Delta Skymiles Award Travel

May 29th, 2003, 07:09 PM
  #1  
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Delta Skymiles Award Travel

I thought some of you might be interested in my experience with getting award tickets to Europe. I think we all know that the airlines are in such difficulty that giving away "free" seats is the last thing they would wish to do. However, as a Delta American Express cardholder for several years, I have gotten a few tickets before and continue to plan my vacations around some of these awards. I've also known that getting 3 seats to Europe requires persistance and determination, especially on the route you want. So, last summer, on the first day I could make reservations to Italy (through Atlanta), I called. Sadly, no seats were available on the Atlanta-Italy segments. HOWEVER, there were seats via partner Alitalia, but that would require extra flying through New York City. But I took what was available, though I really did not want to fly Alitalia via Atlanta via NYC. We put our names on the 'waitlist' for the Delta flights; outbound flight 70 to Rome was never close to being sold out though. We even wanted to use Skymiles for Business Class. Wonder of wonders, Delta 70 became available. First coach. And now business-class, less than 14 days from departure. You would not believe the amount of phone calls and time it took at the local airport ticket counter to get our original Alitalia tickets redeposited and new tickets written. There are so many codes and rules that everyone from the people on the phones to the counter ticket agents got confused. PLUS, just to get near to what I wanted 10 months ago, we had to pay $300 to change from Alitalia to Delta, plus $150 in rapid redemption fees since we were inside 14 days. We're still on the wait-list to come back on Delta 75 from Milan, so, for now, I may only get 'half' a benefit from using a business class award if we still have to fly back on coach on Alitalia. Going in to all this, I knew there was always a chance that there's just too much demand and too few seats and too many fees and too many 'change' rules for award travel to Europe to be simple. I suppose when I'm out over the Atlantic, it may feel like it was worth all the effort, especially since the hardest part of the trip is the overnight flight---and at least we can now recline and dine and maybe get some sleep in Business. But we sure did spend a lot of years saving those Skymiles, and all those card fees, and now all these change fees---just to have a 'free' ticket. It makes one wonder if Delta doesn't release any award seats early so that they might have a chance at getting fee-income from changes and airport rapid redemptions. The lesson in all this is that it just may be simpler to buy tickets 'on sale' and 'in coach,' 'from consolidators' 'on any airline' and not play the 'frequent flyer' credit card game anymore. Has anyone else ditched their frequent flyer program in favor of using something like priceline or bestfares.com? Thanks. I'm sure tempted.
asbury10 is offline  
May 30th, 2003, 12:26 PM
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I'm still loyal to Amex and Delta. I've had pretty good luck in the past with redemption. I was able to get 6 FF tickets to Cancun from LAX over Christmas one year. I just reserved 2 PE seats on Virgin from LAX to Heathrow using Delta miles and got my first choice of dates and flight times, so I'm pretty happy with the program. I've had the worst luck trying to redeem Northwest miles and have given up on accruing those. I'm planning to use all of my remaining Northwest miles for interisland Hawaii roundtrips which is about the only routing I've found with good redemption availability.
Patty is online now  
May 30th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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P.S. - I've often found that there's more availability on partner airlines when trying to redeem Delta miles from the US to Europe. Don't know why that is, just an observation. Good luck in securing seats for your return flight!
Patty is online now  
Jun 1st, 2003, 02:46 PM
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ASBURY,
I wanted to read your post but couldn't. Are you familiar with separating your ideas by paragraph?
JoeyJoJoJr_Shabadoo is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2003, 03:17 AM
  #5  
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Sorry it was too tough for you. Life can be hard sometimes can't it? I was just so worn out from standing at the ticket counter and spending time on the phone, I had no more energy to hit return and tab.
asbury10 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2003, 09:50 AM
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I've had good luck with redeeming SkyMiles for both international and domestic travel. It does take some persistence, but I've generally found the ticket agents to be helpful, and willing to check date after date, and route after route.

Dealing with Alitalia via their New York office is generally a nightmare whether you're paying cash or miles.
Therese is offline  
Jun 7th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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For some reason it is getting harder to redeem miles. My parents had a tough time trying to redeem miles to Canada, of all places, this past Spring.

When I redeemed some last August, it was easier for me to get my FF ticket to LA on United, Delta's partner, then it was on Delta. United had a better departure time to. So who knows?

When we went to Hawaii a couple years ago, I had to do what asbury10 did. I was waitlisted for weeks at a time, but finally got what I wanted. For me, a little bit of headache was worth saving us over $1000 in tickets.

Boils down to what you are willing to put up with. Also, if you aren't satisfied with a Customer Service Rep on the phone, hang up and get another that might be more knowledgable or in a better mood. That was the #1 lesson i learned.
alliegator is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 01:59 PM
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Has anyone used Delta Skymiles to fly to South Africa on their partner South Africa Airways?

I'm thinking of changing my credit card (which is how I accrue most of my miles) from an American Airlines one to a Delta one, specifically so I can get free tickets to South Africa. I'd be interested in anyone's experience doing this.
Celia is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 07:22 PM
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Hi. Re: my original post. I'm still trying to get 3 seats in Business Class back from Milan on June 24.
Today, the Delta phone representative told me that since my original return/current ticket is on Alitalia, I will have to pay another $300 plus rapid redemption fees to get the flight I've wanted all along.
I checked on the Delta.com web site, and they're still trying to sell those seats at $3000 or more each! And there's 3 available. I'll be in Italy before I know whether I will have the privilege of getting them. Ciao.
asbury10 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2003, 09:33 PM
  #10  
DE
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Had no problem redeeming points through Delta for travel on SAA London to Jo'burg with the return trip direct flight from Cape Town back to London. For us it was a simple process after transferring points from our credit card. Did this 4 months prior to departure date.
 
Jun 10th, 2003, 04:56 AM
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Celia
I have a friend who did EXACTLY that-change his credit card so he could accrue miles on Delta,redeem the miles for a trip to New Zealand on AirNewZealand.Then just 2 months before he would have had enough--you guessed it.Delta pulled the plug on their partnership with AirNewZealand.Needless to say,it was a huge disappointment.I still listen to him and his "grief".Yes its true grief!!
BeachBoi is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 06:51 AM
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Oh, no! Grief indeed.

I wonder if I'd be better off using an Amex card that accrues miles that can be used on many different airlines, rather than one that puts miles directly into a Delta account. Can anyone tell me about their experiences with this?
Celia is offline  
Jun 10th, 2003, 11:33 AM
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You can transfer points from your Amex for air miles with Delta. As mentioned above we did this for Africa but only the London to SA portion of our itinerary.
 
Jun 10th, 2003, 02:28 PM
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Celia,
That's what I use, a regular Amex card that includes the Membership Rewards program. It's $1 = 1 MR point = 1 airline mile, with a few bonus opportunities. Make sure you get one of the cards with the Membership Rewards program, NOT the Membership Rewards Options program. The Options program translates into $1 = 1 MRO point = 1/2 airline mile. Point transfers take 3-5 business days but usually show up in less time than that. I like the Amex Rewards Plus Gold Card which allows you to borrow up to 10,000 points per year, a feature even the Platinum card doesn't have!

Another option to consider if you're looking for something with a lower annual fee is the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest credit card ($30 annual fee, first year free). This card often comes with some sign up bonuses too. If you don't find any sign up bonuses on the Amex website, check the spg.com site. Points are deposited into your Starwood Preferred Guest account (one will be established for you if you don't already have one). $1 = 1 Starpoint. Starpoints can be transferred into a number of airline programs generally at a ratio of 1 Starpoint = 1 airline mile (with the notable exception of UA where it's 2 Starpoints = 1 airline mile). Two big advantages are: 1) many more airline programs to choose from vs. Membership Rewards 2) if you transfer in increments of 20,000 Starpoints, you get a 5,000 mile bonus. One disadvantage is that it takes longer for the transfer process (2-4 weeks). List of participating airlines: http://www.starwood.com/preferredgue..._checkRoc.html

Even if you decide not to get the Amex Delta Skymiles card in favor of one of the other options listed above, do keep an eye out for bonus point/first year free offers. I just applied for the Delta Gold business card in May when they had a first year free and 10,000 bonus point offer.
Patty is online now  
Jun 11th, 2003, 08:15 AM
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Patty, thank you, that's just the information I needed!
Celia is offline  
Jun 13th, 2003, 12:51 PM
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Celia:
Redeemed miles last year to Capetown on the Atlanta SAA DL codeshare using skymiles in Business. Called at the earliest time both ways and I considered it to be the best use of my miles so far. Business Class tickets through the airline would have cost me @$6000.00 each. A very good investment for 240,000 skymiles.
Good luck! it was a trip we hope to repeat again in a few years.
stepmoore is offline  
Jun 16th, 2003, 08:25 AM
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Stepmoore, were those Delta Skymiles, or Amex Membership Rewards miles?
Celia is offline  
Jun 16th, 2003, 04:53 PM
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As to Amex Platinum card vs. Amex Delta skymiles credit card, we have both and they are very different.

You can only link one skymiles account to the Delta Skymiles card whereas you can list both husband & wife's accounts to the Amex Platinum membership rewards account.

Delta Skymiles card however has many, many more promotions than the other card. Even though we use our about on an equal basis and always travel together, my husband has accrued 4 times the miles I have and has earned Medallian status 2 years in a row with the bonus base miles they give.

Right now, the Skymiles card has the 3 for 1 promotion going on and we just paid a $40,000 tax bill on the card. Yes, it cost about $900.00 in fees to do it, but that translates into 120,000 miles, or 3 transcon. upgrades so I feel it's worth it.

The regular Platinum card has other benefits, and I've found you get much better service on the phone. The free hotel upgrades & car rental upgrades are a definate plus too.
Linda431 is offline  
Jun 19th, 2003, 11:18 AM
  #19  
jor
 
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I agree with the concept of separating a one thousand word essay with paragraphs as well.

I also have used Delta Sky Miles and have had no problems, concidering that I have to plan months ahead of time and I will not get a perfect route. Of coarse it take more effort and inconvenience. It's free. So give me those sky miles you aren't going to use.

jor is offline  
Jul 7th, 2003, 12:16 PM
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Many times it depends on who is helping you over the phone. If you don't get an answer you're happy with, call back and talk with someone else.

Will be going to Europe in the fall on Delta points. We tried for hours by phone to get a convenient schedule between Los Angeles-Paris-Venice-Paris-Los Angeles. Even though Delta has a non-stop to Paris, we were scheduled on three flights to get there, departing at 7:00 am. That means getting up around 3:30 am to catch the first flight. I should mention we were booking five months ago.

Many more phone calls and we finally got a more convenient schedule, although we will still need to to change planes twice for both LA-Paris and Paris-LA.

The point is, don't give up.

Regarding the comment that it is getting harder to use points, I think a lot of that has to do with all the ways one can earn points today. Home mortgages, dining out, credit cards, ordering flowers, etc. It used to be you earned points by flying. Many more people are now vying for those few seats.

I flew to Thailand last year on United. Booked 10 months in advance. I requested first class and had to settle on business class. I'm sure they wanted to sell those first class seats, and I don't blame them. I requested to be waitlisted for first class. The night before our morning flight out I called and got the upgrade at a cost of $100. I'm convinced it was the person on the United reservations desk who helped me get it. Another person might not have made the effort to help.

Even though I had enough points for first class when I made the reservation to Thailand and had to pay an additional $100 for the upgrade, it was well worth it and it was an experience I'll never forget and will probably never have the chance to repeat.
luvtotravel is offline  

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