Five Best Uses of Delta SkyMiles

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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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7 COMMENTS

  1. Hello! Do these award points fluctuate? I have been trying to search for award points to get to (or close to) Asia and I can’t find any rewards for even close to what you’re showing above…does the time of year I want to fly cause the mile values to change??

    • Unfortunately they can, yes. Delta doesn’t have a published award chart and is moving towards a more revenue-based award pricing structure.

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