Delta Opens the Award Availability Floodgates to London from Nearly All US Gateways

God Save the Points shares with me that Delta SkyMiles is offering fantastic premium cabin award availability between the US and London.

That’s not surprising, but it is noteworthy.

It is ironic that Delta devalued their secret award chart without notice considering that the program is moving to be more revenue-based not just on accrual and elite status qualifying but also on the redemption side. That should suggest falling award prices not rising award prices in a weak revenue environment. But tails they win, heads we lose.

Nonetheless, with the strong expectation of unsold seats, Delta’s revenue management is making plenty of seats available as awards.

Here are searches for 4 passengers non-stop in business class on Delta flights (one caveat is that Delta-only searches do not always limit you to Delta flights, and I haven’t verified that these are all Delta versus the occasional Virgin Atlantic-operated flight, which many would prefer in any case).

New York JFK – London Heathrow in late winter:

But there’s availability for summer, too. For instance here’s New York JFK – London Heathrow at the end of schedule:

It’s worth noting that availability doesn’t only get good after January 1 when the price goes up, either. Here’s what the availability calendar for four looks like on the New York – London route before the increase:

Delta has frequently had good London availability out of its New York JFK hub. But what about the other hubs? Even their fortress in Atlanta, where you have an incredibly concentrated base of frequent flyers clamoring for award seats and little competition with other programs, you’re seeing 4 business class seats. Here’s Atlanta – London Heathrow:

Detroit – London looks similarly good:

Their other legacy Northwest Airlines hub, Minneapolis, has great availability to London:

At Northwest they used to say of the Upper Midwest ‘it’s good, it’s dark and no one wants to go there… but it’s all our!’ You’d think they wouldn’t need to offer much award availability because of their concentrated strength. But to London right now it’s easy.

I previously wrote about great award availability on Virgin Atlantic once they take over Seattle – London from Delta (Delta owns 49% of Virgin). Delta’s got great availability prior to the handover as well:

If there’s one city it’s tough to get award space out of with Delta, it’s Salt Lake City. There’s little competition up there. They have tons of frequent flyers. And there aren’t many international flights. But Salt Lake City – London is an exception, albeit with less generous space than the other hubs.

Non-hub flying offers space too, here’s Boston – London:

Delta is doing a lot more flying to London than even they realize it seems, since their website says they fly to only 5 cities from the UK.

I bet not too many people realize Delta flies Philadelphia – London with a Boeing 757. That’s the toughest flight to get 4 business class awards on, but those awards do exist.

The only route where there’s almost no business class availability for four or more passengers is their new seasonal Portland – London Heathrow non-stop which launches in late May.

This is much better availability than we’ve been seeing from American Airlines, and though Delta charges 140,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Europe for January 1 travel onward as long as you’re booking a roundtrip originating in the US you aren’t going to pay fuel surcharges on your trip (Delta does add scam charges to European departures, so don’t book these trips as one ways).

This contrasts with American Airlines charging 115,000 miles roundtrip, but rarely making seats available on their own flights and adding fuel surcharges to awards on their primary transatlantic partner British Airways.

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. Delta claims Boston is a hub…

    “Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 15,000 daily flights, with key hubs and markets including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Tokyo-Narita.”

  2. Any reason Virgin doesn’t expand their Europe connector flights? I feel like they fly to more destinations in the US than Europe. It’s great if u want to go to London….but connecting on them is tough

  3. Gary: Are these one way or round trip fares: I just searched DTW-LHR for May-June and saw “Lowest fare 140,000 miles” for round trip. That’s no bargain.

  4. Gary: OK, now I’m completely confused. I used the iPad Delta app for my search in the above post and gots the results stated. I then used the web browser and found award availability DTW-LHR on the same dates for 60,000 miles round trip plus $183.46. Both searches were for a party of two.

    What gives?

  5. @retiredlawyer Delta’s IT annoyingly reverts to main cabin when you complete a second search. I am quite sure you’re getting the 30,000 per person Saver economy level : ( 70k for business is nice though on any date. Cheers.

  6. My big question to delta and their variable award pricing, and it was raised in the article, is if ticket prices keep falling to ridiculously low amounts (especially for mid week departures), shouldnt award prices fall way below their current level?

    Of course the question is rhetoric, we all know the answer, and i hope foreign carriers would have plenty of opportunities to provide competition even domestically. So much for freedom when all the airlines care about is their own bottom line, even by taking unscrupulous approach, at the expense of customers, while offering much less than foreign airlines. We’ve seen how protectionism works in cable/internet providers for ages. It only happens in the US. The internet packages offered here are pathetic. Even in labor too. Keeping a job is not an incentive enough that people expect free hand outs in the form of tips else they dont do their job? I am so sick of this.

  7. Ridiculously expensive! I used 70K delta miles earlier this year to fly to India on Virgin.. and the lhr-del flight is longer than jfk-lhr! Delta prices 80K to Asia at the saver level.. Much better use of miles… you can get cheap business class fares to Europe many times of the year…

  8. Glad to hear that DL (like AA last year) has opened the floodgates on TATL saver C award inventory to LHR. But the 140k price is not competitive as noted by Retired Lawyer and winter is a traditionally slow travel period to Europe, so it’s not a huge sacrifice for DL. Good luck finding inventory for summer awards to LHR, particularly for a family of 4. This is where AA previously shined, having “opened the floodgates” several times last year for C to LHR for 100k RT.

    It is too bad the CPFB does not have jurisdiction over FF programs, as I think we’d see an end to the secret award charts and other nonsense. But USDOT is clearly afraid to touch this area…

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