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Always, always, always remember Delta computers work against you – not for you when booking an award tickets.

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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.


the delta cpus do not work for you they work against you

If it did not make blood boil out of my ears I should start an award booking service for SkyMiles. But, that is why I have ADAM and can let him “enjoy” the fun of booking with Delta.

Let me break down what could be a Rookie Wednesday post but just had to pop this up today after my many hours of “fun” with Delta and what to learn.

I am reasonably knowledgeable of how to book Delta awards having earned and burned many millions of them over the years. I follow my own advice (see E7 posts) about looking for seats point-to-point, that is, leg-by-leg to see what inventory REALLY is open.

Now is the point the “Matrix” or Delta.dumb comes into play. I really should not be “that” hard on the poor Delta IT folks because the frustratingly broken part of Delta.dumb is not their fault but comes down to them from the mothership in the form of revenue management folks trying to extract max points from your SkyMiles account for every trip. While we, on the other hand, try to get LEVEL 1 seats only for each flight.

So this results in calling and having a rep tell you the computers are no longer setup to work “this way”, that is, plugging in leg by leg, but yet they still do – sometimes. Sometimes it just takes them plugging them in and seeing “what the system prices at”. Sometimes it will work, you get the nice surprised voice on the other end of the phone, and you get what you want. Other times, you get just nasty point results.

Then there are phantoms in the machine. That is, phantom award space and you are going to see this more and more as Delta keeps adding partners that can be booked on Delta.com. Let me give you an example of my recent booking “joy”!

I am going to the Caribbean for my 28th wedding anniversary this winter. I want to fly business class on points. That will run me at LEVEL 1 award pricing 60,000 points round trip. Pricing using Delta.dumb it could find some seats from my area but, get this, it was routing me via Brazil and then back up to the Caribbean on GOL that does not “really” have business class seats and it is about 5 hours back up from there. No thanks, but an option at LEVEL 1. On the return, same thing, but the space was phantom, that is, when you go to buy it says “these seats just sold out”.

Here is the deal and I have done this now many times. Delta cannot show space, to you and to the reps, and then not have it. That is basically bait-and-switch pricing. When that happens Delta will match the price in points on Delta metal jets (they cannot force or over sell LEVEL 1 space on partners). Delta did this for me and even changed the day of travel as Delta did not fly the day there was space on GOL coming back.

But then I started the way I should have started in the first place, that is, leg by leg. I found LEVEL one space direct from Atlanta to the Caribbean but the problem was my connection to South Bend, on the return, required an overnight (LEVEL 1 coach was open the next day). Not a problem for me as I am happy to spend a night at the Westin ATL location (just a nice SPG hotel for 4k SPG points)! But the Delta computers would not price it out correctly with that overnight. I called and the rep simply plugged in the two segments and it spit out the correct price and we booked it. Had I not been an elite they should waive the phone booking fees for this as you can no longer use the multi-city tool on Delta.dumb as that has been broken by Delta.

Bottom line, I was able to get the entire trip booked and did end up spending 7,500 points more than LEVEL 1 round trip each to fly out of South Bend over Kalamazoo as this trip will be in the middle of winter and the extra 45-ish minutes of driving saved was worth a few extra points (and not having to fly to Brazil on the way there)!

So always remember, Delta.com works against you, not for you. You must fight to extract value. If you want to save yourself the hassle, and a possible brain embolism, then please do me a favor and reach out to ADAM for help. He, and his team, really are “that good”! – Rene

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.

10 Comments

  1. So if the website shows availability at the low level on a partner airline but it really doesn’t exist, Delta has to honor the price on DL metal? I’m seeing this often where I go to book (enter all the Passenger info) and get the error message that the seats are sold out. Also, what happens when DL doesn’t fly that route?

    • @MikeO – They don’t “have to” but they tend to because they don’t want clips of your failed booking showing up on YouTube along with quotes from Delta people saying they also see the seats should be there. If Delta does not fly the route you can maybe find another route and match the price from A-B. Clear?

  2. claire cates Reply

    Question. 3 days ago I tried to book a first class ticket with miles to Spain. I went to pay and after all the work, “it’s no longer available” but each time I searched it was. I called, they saw the same price but couldn’t get it to purchase either. – partner airline availability -. Are you saying they would match the price on Delta metal?

    • @Clair Cates – That is EXACTLY what I am say. They will (or should that is) “over sell” the LEVEL 1 space on Delta metal.

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  4. I’m so glad it’s not just me. I fell for this (and booked the higher mileage route) after 2 tries to get to Europe and at the time to pay it said “just sold”. I was so mad, but I thought it was just my bad luck. I should have known it was DL shenanigans. Of course. What crooks.

  5. dotti cahill Reply

    this is so true!!!! and whaqt was happening on sunday???was there a pilot slowdown!!!!!! many flights from atl were delayed for hours??? and weather WAS NOT THE PROBLEM

  6. I stopped flying Delta because they are a ripoff. For a business class seat to Narita they wanted $9k or 300k miles. I got a flat bed business class seat on another airline headquartered in another country for $4700. Worst thing that ever happened to the U.S. airline industry was allowing all these mergers creating price fixing monopolies

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