Rookie Sunday: How to avoid the Delta SkyMiles IT pitfalls that rob you of your SkyMiles!

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.

This “may” work with money – with SkyMiles – really not so much!

Delta says: “Book better. Fly better” on If you click on the little circle check mark on any of the booking pages it brings up the cute marketing info page you see above. But when it comes to SkyMiles awards, the above is not even remotely true.

RRIIIIIGGGT – Uh, no Delta. Really no!

Delta even wants you to flush the value of your SkyMiles down the drain on absurdly ridiculous things like:

  • Drinks in the Sky Club (that should be free)
  • Delta PVT jet rides at bat crazy prices
  • Seat upgrades (that should be medallion free)
  • Paying change fees (that other airlines don’t charge)
  • Gift cards resulting in 7/10ths cent SkyMiles value
  • Even sometimes charge you to change coach seats

….and on and on. Delta wants you to NOT get max value from your SkyMiles. In other words, not just from booking awards. We should always endeavor to find tickets at Level 1 prices per the award charts (or maybe Level 2 if you must). Even better when they have their monthly flash sale. OK basic stuff – ignore the PR fluff and focus on awards.

Can you really trust what you see?

But then we have to deal with the award booking page. We need to understand, much like Delta trying to fool you into burning your miles on worthless things, the award booking page is broken and they like it that way. It often:

  • Shows bad information i.e. false numbers page 1
  • Will not sort the flights in the cheapest order
  • Even if you sort in lowest order, it may not show that
  • Sometimes hides lower awards on page 2
  • Overcharges as 2 tickets when partners are included

So let’s look at these bugs, or as Delta likely calls them features, of the award page. The first one is really simple but maddening (like all of these issues).

Oh look – Level 1 prices!

If you look at the month search page you will see 86,000 is the lowest price for a one-way. Per the Delta award charts (used, but not published) that is a Level 2 award price but something funny can happen when you click to check on what flights are open to you at that price – they price out at Level 1! Yep, the first search page is yielding wrong data. Good for us but we need to know this can happen so in this case burn some extra time and clicks to see if the price is what it says it is.

I like paying less – you?

The next one is, on I think every single travel site on the planet, a no brainer – that is, the default first display is priced from low to high. does not do this. They show you the “Best Match” first. Folks, what Delta revenue management feels is the best is never ever what I feel is the best – that is, the lowest price to fly that day in the class of service I want. Even if I do not like the flights, as long as I book far enough out, there will be a schedule change Saturday event that will at some point let me change for free to the flights I really want.

Next one is tied to the sort by lowest price issue. One would think that when you change the drop down choice from Delta’s best match to price it would put all the lowest price choices at the top but you would be wrong. Many times the lowest price may be much lower down the page and out of order – Delta IT at it’s finest. Just again take the time to scroll down the page and look for yourself before you select flights.

Now this is just sneaky mean, Delta!

One more dirty little game Delta plays, and maybe related to the lowest price is not always on top bug, is the fact that many times the lowest price award can be “hidden” if you will on page 2 or 3. After step 1, search and check the main search page and step 2, sort by price then you must step 3, look at all the flights all on one page and search them all to make sure the lowest price is being shown to you. Yes, it is sad and maddening Delta tries to game you in award ticket prices this way but keep in mind what was first shown on this post – they do not want you to get real value out of your miles!

Should I really pay twice Delta?

The last one is much harder now than it once was. You see all Delta partner awards (excluding Delta connection) always show at Level 1 award prices or they do not show at all. Now most folks who are not suffering from some kind of brain disorder will assume if you find a Level 1 Delta award and connect to a partner Level 1 award the two should, like if you paying for this with cash, price as one ticket not 2 tickets. But in Deltaland, many times, this prices as 2 separate tickets. Is there a workaround? In the past it was a simple thing to call and have human eyes see the issue and fix it. Now, thanks again to Delta IT and reps not willing or able to help you, it is much harder. Work at it or only select all Delta partners for your award. Example, a KLM>KLM award vs. a Delta>KLM award to make sure you are not over paying.

So there you are. These are most of the games Delta plays with us when it comes to pricing and SkyMiles awards. I am sure there are more you have seen in your joyous efforts to gain value from your SkyMiles. If so, please share them in the comments below. Lastly, if all of these silly games are too much for you to take – remember ADAM and his team are ready to take the frustration away and can help you book an award at the lowest level possible! – René



  1. Rene,

    do you find that the Diamond Desk agents are better about being able to book Delta and partner segments as one ticket?

  2. rene

    @David R – Thanks. Working with my host to get that fixed.

Write A Comment