No, you are not seeing things. You are seeing, even after the NASTY 1JUNE16 award changes with Delta that can result in tickets costing you nearly 1 million SkyMiles round trip, a decent amount of LEVEL 1 round trip business class award space to Europe for two people and that even includes many choices that are Delta metal flights (tip: yes, Delta still mostly uses the award charts, they just hide them)!
Now before we dive too far into this, don’t let this lull you into some sort of false expectations that something has changed at the Delta mothership. Look at award space for the same trip next month from Detroit to Amsterdam:
And the only reason you are seeing ANY LEVEL 1 space right now is due to partners like Virgin Atlantic as if you look at the arrows in the two above boxes the tax price tells it all. Expect more of this going forward. Also note the lowest tax is flying Delta metal, the higher taxes are other partners. Also, please NEVER EVER book anything other than LEVEL 1 (or maybe 2) priced awards. It kills me when I get e-mails from readers asking if 195,000 points is a good price for an award to Europe (hint: NO, IT’S NOT)!
But still this is some good news and does work a bit with what Delta has
threatened promised us that space is, to some extent, due to the demand or the revenue price(ish) of the ticket. So, if you are booking a long way out (a.k.a. next summer) the seats should not all be booked up like those who are flying in the next few weeks for one more trip to Europe before school starts for the year. Let’s look at a few more example from DTW, ATL, SLC & LAX to Amsterdam (clearly, check other hubs too):
Now these are all just one way ticket searches so you have to do that same thing for your return dates. You can use the Delta.com search feature to see what pops up for round trip tickets or, like I do most times (see E7 posts), search leg-by-leg and once you find all LEVEL 1 flights call Delta and have them patch them into the trip you want including any less than 24 hour stopovers you may want to take along your route.
Also, if you can stand the taxes, into and out of London and Manchester with Virgin is, most dates, just wide open. Note you can do an open jaw that is into LHR and out of AMS to return if you would like as you see below to save the UK exit taxes:
Should you look at booking this far out? I have and do. I just booked a trip for next summer, all LEVEL 1 business class, out of my home town South Bend. But only do this if:
1) You are a Diamond or Platinum Medallion and can change FREE
2) You are 100% confirmed on your travel dates
3) You are willing to wait for a schedule change (E8) to cancel and redeposit FREE
It really is about flexibility and having points to burn. If you have the choices as a top elite to tinker all you want with flights then there is little downside to booking a trip that should work but can be canceled free if it does not work out. Or, if you know you are going to take the trip no matter what why not lock in LEVEL 1 seats and the lowest tax possible. Or, lastly, you have so many points that if things go wrong and you cannot take the trip that you can simply wait for a big enough schedule change to get your points back free.
Are there other risks booking this far out? Sure, lots but if point savings is worth it to you these are the risks you are willing to take. Many things can go sideways once you book. Like what?
1) Bad schedule changes you don’t want
2) Hotel issues
3) Job, health etc.
There are many times that airlines can make nasty changes to flights, even removing them from the schedule completely. This could mean you arrive MANY hours sooner or later than expected. Most times Delta is very willing to work with you in these cases, but sometimes it is just not possible to “make it all better” so be prepared.
Hotels are the next big joy. I have booked rooms planning on enjoying my elite perks with some hotel like free breakfast and a shot at some amazing suite upgrade. And then the hotel changes brands from one I have top status with to one I have no status with. Not good. And this is just one example. Be ready for alternative hotel plans and know booking this far out that things can go wrong.
The last one is a big one and why flexibility is so important. So much can change in a year regarding your work, your health or 1000 other things that are the “whirlwind” of your life. Understand it could cost you real $$$ to cancel and dump all these plans to get your points back if you do not have the option to cancel for free.
Bottom line, I like booking a long way out. I have booked for next summer. I would, and have, done this even when I had very low Delta status but I would make 100% sure I am set on what I am booking in that case.
As I always say, points are not like fine wine: they do NOT get better with age. Burn them, my friends! Burn them!
If all of this is too confusing and you need some help, always know ADAM is standing by for you. – René
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