puerto Rico: $125 USD/CAD
    • Outside the U.S.: $200 USD/CAD/EUR
    • Brazil: $75 USD

Read more specific details about carrying your pet onto a Delta flight–like destination restrictions– here.

Cargo

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  • American, English (including the Old English) or French bulldogs are not allowed to be shipped as cargo under any condition.
  • Delta doesn’t define the accepted dimensions of kennels, apart from: “You must use a kennel that meets USDA and IATA LAR regulations”.
  • Look up the cost of shipping your warm-blooded pet as cargo here.
  • If you choose to sedate your pet you’ll need to attach a note from the veterinarian on the kennel.

Read Delta’s cargo page for more specific details about shipping your dog via VARIATION® LIVE.

Bottom Line

If you collect miles and points to travel and also want to take your pet along, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the major airlines’ policies as that could very well affect the kind of miles you should be collecting.

For example, American Airlines doesn’t allow travel with pets as carry on luggage between Argentina and the United States (a trip I take often), and my dog is snub-nosed, therefore he cannot travel as checked luggage nor as cargo on their planes. So if I wanted miles for a trip to take Omar home next South American winter, then I shouldn’t focus on American Airlines or other One World Alliance miles. Instead, the airline (out of the three listed above) with the most lenient policies towards boston terriers is Delta. So I would want to focus on collecting Delta miles or another type of miles that could book Delta flights.

Bookmark this page in case you plan on traveling with your fur baby in the future.

8

I am re-publishing this post as a reminder that as of October 1, 2016, Delta Skymiles prices for Business Class awards between North American and Australia, Asia, Africa, and South America are becoming more expensive. Economy awards between the United States and South Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and the Middle East are getting cheaper however. 

If you have been saving your Skymiles for a Business Class award to any of those areas, consider booking so your trip is completed before October 1. The booking date is irrelevant, only the travel dates matter. 

Delta has devalued its miles with no notice (again.)

Effective immediately, awards for travel from October 1, 2016 on are going up in price to:

  • North Asia in Business Class
  • Southeast Asia in Business Class
  • Southwest Pacific in Business Class
  • Africa and South Africa in Business Class

However, awards for travel from October 1, 2016 on are going down in price to:

  • South Africa in economy
  • Southwest Pacific in economy
  • Middle East in economy

Delta no longer publishes an award chart, so we know about these changes by comparing the old award charts to prices published on Delta’s award calendars for travel from October 1, 2016 on. This is another blow to the value of SkyMiles, which are already the least valuable of any major mileage currency.

Let’s dive into the changes.

North Asia

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Micronesia, Philippines, Taiwan , Russia East of the Ural Mountains, Guam, Saipan

Was: 35k/70k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 35k/80k each way in economy/Business
Change: 10,000 more Delta miles each way in Business Class to Northern Asia

Southeast Asia

Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Vietnam

Was: 45k/70k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 40k/80k each way in economy/Business
Change: 10,000 more Delta miles each way in Business Class to Southeast Asia

Southwest Pacific

American Samoa, Australia, Christmas Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis, Futuna Islands

Was: 50k/80k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 45k/95k each way in economy/Business
Change: 5,000 fewer Delta miles each way in economy to Australia/New Zealand, 15,000 extra miles in Business Class

Middle East

Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen

Was: 40k/70k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 35k/70k each way in economy/Business
Change: 5,000 fewer Delta miles each way in economy to the Middle East

Africa (most of it, at least)

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Was: 40k/70k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 40k/80k each way in economy/Business
Change: 10,000 more Delta miles each way in Business Class to most of Africa

South Africa

South Africa is a separate region from the rest of Africa.

Was: 50k/80k each way in economy/Business
For Travel after October 1: 40k/95k each way in economy/Business
Change: 10,000 fewer Delta miles each way in economy to South Africa, 15,000 more miles in Business

Other Regions

I have only covered award price changes for awards originating in the continental United States. There are other award chart changes. You can check out the full FlyerTalk thread that is uncovering them here.

Bottom Line

Delta miles have again gotten less valuable if you like to fly in Business Class. In economy class, a few awards have gotten cheaper. As usual, Delta gave no notice of the devaluation.

Award price changes are for travel October 1, 2016 or later. Booking date is irrelevant.1

16

Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France and a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Citi, and SPG. Flying Blue has a number of well-documented sweet spots including 15,000 miles one way to Hawaii from the United States mainland.

Speaking of transferring Citi points, I have to take down the Citi Prestige 50k offer in five days. Last time I had to take down a Citi 50k offer, the sign up bonus went to zero. Don’t miss out.

At the moment, however, you can book awards between the mainland and Kauai for 12,500 miles each way or 25,000 miles roundtrip. I assume this is a glitch caused by Flying Blue mis-classifying Kauai as being in the continental United States. LifeMiles used to have similar glitches putting Guam, Istanbul, and a few others in the continental United States.

It took LifeMiles months and months to correct those mistakes, so it might take Flying Blue a similar amount of time, or they might correct this mistake tomorrow. You should book as soon as you can if you want the discount.

The Mistake

Honolulu, Kona, and Maui still show the 15,000 miles price each way. That’s not bad, since Delta wants 22,500 Delta miles for the same flights, but it isn’t a mistake.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.14.02 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.14.08 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.14.41 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.14.47 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.15.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.15.31 PM The mistake is that Kauai is only 12,500 miles one way.Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.15.58 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.16.01 PM The 12,500 mile price comes up on the direct Delta flight between Los Angeles and Kauai. The award has only $5.60 in taxes each way.Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.16.16 PM

Unfortunately the mistake does not extend to First Class awards. In fact, Delta First Class (search Business Class on airfrance.us) prices at 31,250 miles each way…

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.43.03 PM …while awards to the other islands are only 30,000 miles each way.Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.43.27 PM

The Award Space

For Flying Blue to have access to Delta award space at all, Delta needs to release Level 1 (Saver) award space to its members. This used to be laughably rare, especially to Hawaii, but Delta has quietly improved its award space, including to Hawaii.

For instance, here is economy award space from Atlanta to Kauai from August 1 to September 4, 2016. We see award space for 12,500 miles one way on 18/35 days.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.17.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.17.30 PM This is 11 hours of flying to Hawaii for the normal price of a domestic economy award.Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.17.54 PM

You can find similar award space from many cities in America to Kauai and back for 25,000 Flying Blue miles roundtrip.

Other Great Deals to Hawaii

Never use United, Delta, or American Airlines miles to Hawaii.

Searching and Booking the Mistake

You can search for Flying Blue award space at airfrance.us once you have started an account.

Sign in to your Flying Blue account and select “Use My Miles”.  Everything on the search form is pretty intuitive. Delta First Class is “Business” on the search screen.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.09.17 AM

All transferable points transfer 1:1 to Flying Blue miles. The most time-sensitive way to get Flying Blue miles is by opening the Citi Prestige by Tuesday since its sign up details may change then.

Bottom Line

Book awards to Kauai on Delta planes with surprisingly good award space for 12,500 Flying Blue miles each way right now before the price goes up to 15,000 miles each way. (Of course, when that happens, you can still book the space for 25,000 Korean miles roundtrip.)

MileValue reader Rich has already booked this deal for four people, using 100,000 Flying Blue miles instead of $2,856 for four roundtrips to Kauai! Thanks, Rich, for the heads up.

2

Delta domestic economy and Delta Comfort+ award tickets are on sale for as little as 5,000 miles one way.

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Conditions of the Sale

  • Must book award within the next week (by July 18, 2016)
  • Valid travel dates: on or after August 23, 2016 through February 10, 2017
  • Must book award at least 21 days ahead of travel time
  • Blackout dates

Listed below are some (but not all) examples of fares on sale:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.07.43 PM

Discounted Award Price Might Apply for Travel Before August 23

I searched for Atlanta to Chicago and found the sale price widely available in economy and Comfort+; interestingly the sale price is available even before the date the sale begins:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.39.48 PM

Delta claims the awards that are on sale are for travel beginning August 23, 2016 but all the routes I checked have discounted prices beginning August 1 (21 days out from today). Here is Austin to Los Angeles…

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.44.07 PM

….and Charleston, SC to New York City.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 3.50.05 PM

The end travel date Delta claims the sale lasts through does appear to be correct. I looked up the prices of the awards above through February and all of the discounted award prices end February 10, 2017.

Is This Delta Sale a Good Deal?

On the Charleston to New York route the sale price of 7,500 miles is a 5,000 mile discount in economy on the price before Delta deleted its award charts. Comfort+ is new since the deleted award charts, so I don’t know how much of a discount this is.

By the way, Comfort+ is economy with a little extra legroom and a few more perks.

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Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 12.47.47 PM

I value Delta miles at 1.3 cents each, far below its competitors because Delta award space isn’t great, its partners aren’t as useful as most programs’, and it collects fuel surcharges on many awards.

At such a low valuation, domestic economy awards can be a good use of miles, but before booking, look up the price of the cash flight. Remember that 7,500 mile award from Charleston to New York City? That same cash flight is $147.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 4.37.20 PM

That means you’d get about 1.96 cents of value for your 7,500 SkyMiles if you booked the award. In in this  case, I would book the discounted award fare.

Run your own numbers by looking up the cash ticket price and dividing that number by the amount of miles you would use for the award. If you get an amount lower than .013 (1.3 cents per mile– or whatever you value Delta miles at), then I’d book this as a cash ticket. (Or better yet with the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card.)

Bottom Line

Delta is offering discounted economy and Comfort+ awards on 8,000+ domestic routes. Book by July 18 and fly late summer 2016 through mid February 2017.  Just make sure to compare the cost of a cash flight before jumping on the sale.

Read the offer’s full terms and conditions here.

2

For about a month, the Delta Gold and Platinum cards have had 50,000 to 60,000 point sign up bonuses. Those offers end today (Wednesday, July 6, 2016.)

The Delta Gold personal and business cards are offering 50,000 bonus Delta miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

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.

Quick Facts

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.53.35 PM

  • Sign Up Bonus:
    Platinum: 60k miles, 10k MQMs, and $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 in first three months
    Gold personal & business: 50k miles and $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first three months
  • Category Bonuses: 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • Value of Delta Miles: Worth 1.3 cents each to me
  • Free Checked Bag for you plus up to three others on same Delta reservation
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Annual Fee:
    Platinum: $195, not waived (so a net of -$95 after statement credit)
    Gold: $95, waived for first year (so a net of +$50 after statement credit)
  • You can only get the bonus once per lifetime on Amex cards. Example: if in the past, you have had only the Gold personal, you are ineligible to get the bonus on the Gold personal, but you can get the bonus on the Platinum personal or Gold business.

So, Gold or Platinum?

I compared them fully in this post. The upshot is that the offers are about equal if you don’t care about Delta status, and the Delta Platinum is much better if you do.

One strategy I didn’t mention that I think is really strong is applying for both the Delta Gold personal and business cards on the same day. Both offer 50,000 bonus miles after $2,000 in spending in the first three months, and both waive the annual fee for the first year.

They also each offer a $50 statement credit for making a Delta purchase in the first three months, which can be activated by buying a $50 gift card.

In total, that would be 104,000 Delta miles for spending $4,000 in the first three months and $100 in free Delta gift cards for future flights.

I value Delta Miles at 1.3 cents each, so I value 104,000 SkyMiles at $1,352. Add in the $100 in free Delta flights, and $1,452 worth of miles and flights is an amazing haul for two credit card applications.

What to Do with 104,000 SkyMiles?

I recently posted the Top Five Uses of Delta SkyMiles and separately about the great award space in Business Class to Southeast Asia on partners.

SkyMiles used to lag way behind American and United miles in value, but that just isn’t the case any more as all are in the 1.3 to 1.6 cent range for me.

SkyMiles really shine in Business Class to Asia on partners China Airlines, China Eastern, and Korean.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.08.17 PM

They can also be really good in economy or Business Class to Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia.

And I should mention that you don’t need to search for award space with Delta miles if you don’t want to. You can instead redeem them for 1 cent each toward purchasing any Delta ticket. I don’t recommend this because you should easily get more than 1 cent of value per mile by redeeming them for partner flights, but even this would guarantee $1,040 of value from 104,000 miles.

Bottom Line

Today (July 6) is the last day to get the Delta Gold and Platinum cards with 50,000 and 60,000 mile sign up bonuses.

The Delta Gold personal and business cards are offering 50,000 bonus Delta miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

And 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.

2

There is great award space to Southeast Asia next January and February (which is peak dry season in many places) in Business Class that you can book with Delta SkyMiles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.04.54 PM

If you have Delta miles, book yourself an amazing Southeast Asian escape from winter today. If you don’t, get the miles today and book this space soon.

For six more days, until July 6, 2016, the Delta Gold personal and business cards are offering 50,000 bonus Delta miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

And 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.

Award Space

Award space is widely available for two people in Business Class from most American cities to major Southeast Asian cities in January, February, and March. For instance, Los Angeles to Phnom Penh, Cambodia has award space for two passengers in Business Class on 34/35 days at the Saver price of 80,000 miles one way.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.53.29 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.53.36 AM

All the days with $120 out of pocket are operated by China Eastern.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.54.04 AM

Similarly New York to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has award space on 33/35 days over the same period.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.55.06 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.55.11 AM

Atlanta to Bangkok has award space for two in Business Class on 19/35 days.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.57.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.57.27 AM

Search from your home town to your preferred destination right on delta.com where Delta plus Asian partners China Eastern, China Southern, China Airlines, and Korean Airlines are all searchable.Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.08.43 PM

Product

Much of the award space is on China Eastern. China Eastern’s new 777-300ERs serve American routes. They feature flat beds in Business Class in a 1-2-1 configuration ensuring aisle access for all Business Class passengers.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 3.11.38 PM

China Airlines, China Southern, Korean, and Delta also feature flat beds in Business Class.

Booking the Award

Search on delta.com. Book on delta.com or by calling Delta at 800-323-2323 if you want to book Business one way and economy (40k miles) one way.

Pay your award taxes 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.

Bottom Line

There is great Delta award space in Business Class that you can book to Southeast Asia for two people during 2017’s dry season. You can book the space for 80,000 SkyMiles per person per direction.

For six more days, until July 6, 2016, the Delta Gold personal and business cards are offering 50,000 bonus Delta miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in your first three months.

And 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.

2

Delta domestic award space can be really crappy. But from Delta’s hubs, you can take non-stop award flights to tons of enticing destinations without the trouble of finding award space.

Delta hubs in the United States:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Los Angeles
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle

I’m going to show you great non-stop award space from four of these hubs to intercontinental destinations around the world. Why? Because the sign-up bonus offers on the Amex Delta cards are some of the highest they’ve ever been. You can only earn one sign-up bonus per card once a lifetime, so it’s important to take note when they’re high.

If you live in one of Delta’s nine hubs, the sign-up bonuses from the Delta Amex cards could take you (and loved ones) very far, very easily.

4597095571_4c3bbb4111_o
The streets of Bogotá, Colombia, by Diego F. Garcia P. taken from Flicker Creative Commons

The Deal With the Delta Cards

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.

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, also only until July 6, 2016.

The small business versions of these cards are offering the same sign-up offers, also only lasting through July 6, 2016.

This is the largest bonus I’ve seen on the Platinum card. I’ve seen up to 70,000 on the Gold card, but this is still quite high for a card that normally offers only 30,000 miles.

Read my post about both offers to see which is more suited to you.

Award Space from Delta Hubs

Delta does not publish their award chart anymore, so the prices you see below may just be a sale for the time period and not the normal price year round. All calendars are non-stop, for two people, unless otherwise noted.

Atlanta to Bogotá

Economy award space is available daily all of September from Atlanta to Bogotá, Colombia. With the 50k sign-up bonus from the Delta Gold card you could fly roundtrip and still have plenty of miles leftover.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 4.47.56 PMThe return to Atlanta isn’t quite as open but as long as you don’t mind flying during the weekdays, you’ll have no problem finding space.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 4.53.46 PMNew York to Barcelona

Take a holiday trip to Spain. You’d have enough miles from the Delta Platinum’s 60k sign-up bonus to treat yourself to Business Class in one direction and fly the other way with a different kind of miles.

The first calendar is for one person from New York to Barcelona, and the second is for one person from Barcelona to New York.

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Seattle to Cancun

11 out of the 31 days in January 2017 have economy space between Seattle and Cancun. With the sign-up bonus from the Delta Platinum plus another 8k miles you could fly two people roundtrip.

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The return back to Seattle has equally as much space.

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Los Angeles to Honolulu

You can fly roundtrip to Honolulu in economy from Los Angeles with just the sign-up bonus from the Delta Gold card, and still have at least 7k miles left over. If you travel in August or September you’ll have a ton of dates to choose from in both directions.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 5.58.11 PM

Here’s the return back to Los Angeles.
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Bottom Line

Getting from a small hometown airport to a Delta hub as part of a single award can be difficult due to Delta’s lack of domestic award space. But if you live in one of its nine hubs, then the Delta Gold or Platinum might be the perfect card for you right now. Sign up before July 6 to cash in on the 50k and 60k sign-up bonuses on the Amex Delta Gold and Platinum.

Hat tip Million Mile Secrets

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:

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 5.19.59 PM

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.

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:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 1.20.45 PM
(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.)

5

Until July 6, 2016, the Delta Gold card is offering 50,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit; the Delta Platinum is offering 60,000 bonus miles, 10,000 status miles (MQMs), and a $100 statement credit.

I compared the 50,000 mile Gold and 60,000 mile Platinum offers here, and discussed which is better for you.

Delta miles have been derided for years as less valuable than most types of miles. While that remains true, United and American Airlines have devalued their award charts to the point that some Delta awards are cheap. Delta also has a number of partners with fantastic Business Class cabins with plenty of award space. If you’re serious about miles, you should collect Delta miles, and you should easily get great value from your SkyMiles.

Here are a few very high value awards with SkyMiles:

  1. 35,000 miles each way + taxes to Middle East.  American charges 40k; United charges 42.5k.
  2. 35,000 miles each way + taxes to North Asia and China. This is the same amount American and United charge, but Delta has better award space.
  3. 80,000 miles each way + taxes in Business Class to anywhere in East Asia on China Airlines, which has amazing award space and a top notch flat bed product.
  4. 80,000 miles each way + taxes + $200 fuel surcharge in Business Class to anywhere in East Asia on China Eastern Airlines, which has amazing award space and a top notch flat bed product (though you may prefer to redeem Korean miles for China Eastern First Class to fly in a double bed.)
  5. 62,500 miles each way + taxes in Business Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic

35k to Middle East

Other than using 25,000 (or occasionally 12,500) Flying Blue miles to Israel, this is probably the best award to the Middle East. Delta’s 35,000 miles price point is significantly cheaper than the 40,000 American Airlines miles or 42,500 United miles the same award would cost.

Most routing options will be via Europe on partners like Air France.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.09.01 PM Award space is available every day in February from New York to Dubai.Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.09.34 PM

35k to North Asia and China

From the United States to North Asia and China, Delta has the same 35,000 miles price as United and American. (Technically American charges 32,500 to 37,500 miles depending on date, partner, and destination.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.11.54 PM

The reason I included this award is that award space is just so wide open on Delta flights and partners Korean and China Airlines. For instance, award space is open 27/28 days in February from New York to Hong Kong.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.11.07 PM

80k State of the Art Flat Beds to Asia (No Fuel Surcharges)

China Airlines, based in Taiwan, has a top notch flat bed product that they updated in 2014. The four 6’6″ beds per row all have direct aisle access.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 5.08.17 PM

China Airlines releases masses of award space in Business Class, Delta doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on China Airlines flights, and the 80,000 mile price is the same whether you go to Taiwan or anywhere else in East or Southeast Asia.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.13.16 PM

Right now there is award space in Business Class–usually 2 to 3 seats per flight–from Los Angeles to Taipei every day from February 5 to March 4.
Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.12.53 PM

Another 80k Option to Asia (but with Fuel Surcharges)

China Eastern also releases a ton of state-of-the-art flat bed award space to Asia in Business Class that you can book with 80,000 Delta miles. Unfortunately you’ll also pay about $200 in fuel surcharges per direction.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.17.13 PM

There is award space every day in February and March from New York to Shanghai in China Eastern Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.17.41 PM

Unfortunately Delta miles cannot book partner First Class, and China Eastern First Class features two middle seats that combine into one double bed. You can book the double bed with Korean miles, a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG Starpoints.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.24.09 PM62.5k Flat Bed to Europe, Good Award Space

Delta doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Virgin Atlantic flights when you book one way or roundtrip awards originating in the United States. (Booking just a one way award home from Europe will incur fuel surcharges.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.16.25 PM

Award space is good in Business Class from San Francisco to London this February with most days pricing at 62,500 miles one way and the rest at 80,000.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.15.20 PMMost of that award space is on Virgin Atlantic direct flights with flat beds. I’ve isolated the direct Virgin Atlantic Upper Class award space here:
Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.16.14 PM
Unfortunately if you just book the one way to Europe to avoid expensive taxes out of London, you’ll miss the amazing Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse there. If you want to see that on a one way award, you’d pay an obscene $506 in taxes and fuel surcharges on top of your miles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 7.41.00 PM

Bottom Line

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.

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.

These huge bonuses can be used for very high value awards in economy or Business Class to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

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