Delta Fixes Partner Award Booking and Improves Korean Air Availability in a Big Way

For the past week Delta’s website would not show any award availability on their airline partners if you searched one way. That was a glitch, not a new featured introduced without notice (I figured as much but would not have bet money). We know this because the glitch has been fixed. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

Here’s the award calendar for Los Angeles – Sydney business class in November:

And here’s a Korean Air business class itinerary that comes back as an option when searching one-way:

But that’s not even the best change. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important change. But as long as you knew about the glitch you could work around it.. such as by searching roundtrip and then calling to book (and then sometimes hanging up and calling again… and again… and again… because these are Delta agents you’d have been calling).

The best change is something they’ve quietly done to their terms and conditions.

Some programs like Korean Air’s Skypass have ‘high demand’ dates where awards cost more miles than usual. On those dates Korean does make award seats available, but Delta members don’t have access to those seats. These are blackout dates in Delta’s program.

For years Delta has actually gone to a much greater extreme than necessary here — Korean designates different dates as ‘high demand’ for different regions of the world. Delta’s policy has been that any day that is high demand for any region is a blackout date for every region.

And back in May they enshrined that into the SkyMiles terms and conditions.

But then yesterday the terms and conditions changed again and Delta finally broke out Korean Air blackout dates for different regions of the world. So instead of blacking out all Korean flights for a third of the year, they apply specific dates to specific regions you might be flying from.

Here’s a clean version of the new blackout dates:

So there are now dates that used to be blacked out for Korean Air redemption but that you can now book. For instance, there’s now availability between Christmas and New Years for Los Angeles – Seoul.

And indeed dates that shouldn’t have ever been blacked out tend to have pretty good availability!

So call this one a positive change for SkyMiles, albeit correcting an injustice in the program that’s gone on for years and shouldn’t ever have been there in the first place.

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. “It’s an ingenious solution to a problem that never should have existed in the first place.” -James May to Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear S09E06 – stretch limos.

  2. What a nice surprise. Typically when Delta “fixes” something it makes you want to grab a mob of angry peasants, some axes, hoes and pitchforks and storm the castle bastian.

  3. Does KE block award seats to their partners? I searched for the ICN-ATL flights on Korean Air website and there are availability everyday from Jan 12-28, 2016 (off-peak period.) However, both Delta and Alaska websites do not show the flight as available.

  4. @tom – read the chart, that is a peak period departing from Asia. Atl to Icn would not be peak.

  5. @Albert No, it’s not. The blackouts are Jan 1-3 and then Feb 5-10. Jan 12-28 is totally off-peak.

  6. Gary, Any tips / tricks for getting Virgin Australia business availability between LAX – SYD? I’ve been reading everything I can find to no avail. I’m trying to schedule a 25th anniversary trip in March/April ’17. Thx, KC

  7. @KC there’s occasionally bits of availability but most of it recently has been within a couple of weeks of departure

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