There’s Fantastic Delta Business Class Award Space to Europe for 2 or More People!

Delta miles are notoriously difficult to use. They’re called SkyPesos for a reason. There are a lot of other things I don’t like about the program, like the lack of international first class awards and the lack of one-way awards at half the cost of roundtrip, as well as a pricing engine that is frequently broken, charging more miles for an award than required.

But Delta miles can be used, and used effectively.

Often they have partners with reasonably good availability. At the Frequent Traveler University event back in September, Lucky from the One Mile at a Time blog put me on the spot and in an auditorium full of people made me book a business class award to Delhi on specific dates. I put together something with Skyteam members Saudia on the outbound and Aeroflot on the return.

Availability on Delta is often not nearly as good. But there are routes that are an exception. I frequently find that Delta has pretty good availability to London Heathrow, and they fly there from several US gateways.

Getting to those gateways of course can be a challenge, Delta presents the somewhat ironic challenge that it’s often domestic connecting flights that are harder to get at the ‘saver’ or ‘low’ level than it is international flights (usually because of better availability offered by international partners).

But especially if you live in a Delta hub city, or can get there easily, you can get to London with some pretty good availability.

I’m going to show you some searches for (2) passengers in business class. But in many cases this fall, where I show business class as available, there’s actually 3 savers seats offered. Bear in mind that what you want to see is GREEN on the award calendar, as that represents saver seats available.

  • Things are ‘ok’ in the immediate term, I’ll show what some March availability looks like.
  • Space really dries up in the late spring. Good luck finding anything at all in May/June.
  • Things are better in the real summer months.
  • But they really become wide open for the fall.

I was prompted to point this out reading a post by Jeffsetter who was thrilled by Delta’s good business class availability on their Minneapolis – London Heathrow route.

His experience is actually pretty generalizable to all of Delta’s London routes.

In fact, here’s what business class space for 2 passengers looks like in the fall (October/November/December) for Minneapolis – London:

As I say, it’s not so good in May/June:

But some seats can be found over the summer:

We’ll see something similar for Detroit – London.

Some seats are available in the near-term of March.

But not for May/June.

And the entire fall is wide open!

Here’s what that magical fall looks like for New York JFK – London.

And even in Atlanta, it’s more about London and the seasonal pattern than it is about being locked into a city where they’ve got you even if they never release another saver award seat again!

Once again, some seats in March:

Nothing for May/June:

And a gorgeous fall!

While I’m on the subject of routes that have fantastic business class saver award availability for the fall for two passengers, let’s have a look at Pittsburgh – Paris.

And it isn’t only odd-ball routes like Pittsburgh – Paris, either. Routes where I rarely see business class saver award space, like New York JFK – Rome, have a couple of business class seats available this fall. Here’s November and December.

Now, I think that not offering 2 saver business seats just about any day for two months across a variety of gateways to London is ludicrous.

But you can find some space to Europe in the summer, and if you have any interest in award travel to London in the fall then you’ll have no problem whatsoever right now using your Delta miles! Even some other destinations are possible.


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. […] Delta Skymiles aren’t worthless.  But they are still worth less than their competitors’ miles.  Gary of View From The Wing walks through a surprising increase in availability for travel from the US to Europe.  While space is still somewhat limited this summer the fall looks great.  Delta members rejoice!  Well, maybe not quite rejoice, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye. […]

Comments

  1. @ Gary, a couple points:

    1) You absolutely cannot trust those calendar displays. Just because you see green, doe NOT mean their is low level space. I would think you’d know that.

    2) Getting an award to the international gateway is really fairly easy, if you are elite. You can just book a coach saver (pretty easy to find as a Diamond), and then upgrade to first (again, easy as a Diamond).

  2. I’ve been combing Delta space recently for a trip to LHR, but getting to the international gateway from my home city has proven to be the problem. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the J award availability on the TATL segments, but it’s not much help if I can’t get to the gateway city!

  3. The other annoying thing with Delta is that if you are lucky enough to find a save seat. The connections are insane and you’ll have to wait 10+ hours between the domestic and the international flight.

  4. Great availability is definitely a surprise, but what about the actual product? We know the soft product is pretty bad – what about the hard product on these routes?

  5. @Gene correct the calendar is broken but it’s “order-of-magnitude correct” meaning that months that show all green do have lots of space.

    And sure, if you earn 125,000 qualifying miles on Delta then domestic coach availability is better.

  6. @Jason

    DL guarantees flat beds (with direct aisle access) on all LHR flights. Typically the forward-facing 1-2-1 767-400 or 767-300ER, but I seem to recall that they’ll be using a 772 with herringbone seats on one of the routes for a period. As far as US carriers go, DL’s J soft product is probably the best. See lucky’s South America report.

  7. A couple of weeks ago I snagged 2 business class seats – LAX to LHR (VS upper class) / AMS-ATL (stopover) ATL-LAX in November for the low miles (and reasonable fuel surcharge vs Flying Club!). You gotta search and search with Delta…..

  8. I can only dream of having enough miles to book a business class award ticket anywhere, let alone international! 🙂

  9. The calendars are meaningless to me, because the green saver award does not represent a standard # of miles–in fact it varies greatly. More often than not it’s too frustrating to pursue. Last year when I booked award tickets to Europe for March, 2014, I ended up using Alaska award miles because it required far fewer miles, and the process was painless.

  10. @Portlandia – most of the time, and you may have to work a little bit with the booking engine, but it does represent a standard # of miles (the saver or low level)

  11. I’ve seen green(saver)mileage requirements vary from 125k to 275k once U click thru. No way would I trust this screen in terms of actual availability.
    A few seats might be there but everyone knows the space does not exist nearly to the extent Delta would have you think.

  12. In my case of searching, I did see the green “saver” award show up as 150k miles on my first search and then I adjusted the criteria until I saw a direct flight at 100k. The calendar does not always price things properly, but it is helpful in getting started and with enough patience you can find what you want about 50% of the time.

  13. You must not have actually clicked on any if the awards. The award calendar is the biggest piece of phooey delta ever came up with. I just spent an hour trying to go from lots of places in the states to London or Paris both before and after June 1st. I only picked dates that the b.s. award calendar said were low level awards (50000) and the lowest flight that came up was 150000. For one person. I hate delta! And, yes, I am a million miler platinum with a delta reserve card. Why, I don’t know except that Atlanta is my hub and I really have no other choice.

  14. PIT-CDG may have good availability, but DL doesn’t fly nonstop on that route in November or December so those calendars are showing connecting flights.

    Or just the usual phantom stuff 😉

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