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A Quick reminder about Delta’s hopelessly broken booking page

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

A reader, let’s call him Bob, sent me this the other day in part:

“I am showing a number of “low” level awards, but when I click through, it shows either 32,500, or 40,000 for the flights. I’ve triple checked this with different combinations, and I’m still getting the error.”

Bob, you are not the only one to see this. For those not tortured familiar with the frustratingly broken Delta award booking page, this is an all too common occurrence (and our CEO knows it too).

Not just the “error” you got, but many times when you toss in KLM or AF, that do show low level seats until the very-last-page, when all of a sudden it changes and says:

“We’re sorry. One or more of the flights you selected just sold out. Please search again to view and select alternate flights. ” – Really?!

Then, you go back and search again and the same low level seats are back again. So you try again, same results will happen to you. Grrrr!

So just what is going on here? First in Bob’s example, the Delta site often does NOT display seats properly. What you have to do, as you can see by the E7 posts in the Essentials Tab, is search segment by segment for the low level seats. Then, going to the multi- leg page, put them in one by one and you should be able to book and see the low or mid or whatever ticket you are trying to book

Now on to the next example with KLM. There are many times KLM is sending incorrect or non-released seats to Delta.com. If you get a good rep (you can try the Asian reps if non-medallion see E9 in the Essentials Tab) they can often request from KLM or grab one seat then request the second one. There are ways to get this done if the rep is willing to work for it, but most of the time YOU cannot do this on Delta.com.

There is a ton of value with Skymiles but Delta sure does make it hard to extract that value; it is good we are smart and are willing to do the work it takes to get that value out! – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Rene, interesting subject. It seems to me that not only the award booking engine has well-known problems. The revenue booking engine also has problems.
    In the search form there is that question “What’s more important to you?”
    When choosing “Price” it happens that you find flights with certain fare classes and a certain total price. And then, when clicking the button “Enter Passenger Info”, one gets the error message “Unable to Process”.
    This happened to me lots of times since Friday, since I thought I’d found great flights for an acceptable price.
    Today I called Delta to book the flights on the phone. Well, the agent got totally different fare classes, and thus a price I didn’t like. So I cancelled.
    Now I tried the same search with the option “Schedule”.
    And voila, I got the same price the agent on the phone got. I clicked on “Enter Passenger Info” … and it worked! Of course I did not book because of the high price. But another lesson learned. Use “Schedule” to search for flights, try a zillion different itineraries, and hopefully find something acceptable.
    Sorry, a bit lengthy, but I thought, I’d share that with you.

  2. The ‘broken award search engine’ is the primary reason I am cutting back on paid Delta flights for my trips.

    I am flying more on UA. Fewer non-stop domestic flights, but the miles I earn are far, far easier to use.

  3. Anderson talks about “internet transparency” then trots his awful search engine. He knows full well that it’s garbage yet continues to pay only lip service to fixing it. I prefer DAL for myriad reasons but I wish he would be honest and say he allows this search engine to exist in its’ current form to baffle, confuse, and eventually frustrate customers into either overpaying(sometimes severely) with Pesos or simply buying a ticket and allowing easily earned points(AMEX bonuses) to remain stagnant.
    He is talking out of both sides of his mouth. It seems only the most savvy users can extract true value from Sky Miles and he knows it.
    AA and especially UA have far superior UI’s, it’s embarassing for DAL.

    • @Geoff – The only thing I don’t 100% agree with you on is the AA is better. Yes better space yes but I am still fighting with my self it that is the top factor if an airline is better. As you say, we both prefer DAL but wish other bits were not as they are. My thanks for your comment! – Rene

  4. I don’t like the AA site much either but it tells you how bad I believe DAL’s is and I’m a Delta fan!

  5. Being in the Southeast, I’d love to fly Delta, but at the end of the day if I can’t actually use the miles I earn, it’s a non-starter.

  6. AlohaDaveKennedy Reply

    It seems like Delta’s booking page is working perfectly as intended. Delta’s booking page is the model of perfection over in Bizarro World.

  7. I think the travel calendar is a particularly broken part of the website (I know, it’s a contest). Earlier this year when booking a trip NYC-Rome next October the calendar showed all but one date in the month only having medium or high award level availability, but when I searched day by day I found low level seats available not only on Alitalia but on Delta on a number of days. Altho a working Award Travel Calendar would be helpful, I suggest ignoring the current one…

  8. Christine Austin Reply

    But, Rene, it is absolutely abhorrent to me that delta knows its search engine doesn’t work. And, why, oh why, should have I have to spend hours booking a 25000 mile award ticket? I guess delta thinks since I spent hours earning those miles, i.e. flying time, that I should spend hours trying to book a flight using those “free” miles. I can’t tell you how many times I have cussed delta while trying to book an award ticket – and I’m usually not going anywhere that is “high” mileage worthy.

  9. Are award tickets refundable if Plat flyer is not the one traveling but books through his/her account for another person?

    • @Mr. H – 100% YES as long as before 72 hrs before flight. My mom last year, book on a ticket FROM Sweden on points, biz class, changed from a 1 month visit to 3 months (due to a pace maker and extended stay). So sure, it is the PM holder who runs the show on award tickets no matter who they are booked for.

  10. This very frustrating, and I see it on non-stops as well as multi-leg trips. Another one that happens frequently is on a normal revenue ticket. After entering departure and return dates, the site pops up a one-way fare, but it’s very easy to miss that little fact. It looks like a great price, and I have known people who went on and booked this “great” low rate, only to find out later it was only one way. I’ve learned not to trust anything I see on the DL web site, good or bad, until I have the ticket in hand. I love living in ATL, but sometimes I wish I had better choices (i.e., more competition for DL) for air travel.

  11. @Delta Points: I appreciate the pointer to your guide, but I guess my question is, what exactly do I gain by going through that involved process over doing what I do now, which is going through UA and their site which works?

    Really now that I think about it more, since I mostly utilize UR points for my travels, if I really want to fly Delta, transferring to Korean Air and then booking Delta might be the easiest option….

  12. Pingback: A secret tip about Skyteam and finding perfect low level seats! - Delta Points

  13. For the second scenario, are there some key words we should ask for? I can see this exact scenario on DL.com, but when I called Singapore call center, she says it just isn’t available.

    I’m not sure whether this matters, but DL.com has a note that says something like “this flight operated by KLMCityHopper”.

  14. Okay, thanks! I’ve only recently become spoiled by your advice to call Asia call centers, with no hold time! NowI dread going back to toll free, but it makes sense that those folks in AMS will be in the office.

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