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I’m a big fan of using airfrance.us to look up Skyteam award inventory. Historically, it’s been a reliable indicator of Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Czech and Kenyan award availability. When you found something at the Classic level, it meant it was bookable using Delta miles. The only flaw was that Delta inventory did not show.
That seems to have changed recently. Last night, I was poking around and noticed Delta inventory now accurately pulls. I am flying to Paris in June from Newark and I wanted to see if anything was available from JFK. When I entered in the date, the calendar showed 2 business class seats available on June 13.
When I clicked forward, I noticed that it wasn’t the JFK-CDG nonstop, but instead an option to fly Delta JFK-Zurich and then Air France Zurich-Paris.
To check to verify this, I entered in JFK-CDG on Delta.com, however the option did not load – instead a high-tier award through Nice showed up for 225,000 miles. No thanks.
I know delta.com needs to be guided at times, so I loaded up the Multi-city award search tool (delta.com -> Skymiles -> Use Miles -> Award Ticket Reservations -> Multi-City tab) and entered in JFK-ZRH on June 13 and then Zurich to Paris on June 14. It prompted me to select the JFK-ZRH nonstop and then Air France ZRH-CDG, just like Airfrance.us had listed.
Lo an behold, the award priced to 100,000 miles – the lowest level possible for Delta business class awards to Europe (Delta does not price one-way awards at half the price of roundtrip unfortunately). I decided not to book this, since my Newark-CDG is just fine, but I think it’s pretty nifty that Airfrance.us shows Delta availability more readily than delta.com. As you can also see, Air France imposes steep award fuel surcharges, so it generally makes sense to book awards through Delta, especially if you are going to use American Express points since they have an incredible 50% transfer bonus until May 31, 2011.
I highly recommend any Delta frequent flyers to sign up for Flying Blue accounts, which you can do here. As mentioned, anytime you see Classic award space, it means it can usually be booked using Delta SkyMiles at the lowest award level possible. Sometimes you can replicate the results using the multi-city search, but often you need to call Delta at 1-800-323-2323.
Check out my screen shots below for my example. I haven’t tested out too many other examples, so I’m not sure if 100% of Delta award inventory is search-able on airfrance.us, but I’m hopeful their systems are indeed linked, because Delta.com is erratic when it comes to searching for low level awards. For tips on booking Delta awards, check out my post on the topic.