Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
This week, with a HT to reader “Sean”, is all about the best way to book a ticket to fly on Delta Air Lines. This also comes with a word of caution. What caution? Delta wants you to [start] booking everything on Delta.com, and even offers a “best rate guarantee” yes the “best price on the web” and this will also ensure you get full credit for your flight. You see, other sites, could, maybe, dump you into the “consolidator” fare group that does not give full credit for booking from them.
Now all these types are NOT created equal. Take ITA Software or Kayak for example. Both of these simply “scrape” data from Delta.com and display them to you. ITA will not let you then transfer to Delta.com, you must do that yourself. But, Kayak.com, does let you dump over to Delta.
You may be saying to yourself, all of this is interesting but who really cares. Delta.com makes it very simple to book a ticket on their website. All I do is plug in the dates, if I want coach or business or even if I want a specific fare class (i.e. at least this high or higher please).
Here is why I beg you, for now, to never ever do this ever again. Please. Because if you do this, you could be paying the exact same price to fly in coach as you could have to fly in first or business class! Seriously! Or, even worse, you may pay MORE to fly in coach when you could have flown in first (at least part of the trip). Let’s look at a real world example. Last weekend you wanted to fly from Washington to Florida. So you jump on Delta.com to search:
Delta.com does it’s thing and starts to look for the “best fare” under the conditions you have picked.
And what did Delta.com find you for you after this very simple search for the cheapest economy fare seat for your trip?
OK, well, I did this search last week, and only a few days before the flights, so I guess we can all understand that the cost to buy the ticket should be high. Right? Well what if we jump on Kayak.com and search for seats. What will it show?
Well. This is a much lower rate. And not just by a little bit. I have a bunch of choices and if I pick them they will send me over to Delta.com and just fill in the flights Kayak.com has picked for me. Let’s see what happens next:
I hope you have seen what has just happened as it is the entire point of today’s post and why, for now, you should NEVER EVER start your booking at Delta.com. As you can clearly see, not only is the price much lower, but I am flying coach on the outbound part of the trip, and first class on the return part of the trip. In fact, the flights may not even show up on the Delta.com search at all since the only seats open on the flight are in first, and you have asked Delta.com not to search for first class. Note if you try to work around this, by selecting a minimum fare class, Delta.com may give you the choice of coach or business, but not always.
You see Delta.com does not allow you to mix and match your search in this way, that is coach one way and first the other way. Nor will Delta.com try to find the best “deal” for you that is the best price and the best cabin for the best price. The search engine is not yet designed that way and who knows how long, if ever, it will change to do what Kayak and ITA does automatically.
I hope today’s post has been an eye opening post for you. Many readers commonly use other booking sites to get bonus points by starting at these sites and I encourage you to test these out as well. At this point, any site, other than Delta.com, is the one to start your booking with (with caution) and lastly, if you want 3x points for each ticket you do buy, then you should be paying for them with your AMEX GOLD Premier Membership Rewards card or the Business GOLD Membership Rewards Card – René