Using Delta Miles for Family of Four Saver Business Class Availability to Asia

Delta sometimes makes decent business class award space available to Europe, generally when prices are at their lowest for paid tickets. Getting to Asia on Delta can be much harder without paying exorbitant mileage costs (e.g. 200,000-plus miles per person in each direction).

However Delta’s partners, especially their Chinese partners China Southern and China Eastern, offer good availability from West Coast gateways.

Here’s a search for four passengers, Los Angeles to Guangzhou non-stop in business class.

There’s also space on partners, one way to see myriad options is to search to Shanghai which will bring up flights on China Eastern (non-stop from LAX as well as connections through San Francisco) and Korean Air (via Seoul) as well. You are unlikely to find options on Delta.

The lowest taxes and fees ($30s) represent travel on Korean Air. Pricing in the $100s means China Southern. In the $200s means China Eastern.

Delta adds fuel surcharges to awards on its Chinese partners. They own a piece of China Eastern, and China Southern has broadly been expected to leave SkyTeam (it’s own in very small part now by American).

Delta is an instant transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. These same seats should be bookable via Korean Air (Chase partner) and Air France KLM Flying Blue (Chase, American Express, Citi).

Looking for four business class saver awards is always a challenge. And you won’t find it on Delta. But working across their partners you can find it quite often currently. Between connections in Seoul, Shanghai, and Guangzhou you can get all over Asia. The challenge can be getting an award to the West Coast gateway city (since saver availability on Delta can be questionable). So sometimes you may need to buy a domestic ticket to start and end your journey. Poor domestic award space is the new carrier-imposed fuel surcharge.

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. How are things actually ticketing CZ and MU these days? I’ve not been actively trying in the past month. Availability that looks so good online like you show on the calendar so often for so long can’t be ticketed online or via the phone. MU seems the more problematic of the two. Lately, SU has a been a pain for me, calendar shows wide open LAX-SVO that is entirely phantom.

  2. We just flew 5x J award on DL metal MSP-HND. Booked 9 months out though. Returned 5x J award on CX.

  3. Lots of them are phantom unbookable. Not online nor with an agent.

    A friend tried to book 3 tickets a few days ago, it errored out at last step. Called DL, agent tried and got the same result. Agent commented this happened A LOT with China Southern.

    The Chinese flyertalk equivalent sites have concluded these are phantom months ago as they probably are the largest users of these awards which seem no longer bookable since last year.

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