Sunday Reader Question: Trouble Booking Delta Award Tickets

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TPG reader JR writes about recent difficulties trying to use Delta SkyMiles to book an award on its partner airlines:

“As you wrote, Delta is notorious about blocking partner awards tickets. I’ve been trying to book a ticket recently and from what I can tell, Delta is not allowing the booking of any transatlantic flights on Air France/KLM. These tickets show up as available, but when you try to redeem them they disappear.

 You’ve had success in the past for calling Delta out on this. Just curious if this is something you are aware of.”

Over the past year I’ve really shifted a ton of my credit card spend to Chase and American Express and flying more on other airlines, because I find Delta SkyMiles very difficult to use. While they are not worthless, they just require a lot more hassle than most other major airline programs.

If only using Delta SkyMiles were as fun as they promise!
If only using Delta SkyMiles were as fun as they promise!

I recently needed to book a business class award from JFK to Milan on Alitalia using SkyMiles. Expertflyer showed Alitalia availability, but the first Delta rep I called said it was not available. She was adamant and even tried lecturing me on “not all flights are available for use with miles.” She wasn’t in the mood to help, so I hung up and called again.

I got another rep who told me the same thing, but I kindly asked her to long-sell the award and wait for “HK confirmed.” She told me she processed the request and would have to wait 24 hours for Alitalia to confirm, but within a minute she said it worked and she was able to get it all confirmed.

I’m not saying this method will work for everyone, but don’t trust all Delta reps. Some are much smarter at booking awards and want to help you. Most are just as frustrated as we are with Skymiles. I can’t imagine it would be be fun to tell people “no” all day long.

Check out these posts for more on booking Delta awards, though frankly Delta has been making changes behind the scenes with respect to partner awards, so some of the information may no longer be accurate.

How to Book a Delta SkyMiles Award

Maximizing Stopovers and Open Jaw Ticketing on Delta

Delta Online Award Booking

Lucky also writes about this issue in a recent blog post here. If you can book low-level partner awards, I recommend using your miles now to do it, because I don’t imagine things getting any better!

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