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
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