Don’t you just hate it when you find a great deal, find the perfect flights, have entered all your perfect seats even and have your credit card number in and hit purchase and then….
That is, the Delta computers tell you the price has changed or the flights are no longer available or something like that. When this happens what can you do? You really do have a ton of options to get the flights you want and today’s post was inspired by questions I got after posting a bunch of really good Delta elite mileage runs over this weekend. Let’s start with the simple one first that does not always work.
Delta does have a multi-city tool on Delta.com that can, sometimes, find what you want. More often than not it will kick out some kind of error code that the flights cannot be found or this is not possible etc etc. But when it works it is great and a smart place to start. If it works, great. If not, we move on.
The good choice is Google Flights. It really is a powerful tool that will let you put in all kinds of segments and choices and routes and tweak to only show Delta or Skyteam flights and much more. The best part is when it works it just creates a price button and dumps all the flights you want into Delta.com and you book on Delta.com like normal plus you get all the perks of booking “direct” with Delta.com even though you started at Google Flights. Perks, like the fact that Delta likes you better when you book on their site. Or maybe you are using a points card that pays bonus points when booking directly on Delta.com. But it does not always work.
Sometimes you put in the perfect flights and google does not give you a perfect little price button but tells you to book with a travel agent. Hufff! Grrr.. not what we want. Then what?
I am a huge fan of Kayak.com multi segment booking tool. It can work wonders and again it can send you right to Delta just like Google flights and you are then simply booking direct on Delta.com. But sometimes you get this:
You get what Kayak calls a “hack fare”. What is this? I hate the description, but basically it is telling you that you have to book two one-way fares to get the deal. I blogged about this before, as well as the national media, that Delta is often pricing two one-way flights on one reservation higher than the sum of them booked as two one-way flights priced separately. So why not just book two one-ways separately? Well Delta warns you that if you have issues you are not as protected as on just one ticket. That may be true, but I have found Delta willing to be very accommodating if you have had an issue on one Delta flight and cannot make another Delta flight even if they are on two tickets (as compared to another airline then coming to Delta). Just know there can be some risk with many one-way flights. What if none of this works?
Google above told us to use a travel agent. You should know Priceline is a travel agent or OTA, that is, online travel agent. They also have a very useful multi-city pricing tool and can find flights none of the above will. Why will this work when others do not? Maybe the price is changing and has not yet caught up with all the computers network wide – who knows. But if you can get a ticket issued at the price you want that is all that matters. Please be very careful and make sure you put in your SkyMiles number during the booking process (there is a drop down box). What if this does not work? Enter Expedia.
Expedia, another OTA, can sometimes find the deals you are looking for the same way Priceline does but not always. Well let me be more specific:
The US Expedia site may not find the deal you want but the UK version of the Expedia site may find the deal (or close to it with currency conversion). Again, this is going way down the food chain and you will want to make sure you have a ticket issued if you go this route. Plus, use a travel card that does not charge you an international fee for booking in another currency like the GBP in this above example.
I really could go on and on with a number of other examples. I have found when spending FlexPerks points that it can find routes that Delta.com never finds (i.e. connections) or any of the OTAs either. It really strange how that booking site can work.
The key is there are many options online that can be employed to get the deal you want and the route you want. One important warning I have is to make sure none of these dump you into an E BASIC fare class as an elite that restricts your shot at an upgrade. Another is the chance with OTAs that you could somehow end up with a consolidator fare class that could yield less points than expected. The latter is why I always, when I can, try to book on Delta.com.
Lastly I always get the question can I not “force” Delta to book at the lower price I found when I clicked book now on Delta.com? Maybe. It can be a real fight and they do not like doing this. They will tell you the price is no longer available (like Delta.com just told you) and so on. I have had success getting this done but I would try the other digital options first as there is less frustration involved. Also, if all of this seems like way to much work there is always the helpful ADAM if you need him to do what I have shown you above in booking the perfect Elite Delta Mileage Run from your home airport!
Any questions on the above? Fire away in the comments section below on the blog! – René
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