Gaming the system to scoring low level award with Delta Air Lines!

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I have in comments and in emails been accused of being a “one trick pony” when it comes to the “mighty schedule change rule” in booking award tickets with Delta. Now I would not say this is completely a fair criticism but also I do agree that when you ever find something that works (unlike the award booking part of well with Delta you exploit it for all it is worth. To really take advantage of this you need to be Platinum or Diamond Medallion.

One of the keys to this, and one of the reasons I do mileage runs, as well as Delta AMEX Reserve “mileage runs”, that is spend $60,000 a year on the a card, to get 30,000 MQM’s, is so I can keep my status each year I can. The new MQD requirement goes out the window if we spend $25,000 on a Delta AMEX so no stress there. Remember, both the Delta AMEX and your status will give you access to a greater availability of Delta low level seats. It will also let you tinker as much as you want with award seats up to 72 hrs before flight. I mean you could have a ticket reissued 2 or 3 times a day if you keep finding better flights.

Are there ways to take this to the extreme? You bet and I do. Let me give you some examples. Say you have flights you do not like. I am going to simplify this just so you can see my point of this. What you do want is the direct flight from Paris to Cincinnati!

You would love to take the direct flight but for 325,000 points round trip that is just crazy! Maybe it is due to the fact that there are no seats open on that date. That must be why it is so much:

Oh, well, only one seat sold so far. Hummm… So Delta is clearly gaming us (and they complain that we are gaming them?) since only ONE seat sold; should there not be a few more seats open at 100k low level business? Well ok, it takes two to tango they say right.

Now keep in mind you can have up to 4 legs each way without Delta IT adding more points and making it two tickets. Let’s say you can only find seats from CDG to DTW to CVG at low level. OK, then why not see if you can find a low level seat from CDG – NYC – ATL – DTW – CVG. Try to get the flights as tight as you can book and out as far as you can. Again, if PM+ you can keep calling again and again to find better flights. If you happen to have a change so that the flights don’t work, just pick the direct flight for no extra points or cost that you wanted in the first place.

Clearly you can see the value of attaining Platinum Medallion status with Delta. It does make it a little simpler to get seats and it does give you the tools and options to get what Delta does not want to give you!- René

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  1. I am a Diamond and I do something similar in that I will focus on the transatlantic legs if I am going to Europe.In January I went to AMS. I found DTW-AMS over and AMS-ATL back in Business. My home airport is RSW. I booked RSW-DTW-AMS-ATL. There was not a low level seat from ATL to RSW when I booked. About three weeks later an economy seat opened up and I added it on. I was later cleared to First on that leg. I have never paid more than low level for a business ticket to Europe or Asia by doing that although one time I had to buy a cheap one way leg for a positioning flight.

  2. I got $400 x 2 for ouur tickets on Pinnacle last week MEM to CVG. She started at $300 when I said I had to check with my girlfriend she went straight to $400. she said she could not give me 1st class but we were made Skypriority and got it on the DCA to CVG leg. Cost us extra 3 hours for $800.00.

    Also – switch all my Hilton trips to Starwood starting March first. I thing it could be a nice deal for everyone all around.

  3. Great post Rene! And love the CVG – CDG example 🙂

    Thanks for more insight into this. I’m a silver medallion so I think I really need to work on getting a higher status to take advantage of this stuff ASAP!

  4. I have found it becoming more and more difficult to bump 🙁
    I am frustrated
    I could have bumped in sept JFK to Phoenix but yes not for $200.00 which I was offered

  5. Thanks for the tip. Never completely thought this through. I need to burn some miles in 2013 for some big trips. Have alot of Delta miles.

  6. Do you know what is going on with the blocking of Air France Business Class awards?

    I live in Seattle, have 400,000 Skymiles between 2 accounts but no status, and have been wishing for 4 Business class tickets on the nonstop flights to Paris or Amsterdam, which are almost never available at low level. Sometimes I can see 4 Business class seats on the Air France flight from LAX to CDG, yet I cannot find the same availability on the Delta site. We could split up if need be, but even with 2 seats, the connections I find have really long layovers in Salt Lake City or Detroit. I can’t find the 4 leg connections that would be conducive to schedule changes! I wish I could. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  7. @Heather – this can be done but will take work. You are correct that both KLM and AF are not playing nice right now. I would get ready to spend hours with a good rep. Have them find the 4 seats over the water from anywhere to CDG and then work back to your home. – Rene

  8. We booked 2 Bus seats from Atl to CDG for 100000 each on AF with stops in Lisbon and Madrid, all in Bus and flying BE on Delta on our return but booked back in Sept

  9. Rene, have you ever gotten burned by picking a 4-leg set of flights, and *not* having any of the legs change, so you are not eligible to switch to the direct flight, and not having the desk ever find your desired flights at low points level, and you end out stuck with your original 4-leg nightmare? That’s what worries me!

  10. @Ken – I have never gotten stuck, BUT, I book 300+ days out. And, if I ever would get stuck, that is fine too, as I love to fly and “BUMPERTUNITES” are just great (just more chances to get a bump). 😉

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