A secret tip about Skyteam and finding perfect low level seats!

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I may get yelled at for posting this one but I am pressing ahead anyway (I tend to save tips like this for events like the Chicago Seminars).

Delta has very specific rules about schedule change (as we all should know by now) as well as what is a legal connection. International connection times, on this side, are hard to work around, but still not impossible to tweak. Having said that, we also know Skyteam members are not getting along all that well plus the fact that the EU rules for say a delayed flight are much different than over here in “the colonies”.

So here is my tip. Delta cannot FORCE their partners to give up space on a later flight if it does not show low level award space. That is if say business class is open on a noon flight, but not on a 4pm flight then there is NOTHING Delta can say or do to force this to happen. Or is there?

If you can get Delta to book (or rebook) an arrival “over there” with say only a 45 min or even better 35 min connection, a legal connection many times in Delta computers, then what will often happen after the ticket is reissued is that the Skyteam partner will see this change and their computers will say…

YIKES – we don’t want to pay a voucher for a miss connection or worse and you will be automatically rebooked to the later flight.

Here is where it gets really fun. Delta says, per the schedule change rule, if you have a more than 1 hour change in your departure or arrival you can change to just about anything you want, but only on the Delta metal side of the trip. But, the partner change lets you then change the Delta side all you want to the perfect flights. So this can be a way to “game” the Skyteam side to help you on the Delta side too.

Now I know all of you are saying none of this would be necessary if the Delta award booking calendar were not so hopelessly broken and Skyteam was not acting like a dysfunctional step family and I agree with you. But until that day arrives this is one more possible way to get the perfect flights all at low level award availability albeit in a convoluted kind of way!- René

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  1. I will try to summarize: book flights with 35-45 minutes layovers in Europe, wait for partner airline to automatically re-book you onto later flight, call Delta and complain that you will arrive more than 1 hour later, Delta will re-book you on DL metal regardless of award availability. Do I have it right?

  2. Moral: Book the absolute tightest connection on DAL(anywhere, esp. CDG or ATL)) and wait for a small change. Boom: Instant changes for the entire day. As far as I’m concerned this a great DAL perk, status or not.

  3. This is a new angle, that I didn’t know about. Although I don’t think Rene was mainly focused on schedule changes, they are a huge part of this strategy as well; I think it’s TPG who talks a lot about booking flights with 3+ segments; if it’s 4-6+ months ahead you are basically guaranteed a schedule change on at least one segment, causing a mis-connect (or a 2+ hour connection), and then DL will bend over backwards to rebook. I did this ATL-IAD-AMS-CPT; and sure enough KLM changed schedule, so DL booked me on the non-stop ATL-AMS, and I was spared the IAD connection altogether.

  4. @Jim – yes exactly. There are so many times you can pick a flight that would cost 200,000 Skymiles direct but you switched for free and booked at 100,000k!

  5. When this happens, can you change routing, or do your post-schedule-change legs need to be the same as your pre-schedule-change legs? In other words, can you use this to not only get a better time, but get better routings? Can you switch to a different partner airline?

  6. @Dobro – yes you can change the route but NOT the departure city (most times) nor the arrival. You can NOT change partners or partner flights ONLY all the Delta ones.

  7. Genius, Rene!

    Now, what type of connection would we need to book to prompt a similar series of events on an airport change (e.g. SEA -> HND, NRT -> SGN)? Also,would travel with two children under the age of 5 (making us pre-boarders) send up any flags to indicate that we need more time for connections?

  8. Do you need to book a low-level ticket initially or can it be any level (medium, high) and the schedule change will re-book you at low-level regardless of initial mileage cost?

  9. Excellent post Rene. Thanks for your creativity.
    This will work very well through CDG where they rate 45 mins as a legal connection. As I’m sure you know, it can take 45 mins just to get to the shuttle area, let alone arrive at a different terminal.

  10. I am just getting started with Delta. Can you elaborate more on ‘The key is to get the change going so you can tinker even more! 😉 ‘

    How would you continue tinkering even more?

  11. @aegt – this is a bit of a 2 step. as in the post, if you can get booked or rebooked as talked about and a big change happens then you can tinker on the USA side of things.

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