Delta One Suites deal: Fly to Asia in comfort in 2021 with widespread award space for 4+ passengers
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Editor’s Note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
While no one knows exactly what the future of air travel will look like post-coronavirus, it's safe to assume that people will prioritize having extra space onboard, and premium cabin seats will be in higher demand. So, now could be a great time to take advantage of upticks in award availability and book future trips while airlines are offering flexible change and cancellation policies.
We here at TPG have been analyzing award availability based on data from ExpertFlyer (which is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) throughout the pandemic and have come across some fantastic pockets of premium cabin award space for travel in late 2020 and early 2021 on airlines like Air France, Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc. And today we're back with another terrific deal, this time from Delta.
Delta has released a ton of saver level business-class award availability for all of its flights to Asia. Even better, most of these flights are operated by planes equipped with the ultra-private Delta One Suites.
Continue reading for details on this inventory and how to book.
For more TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Should I book travel now?
It probably goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has restricted travel around the world, and you probably shouldn't book trips that depart in the near future unless absolutely necessary. That being said, we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel and planning future trips may be a great option at this point.
As noted above, we’ve found several premium routes with terrific award availability, and a number of flights with excellent cash fares. Many airlines are also currently waiving change and cancellation fees for new paid and award bookings in an effort to lure back skittish travelers. For instance, Delta is allowing any tickets purchased through June 30 to be canceled or changed for up to a year from the date of purchase without any fees.
The biggest risk right now is entrusting the airline’s financial state. Airlines around the world are on rocky financial ground following the coronavirus-fueled demand crisis and are often relying on government assistance to stay afloat. While Delta is expected to make it out alive on the other side of this, the same can't be said about all of its partners. If the airline whose miles you used to book an award ticket goes bankrupt, your ticket and miles could be rendered worthless, and you won't be able to reverse any points transfers from your credit card.
Current award availability
The Atlanta-based airline offers nonstop service to Asia from hubs like Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MSP), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA) and Portland (PDX) and serves major cities like Tokyo (HND), Beijing (PKX), Shanghai (PVG) and Seoul (ICN). We're currently seeing saver-level business class awards on all of these routes. Seats are available from August 2020 through the end of the flight schedule in May 2021, with most dates offering four or more open award seats.
For the best experience, you'll want to book a flight which offers the Delta One Suites. They're the only fully enclosed business-class product offered by a major US airline, featuring sliding doors and memory-foam seats. You can find them on all of the carriers A350s and A330-900s, as well as the 777s, though those will all be retired by the end of 2020.
Below are some sample routes we found with widespread award availability in early 2021. Your best bet would be to use your favorite SkyTeam search tool to search the route of your choice and see how it’s pricing.
Personally, I like to start my search on Delta or Virgin Atlantic's website, as they let you search with a flexible dates option and get a monthly calendar view of availability. Whenever you see a Delta One award pricing at 120,000 SkyMiles or less one-way on Delta's website, there will likely be saver-level award space available to partners.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) Delta One availability for 8+ passengers in April 2021
Atlanta (ATL) to Tokyo (HND) Delta One availability for 4+ passengers in March 2021
Detroit (DTW) to Tokyo (HND) Delta One availability for 8+ passengers in March 2021
Detroit (DTW) to Seoul (ICN) Delta One availability for 4+ passengers in February 2021
Detroit (DTW) to Beijing (PKX) Delta One availability for 4+ passengers in February 2021
Atlanta (ATL) to Shanghai (PVG) Delta One availability for 4+ passengers in February 2021
How to book Delta awards with miles
The first, and perhaps most obvious, way to book Delta awards is through Delta’s own SkyMiles program. It uses a dynamic pricing model for award tickets and is pricing these awards at a reasonable 85,000 to 120,000 miles each way, which is worth $1,020 to $1,440 based on TPG valuations. For reference, Delta often prices these awards at over 300,000 miles each way. The program is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card.
However, if you plan on using your credit card points for this redemption, you might be better off booking your award through one of Delta's partners like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or Air France-KLM Flying Blue.
Your best choice will probably be Virgin Atlantic Flying Club as it charges a flat 60,000 miles each way for non-stop awards to Asia. That's half of what Delta is charging. Plus, unlike some Delta awards booked through Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic doesn't pass on any fuel surcharges, so you’ll just be stuck paying the taxes, which come out to just $5.60.
The one quirk with Virgin Atlantic is that it charges on a per-segment basis, so you'll need to pay a significant premium for awards that include a connection. As a result, if you don’t live in a Delta gateway city, you might be better off purchasing a positioning flight to save hundreds of dollars worth of miles.
Searching and booking Delta awards through Virgin Atlantic is pretty straightforward and can be done online. The program is an instant 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you have a lot of choices when it comes to boosting your balance. Citi and Amex also routinely run bonuses when transferring points Virgin Atlantic, but unfortunately there's no bonus currently being offered.
Maximize your purchase
When paying the taxes and fees on your award ticket, be sure to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases and offers travel protections in case anything goes wrong, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Earning transferable points
If you don’t currently have any of the aforementioned transferable points, you may want to consider adding one of the following cards to your wallet so you can jump on deals like this in the future:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months of account opening, though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you're targeted for a 125,000-point offer (offer subject to change at any time).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months, though be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re either targeted for a 75,000-point offer (subject to change at any time).
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Note that Chase and Amex have both announced temporary changes to many of their cards in light of the coronavirus outbreak, and Citi will be updating the Premier card’s earning rates in August. In addition, if you applied and were approved for a new American Express card between Dec. 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, you have an extra three months to meet the minimum spend thresholds and earn the corresponding welcome bonus.