Delta Adds Two Middle East Partners to Online Award Booking, Makes Their CEO’s Head Explode?

Delta, whose CEO publicly called for the US government to crack down on flights to the US by Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, because 9/11 has brought two more of its partners onto for online award booking:

  • Saudia which flies from Washington Dulles, New York JFK, and Los Angeles to Riyadh and Jeddah (and beyond). Each flight is non-daily, award space is pretty good though not as amazing as it once was, and represents a way to use SkyMiles to get from the US to India, Pakistan, and surrounding areas in business class on points.
  • Middle East Airlines which is the Beirut-based carrier flying mostly regional routes.

(HT: Delta Points)

Back in November Delta finally created a functional award calendar.

Delta has since added a ton of their partners to the website for online booking over the past three months: China Southern, China Eastern, China Airlines, Gol, Aerolineas Argentinas, Garuda Indonesia plus Aeroflot and Vietnam Airlines.

Although it’s worth noting that you do not always want to book online, for instance Delta adds fuel surcharges to awards originating in Europe regardless of partner airline and prices this correctly on the website. However they do not always properly collect fuel surcharges when booking by phone.

Here are the tricks to booking awards with both of these partners.

Middle East Airlines flies to about a dozen destinations in Europe, four in Africa, and eight in the Gulf region. If a Middle East Airlines flight is operating, it probably has award space.

Booking awards on Saudia is a bit more challenging, since their award space is no longer as wide open as it once was (you used to see 9 business class awards or more on most long haul flights, but they’re no longer as generous). Perhaps as importantly, Saudia’s scheduling is tricky:

  • Saudi flies 4 days a week New York JFK – Jeddah and 3 days a week New York JFK – Riyadh.
  • This is reversed for their DC routes — 4 days Washington Dulles – Riyadh and 3 days Washington Dulles – Jeddah.
  • They fly 3 days a week Los Angeles – Jeddah (the 5th longest flight in the world)

If you’re flying beyond Saudi Arabia you need to line up availability to Riyadh or Jeddah with onward travel from that same airport to your destination (many of their onward flights alternate days between those airports as well).

Saudia has a modern though angled business class (with Ferragamo amenities). You’ll want to check out these trip reports by View from the Wing‘s Pakistani Correspondent:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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