Continuing our series on how to use a million miles with various airlines, we examine another of the legacy carriers: Delta. This first installment was instigated by a reader comment regarding the perceived value of AAdvantage miles:
Delta miles aren’t *all* bad
Delta often gets a bad rap regarding the value of their miles (thus, the “SkyPesos” moniker). But at least they actually have reasonable award space. And even if an award isn’t offered at the “saver” rate on a particular day, at least the rate is usually somewhat reasonable (e.g. 12,500 miles versus 11,000). Take note, American.
So without further ado, here are 7 ideas for using a million Delta SkyPesos..I mean, SkyMiles:
A dozen or so short-haul domestic trips for 6 people
The U.S. West is the home of some of the best Delta deals, and you can use these to get serious value out of your SkyPesos! Here are some great routes I’ve found:
- Sacramento, CA to Victoria, BC for 5,500 miles one-way
- Reno to Colorado Springs for 5,500 miles
- Santa Ana to Seattle for 6,000 miles
- Spokane to Anchorage for 7,500 miles
- San Jose to Kalispell for 8,000 miles
- San Francisco to Bozeman for 8,000 miles
- San Diego to Fairbanks for 9,500 miles
If you’re East Coast-based…I’m sorry. Not everyone can be cool. You’ll have to do your own research. 🙂
(PWaC: We had great luck (and availability!) taking our family of 8 to California and back for 11,000 miles per ticket as well as 8 tickets from Seattle to Cincinnati)
3 romantic trips to Europe in DeltaOne
Sure, 70,000 miles each way to Europe isn’t cheap, but it isn’t highway robbery either. United prices business-class partner awards at the same level. With a million SkyMiles, you’d have enough for 3 round-trips to Europe in Delta’s business class with your significant other. You’ll even have a small stash left over.
Delta also has plenty of flights to Europe, so your options are fairly broad. Some of the lesser known ones include PDX-AMS, CVG-CDG, and MSP-KEF.
Business-class to Australia for a family of 4
Typically, the price for U.S. to Australia in business is 175,000 points each way. That’d get you a measly 2 round-trips from a million Delta SkyPesos. Utter garbage, I say. Please don’t spend your miles this way!
However, in the off season, the price floor for DeltaOne LAX-SYD appears to be 110,000 miles (contrary to the baseline given in Drew’s labor of love). This would allow you to fly a family of 4 (if you can find the seats) to and from Australia in Delta’s premium cabin. Not great…but not too terrible, either.
Some people say you can find business seats as cheaply as 95,000 miles. Without an actual chart, it’s hard to know. I haven’t seen them priced this low in the wild.
See 6 continents while enjoying several SkyTeam business products
If you’re a solo traveler, why not burn the miles trying out an array of products? Let’s assume you are a Portlander, so you start off your trip in DeltaOne from Portland to London for 70,000 miles. After enjoying Britain for a week, head to Lagos in KLM’s world business class for 65,000 miles.
After enjoying Africa’s largest city, jump back up to Paris in AirFrance’s business class for another 65,000 miles for a few days before taking off for Amman via Beirut with Middle East Airlines for 42,500 miles.
Next, fly Amman to Kuala Lumpur for a few days via Jeddah on Saudia for 70,000 miles. After that, you can head to Sydney with Vietnam Airlines for the same price.
Once you tire of the land down under, you can fly back to Seoul on China Eastern for 65,000 miles via Shanghai. Then fly back to Mexico City via Los Angeles with Korean Airlines and Aeromexico for 90,000 miles.
After spending a week in one of the most vibrant cities in North America, drop 77,500 miles on Aeromexico’s lie flat product to Santiago, Chile to enjoy the Andes. Your final return can be via Atlanta on Delta, coming full circle for 75,000 miles.
All in all, you’ll fly 9 different business class products.
Take your family of 4 around the world in (mostly) business
There are a lot of options here, but I’ll offer one that lets you see some cool places:
- Los Angeles to Seoul in business for 320,000 miles
- Seoul to Kuala Lumpur in economy for 90,000 miles
- Kuala Lumpur to Sri Lanka (cheap cash flight…don’t waste miles)
- Sri Lanka to Amsterdam in business for 260,000 miles
- Amsterdam back to Los Angeles in business for 280,000 miles
These are some great destinations vibrant in beauty and/or culture (except for where you started, of course). If you have a million SkyMiles sitting in your account, consider taking a month off from work and showing your kids the world.
You should also end up with an extra 50,000 miles at the end of the day. Enough for a second family vacation to Victoria, BC.
2 family trips to Africa
Africa is sometimes referred to as “the forgotten continent”. This is surprising, considering how large it is, not to mention how many incredible destinations it has. Many people see South Africa as the primary draw. I have friends who have visited Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia, and Niger, and all their reports were glowing. One friend even remarked that once you’ve been to Africa, you’ll be completely hooked. It steals a piece of your soul.
Delta actually has decent award rates to Africa, at least on par with other carriers. They are also the only U.S. airline that flies to Africa as well. Their destinations include: Accra, Dakar, Lagos, and Johannesburg.
Business awards to Africa require 70,000 miles for northern Africa, 80,000 miles for central Africa, and 95,000 miles for southern Africa.
Consider taking a cultural trip to Morocco with a partner connection in Paris, London, or Amsterdam. Then fly DeltaOne to Ghana. Assuming you have 2 kids, you could fly round-trip in DeltaOne for the latter trip, while splitting the first vacation business/coach.
Visit Mexico, and then Spain on AeroMexico
Even a family of 5 could do this one, if you can find award space. You could even do it all in business! Awards to Mexico from the U.S. will set you back 30,000 SkyMiles per person, and then 65,000 miles per person to fly nonstop from Mexico City to Madrid.
Finally, return back to the U.S. in DeltaOne for another 70,000 miles each. You’d even have enough to add-in an intra-Europe leg, maybe visiting England as well.
Need more miles?
Even if you don’t have a million SkyMiles, you could start a decent stash with American Express’ increased offers on their co-branded Delta cards. The offers are for 60,000 and 70,000 Skymiles and end July 5, 2017 (aka Wednesday).
Sure, SkyMiles(Pesos) don’t always get you quite as far as United miles or AA miles. But they still offer some good value, and I actually consider them to be one of the best currencies for domestic family travel (SEE: 3 reasons why Delta Skymiles are worth collecting, especially for families).
While doing research for this post, I began to suspect that Delta has adjusted some awards up sightly. For example, LAX-SEA used to price at 5,000 miles. Browsing several months, I can only find seats for as low as 6,000 miles. This makes me suspicious. I compared other prices to Drew’s Delta award calculator, and often found prices are now 500 to 1,000 miles more expensive. We all knew this was coming after Delta ditched their chart.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to consider Delta SkyMiles (at least a little) more than you otherwise would have.
Venice image courtesy of Pedro Szekely. Sydney image courtesy of Hai Linh Truong. Kuala Lumpur image courtesy of Naim Fadil. Madrid image courtesy of Angela Ojela Heyper. All via Flickr under CC 2.0 license.
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