Delta Brings Back Air France Business Class Awards and Eliminates Some Fuel Surcharges

Quietly and against all conventional wisdom Delta has been making some positive changes to their frequent flyer program and to their website used to search for award space.

Back in May they added searching for Virgin Australia award space to their website. Virgin Australia offers better award availability than anyone else between the US and Australia (without connecting in Asia), and exceptionally so on their Los Angeles – Brisbane flight. It’s a good business class seat, too, often available in prime holiday season as well. Delta also stopped billing fuel surcharges on these awards. Do not rely on Delta’s award calendar to find the space, search it day by day for the dates you are interested in.

About a week ago Delta began allowing Korean Air awards to be searched at That’s huge because you couldn’t search the space online anywhere else, even the Korean Air website requires having enough miles in an account to search for an award. And because Korean Air has excellent award availability. Back in July Delta started adding fuel surcharges to Korean Air awards but has since stopped.

Last month Delta completely stopped offering business class award space on Skyteam partner Air France through the end of May 2013.

However, Delta appears to allow booking of Air France business class award space again. Here are two Air France flights from Atlanta to Paris in business class, as shown on the Delta website:

In fact, the award calendar even seems to be working, showing low (green) award inventory in business class for this Atlanta-Paris route in February:

Here it is on my go-to Houston-Paris route as well:

And as Ben pointed out yesterday, Delta stopped charging fuel surcharges for Delta flights when an award starts in Europe. This doesn’t affect most US members, but for members in Europe this was huge — Delta figured they could hit members with huge surcharges because European programs did the same (even though other US programs did not). But for some reason — and for Delta flights only — they’ve stopped doing that.

Here’s a Delta award originating in Europe, no fuel surcharges.

Sadly, taking Air France from Europe to the US still incurs fuel surcharges.

You’ll see above that the one-way Air France flight costs $240 more than flying Delta on the same route, because the international origination surcharge still applies when booking Air France but not when booking Delta.

Taken together these changes are making Delta miles more valuable and easier to use.

There’s still a long way to go if anyone is comparing the value of Delta miles with miles in the US Airways or Alaska program let alone the United or American ones. They do not allow one-way awards for half the price like United and American do. They do not allow international first class awards like those other four programs do. Award space on Delta flights as opposed to partners is still very tough to get, you can often find international business class flights on partners but finding seats on Delta to get to the international gateway city can be the biggest challenge. My top 12 complaints about the Skymiles program were outlined in my debate with The Points Guy back in April.

But I appreciate the improved website functionality, the reduced fuel surcharges, and especially the return of Air France business class award space very much!

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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  1. Last night I noticed AF YYZ-CDG also opened up. Now if they would just open up KLM YYZ-AMS, I could actually like Delta for international travel (but i still think of Skypesos when I try to book ANY domestic award…..)

  2. If I’m flying USA-India could I buy (or use miles from another program without huge surcharges) roundtrip USA-Europe then use Skymiles for Europe-India?

    ….or would that just be a big waste?

  3. @jon sure you can but why not just book the award all the way to india? try searching for space on saudia if nothing is available on air france or klm

  4. @Gary-Thanks. Typed it out before taking 3 minutes to think it through. Roundtrip is way cheaper on all award tickets compared to 2 different itineraries.

  5. Not totally convinced that DL has access to AF awards. The Classic awards showing up on do NOT sync with There may be some anomalies out there. Premature. I think.

  6. Until the past few days they didn’t have ANY access to Air France business class space at all — until June. That much has changed.

  7. Perhaps the DL “customer giveback” for the partial elimination in fuel surcharge-type amounts on some mileage tickets will be reminiscent of what AA has done TATL: cut back on availability on its own metal (at the more traditional mileage price level) and marry that with charging fuel surcharges on its primary two TATL European partner airlines regardless of ticketed origin (in countries that don’t regulate fuel surcharges).

  8. All the JFK-CDG itineraries — both on DL and AF — I’m looking at show ~$130 in taxes/fees, not the $2.50 that you show in your screenshot. Am I doing something wrong?

  9. NM. Thing I got it. You’re just showing one-way in the post? I assume the extra $100 is for departing CDG?

  10. @Gary Why do you think DL has chosen not to mention these positive enhancements (for once I don’t have to put the word enhancements in quotes!)

  11. As a data point, I was able to find ample seats on ATL/CDG/JFK-CDG this morning. Now, all availability is gone.

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