Improving Delta Award Itineraries When Schedules Change

As a followup to my post on how to successfully book premium cabin international awards with Delta miles, I’d like to welcome deltagoldflyer to blogging, his first contribution at the new Delta Points blog is about using schedule changes to your advantage.

Probably more than any other airline I’ve worked with, Delta is accomodating when schedule changes happen in advance even on award tickets.

United will sometimes open up seats on their own flights, but only when there are no other reward options, if something happens to your flights and any alternative using award inventory exists, they’ll expect you to use it. Continental has always been pretty good when an award ticket falls apart, enough perseverence and on more than once occasion I’ve seen them open up reward seats on their own aircraft when only revenue seats are available.

But Delta is pretty good about even proactively offering revenue inventory when an award flight schedule changes, a flight is cancelled, or an award you’ve booked becomes otherwise-impossible. And deltagoldflyer says you can make this flexibility work for you.

That far out, and with regional airline partners, schedules change all the time! Once that happens and you can not make your connection the “miles requirement” for your frequent flyer ticket goes out the window. Then, we can simply ask for the flights that would have cost 245,000…

His suggestion is when booking an award far in advance, go out of your way for crazy routings with short connecting times. Then there’s a good chance that schedule changes will make at least one of your connections ‘illegal’ (too short), and you can simply call up and ask for the more direct routing you would have originally preferred, even though it wasn’t ever available as an award.

This is only going to work for routes on Delta flights, they won’t be able to be as forthcoming with revenue seats on partners. But once you have a ticket between two cities and they change up schedules on you such that you’re no longer going to be expected to be able to connect, they’ll accomodate you on whatever schedules do work most of the time.

It’s a bit of a risky game, schedule changes could happen that increase your connecting time rather than decreasing it, so it’s not a guarantee. But always watch those schedules and when connections become a problem, use them to your advantage to improve your award.

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. […] Originally Posted by apex Yesterday I was notified of another schedule change. It appears that ATL-CPH has been dicontinued, at least next June. New booking was CVG-ATL-JFK-CPH (not so good) and return TXL-CDG-CVG (2 hour layover) which was better. I checked flight schedules and found CVG-JFK-CPH with only a two hour layover in JFK. Checked seats on the CVG-JFK in first and was wide open, so I called Delta. Maybe I got lucky as CSR was able to book us on that connection in first. Unless there is another schedule change we now have much better connections and the schedule we have now was closer to 200K each I first started my search. Again, thanks Flyertalk! This is something everyone should watch out for, and Gary just had a post about it over at his View from the Wing blog: Improving Delta Award Itineraries When Schedules Change […]


  1. Ah yes but worst case you get extra “bumportunities” (I get to coin a word too) and DELTA does love to print DELTA dollars often 🙂

    I have often found that reps will do a bunch for you if they can get away with it and it not come back on them. Many schedule changes affords the the chance to be nice this way to us! – Thanks again – Rene

  2. This approach kind of works for most award bookings made far out. What I try to do is book something that I wouldn’t *die* if I flew it, but maybe it has extra connections or weird routings. Then I hope for a schedule change, and I just leave that schedule change on the file 🙂 Next, I wait until my preferred routings become available, even if it’s just a few days before departure, and I get to make the changes free of charge (no booking fees, no additional taxes and fees, no change fees, nothing). I’m hedging my bets by booking *something* ahead, and optimizing as we approach departure. Worked for me so far!

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