I’ve written several times that the biggest and worst devaluation of the Delta SkyMiles program only seems to apply to flights that either start or end in the United States. SkyMiles now charges for partner awards, which are all saver awards and limited in availability, as though they were awards on Delta. That’s how you can get over 500,000 miles one way for a coach award between the U.S. and Thailand.
But if you start a trip in Mexico, you’re effectively rolling back to the last devaluation where partner awards are merely super expensive. And this creates an opportunity. There are going to be some people who are willing, for instance, to fly to Mexico City to start their award trip if it means saving a couple hundred thousand miles. But even if you’re not willing to do that, there’s a way to use this to your advantage.
Throwaway ticketing now makes sense when booking award travel with SkyMiles.
Book, for instance, Paris – Atlanta – Mexico City and get off in Atlanta. Don’t take that last Aeromexico flight from Atlanta to Mexico City. You’ll pay the old award pricing, not the new award pricing this way.
I drafted something about this in February but decided not to publish. It seemed like that would be taunting Delta. But it’s now been covered by Thrifty Traveler which is one of the most read travel sites and which has a heavy Delta emphasis (and thus the attention of Delta executives). So I thought it made sense for everyone to be able to book this way while the opportunity still exists.
But one sneaky way to fly business class to or from North America has escaped unscathed … for just 75,000 to 95,000 SkyMiles each way to almost anywhere on the globe. And it involves flying out of (or into) Mexico – namely, Mexico City (MEX).
That’s why a one-way flight in Delta One Suites on the nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD) might cost you 410,000 SkyMiles or more…But by starting your search (and your trip) in Mexico City, you can score the same private suite … for just 95,000 SkyMiles on the exact same long-haul flight to Australia.
If you’re concerned with throwaway ticketing, where you do not use all of the segments on your ticket,
- It’s a relatively good enough deal compared to flying to and from the U.S. with SkyMiles that you might actually fly to and from Mexico. Plus, it can be worth a visit! If only for the food!
- Historically there has not been much risk with a single throwaway segment. Maybe you even had a hotel reservation there you intended to keep but had to cancel at the last minute!
- Throwaways are more challenging domestically with checked bags, since your bags go to your final ticketed destination. But in most U.S. airports you collect your bags when you arrive on U.S. soil and then re-check them to your connecting destination. However inline international-to-international connections on a U.S. carrier may not involve collecting bags and bringing them through customs yourself and dropping them back off. (As always, be careful with checked bags and throwaway ticketing.)
- Sure there’s a risk of irregular operations, that the airline might schedule you to your destination via another connecting city if your first flight cancels. But I’ve never had a problem asking for the same routing (it might just mean waiting for the next flight on that route which could be, say, the next day).
The point about Mexico City isn’t actually unique. Delta has obliterated award pricing to and from the U.S. but hasn’t totally adjusted pricing when traveling the rest of the world without touching the U.S. Delta SkyMiles is, ironically, are a more useful currency for passengers outside the U.S. than those who are here.