Are SKYMILES really skypesos? A step-by-step how to book Delta low level seats!

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Many people refer to Skymiles as Skypesos as coined by Gary Leff from a View From the Wing. He, and many others, feel they have much less value vs other points on other airlines due to the difficulty of finding low level seats from POINT-A to POINT-B. Thus the peso vs dollar comparison they make.

There is truth to what he says but like all things Delta there are ways around this  as I show this in my post here.  But I have had several readers email me questions asking for a step by step guide of how to book seats. So I want to help you to think “outside the box” to make this work for you. So here we go.

Step 1 is look for DELTA gateway city seats. Let’s say you want business class 100,000 seats to Europe. So start searching for one way seats around the dates you want to go. For example:

ATL-AMS, ATL-CDG, ORD-AMS, ORD-CDG, EWR-AMS, EWR-CDG. You get the idea right? The cities you should start searching from are ATL, MEM, DTW, CVG, ORD, MSP, SLC, LAX, PHL, EWR, JFK, MIA, YUL and maybe some more to the major hubs in Europe AMS, CDG & LHR. You can also look at many others but these are the majors.

Step 2 is the outside the box part. Look at the map below for airports near me.

SBN –  my home airport
FWA – 1.5 hr
AZO – 1.5 hrs
TOL – 2 hrs
GRR – 2 hrs
MDW – 2 hrs
ORD – 2.5 hrs
IND – 3 hrs

So as you can see I have 8 options reasonably close to home. Now I can promise you my wife and I would rather not start a 20 hr international trip with up to a 3 hr drive and 3 more when I get home as well. But these cities give me options to find something, anything, at low level (this part 25,000 mile) seats that can link up with what I found from the gateway cities.

Step 3 the final step is seats from AMS or CDG to where you want to go. Again you search for 1 way seats, either coach or business class. Business will show low level for 45,000 points BTW.

Step 4 is either try to put all the segments in at and see if you see what you have found. I don’t like this. I call DELTA and say I was looking at and think I have found what I want but is not playing nice can I tell you what I’ve found and see if you can help me? Again, here is where the most important RULE with DELTA comes into play. If you don’t like what the rep says, say OK thanks and hang up then call back. Also, now you can honestly say, “I was working with another rep and I think we have found some great seats but for some reason the call ended. Can I tell you what we found?” Then just spoon feed them what you have and see what they can plug in.

You may be looking at this saying I don’t want to be stuck leaving out of an airport 1-3 hrs from my home. But the beauty of the schedule change rule comes into play again. If there is a dramatic schedule change that is more than 90 min outbound or arrival, the reps CAN, if they want (again you may have to leave things as they are and call back until you get a nice rep) change your outbound city to one closer to your home. I have had tickets starting from Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago and more and ended up flying out of South Bend after schedule changes. I have done this on skymiles tickets as well as tickets I paid for. This does not always work so sometimes you will be stuck with what you book so do always keep that in the back of your mind. – René

BTW – you check for airports close to where you live here:

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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  1. The real problem is not transatlantic availability, it’s domestic availability from your home city to the transatlantic gateway. Unless you live in ATL or a DL/AF/KL international gateway it’s very tricky to use SkyMiles.

  2. Ah, thus the point of todays post. Look for ways to add segments somewhere near where you live. Add a bunch if you can. Wait for the schedule change and get your trip from the airport near where you live!

  3. I used to travel all over the world via skymiles. Now I just use them for hotels…..I have gotten some great deals on hotels via my skymiles. Try this.

  4. I have to agree with Roland. This isn’t any different from how I construct a OW or *A itinerary.

  5. Hi Jeff. For me as long as the cost is less that 1 cent per point it could work. Since I like biz seats to Sweden I personally value my Delta points at 2 cents each.

  6. I am blown away at how interesting the stuff is on this web page. I have saved this page and I truly intend on coming back to the site in the upcoming days. Keep up the fantastic work!

  7. Thanks for the advice. I got MSY-ATL-MAD-ATL-MSY all in First/Biz Elite except last leg in exit row for 100k Skypesos in October. Looks like there’s actually lots of availability at the low level (100k). Was hoping to go to Asia, but that looks like a tougher nut to crack.

    Anyway, big thanks.

  8. I am looking for the exact itinerary of commander flat us for October 2013! No luck with 100000 skymiles! Any recommendations.

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