Ignore Delta’s Award Availability Calendar, There’s Great Business Class Space to Europe, Here’s How to Find It

Alitalia’s business class award availability between the US and Italy is really good. And their business class product is much improved, too.

But if you believe Delta.com, the award calendar is going to make you think there’s nothing available.

Here’s a search at Delta.com for two business class seats, New York – Rome, in June. It’s all blue which means high level awards only.

The entire month, which means 162,500 miles each way or 325,000 miles roundtrip per person.

But it isn’t true.

There are two problems.

  1. The calendar isn’t reflective of partner award space. There’s actually some Air France award space bookable by Delta (not nearly as much as is bookable by Alaska Airlines and other partners, but it’s bookable). But Alitalia space in particular is really good right now.

  2. The website, even searching particular dates, only sometimes shows flights that are available to Delta. Search the same thing multiple times and you’ll get different results. Some obvious flights that Delta can book won’t come up.

That’s why you often need to use a different tool to search, try Delta.com’s multi-city search so that you are only searching non-stop segment-by-segment, and then possibly call.

Here’s business class award availability for New York – Italy, 2 passengers, on Alitalita for the first 4 weeks of June.

It’s not amazing, but it’s pretty good for Delta miles and it’s much better than what the Delta website will reveal through its award calendar!
Alitalia flies Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, and Toronto – Rome and New York JFK – Milan. Each route is worth checking for business class space next summer especially if you want to redeem Delta miles.

For the most part, Delta has access to the same award space Alitalia offers to its other partners. That means you can search for space on Expertflyer.com (pay service) or AirFrance.us and then call Delta to book.

Not all intra-European routes will show up at Delta.com, and those that do may only show up intermittently when searching for award space. And if the flights won’t come up, it may just be a website limitation.

You can get any of those flights by calling, but Delta agents are in general the worst of the US carriers. They don’t know their partners, their partner booking classes, and they just assume there’s no saver award space because in this program there so rarely has been. So if your agent doesn’t see the space you’re looking for you’ll need to hang up and call back. (And when you’re tempted not to hang up and call back, do it anyway.)

(HT: to my own award booking service, to several reader emails, and also written about recently by MileCards)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. I’ve not been able to get the Delta award calendar to load for a week now. Using Chrome. Is this not an issue for other?


  2. Drew: I’ve been messing with the Delta award calendar with Chrome this week and it works as well as it ever has (so: not effective, but the pages draw in and I see flights and stuff)

  3. Thanks, Gary. I hadn’t even thought about this option. Any idea what fuel surcharges would look like?

  4. I learned this last month when I booked 5 BC seats from PHX to FCO for next July. One search would show the Alitalia flights at the bottom of the result screen and then POOF they would disappear in subsequent searches. Had to call to book. Only problem is that Alitalia BC seats don’t appear to be LF so hoping for schedule change so I can change to DL metal.

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