The Delta SkyMiles/Air France situation is getting worse and worse…

For much of the year Delta SkyMiles has had access to only a sub set of Air France’s award space. Reasons have ranged from technical issues to intentional blocking, though now it’s certain that it’s the latter.

In theory this isn’t really wrong on the part of Air France. I can understand that they release a lot of award space and that they’d want to release more award space to members of their own frequent flyer programs than those of partner frequent flyer programs. It does somewhat undermine the concept of an alliance, but they wouldn’t be the first airline to do so.

For the past several months the main issue has been how deceiving Delta has been about displaying Air France award space.

Take this example of award space between Toronto and Paris on October 5:

There happens to be Air France award space on this flight, though Delta doesn’t want you to know that. When you search award space here are the first couple of options that come up, which are supposedly the “best match:”

Meanwhile, if you change the search parameters to “# of Stops” or “Miles Per Passenger” the Air France option will show up, which otherwise only shows at the bottom of the page:

This is downright deceptive, because surely no one can say with a straight face that a trip with two connections is better than a nonstop flight at half the cost, right (unless you ‘re earning miles, of course)? ;)

But let’s forget the deception for a moment. Best I can tell, Delta doesn’t have access to a single transatlantic Air France business class award seat between September 1 and September 29.

Meanwhile Air France has space for at least two passengers every single day out of Toronto:

And every single day out of Washington:

And all but a handful of days out of New York:

Like I said, my issue here isn’t that they’re only releasing a subset of their award space to SkyMiles members. I might not love it, but I can understand it. My issue is that they’re blocking space on all routes for weeks at a time, when they’re often releasing at least nine award seats per flight to their own members. And then Delta trying to “hide” the little space that is there only adds insult to injury.

Comments

  1. Tijn says

    Works the same way around for Delta award flights when you are a Flying Blue member, so good riddance.

  2. JGfromOC says

    Glad you’re pointing this out. So frustrating to be completely unable to use my miles. Been searching online and calling for an award flight for a couple weeks now and seems like DL is totally blocking any partner flights. Even more dumb considering AF/KLM have an even closer relationship to DL. You’d think this wouldn’t be the situation.

  3. MarkD says

    Yes, we figured out the deception months ago and even so it was very difficult to find what little space Delta or KLM had for business class to Europe. We have those precious tickets now booked for June 12. – July 16.

    Try all US hubs to all Europe hubs one way all dates. Do not be deceived by the solid yellow etc. try mid week to mid week. Positioning flight on another airline also works. It took some time but for these reasons and the devaluation risk we are totally done/finished with Delta.

    PS – Try STR as as European entry point.

  4. James K. says

    Well I gotta say, it makes the 100,000 AMEX points I’ll be getting a wee bit less sexy. Any good Aeroplan redemptions I should know about?

  5. says

    @JamesK – Mate, your MR points are transferable to AF FlyingBlue points! This post is great news…you have tremendous TATL J availability with your MR points.

    Take a look at this post…it lays out many of the “second derivative” award partners from MR points. For example, you can transfer MR->SQ, then use those SQ points on Air India.

    http://upgrd.com/sitinfirst/amex-and-spg-points-are-far-more-valuable-than-chase-points-for-most.html

  6. lucky says

    @ James — But you were never supposed to redeem your AmEx points for a Delta redemption anyway. :D

    How about Singapore Suites, or Aeroplan? It’s 90K for business class to Europe and you can fly airlines like United, Swiss, and Brussels without fuel surcharges, all of which have a better business class product than Air France.

  7. Loran says

    As much as I detest Air France for their lack of anything that resembles customer service, I really can’t blame them in this situation. Once a Flying Blue member gets to the USA on AF the likelihood of finding an award seat on a domestic connecting Delta flight is just about nil. If DL makes it so hard for FB members to get award seats why should AF offer award seats to SkyMiles members?

    Delta is really positioning themselves as the frequent flier program of last resort for those who want to travel internationally, especially in premium cabins.

  8. Cedric says

    Good riddance of SkyPesos since Delta does exactly the same. Besides a couple of trunk-routes, FB members have virtually no access to any SkyPesos inventory…

  9. Anthony says

    I fly Delta quite a bit as I live in New York, my preferred airport is LGA and I fly a lot to Atlanta and other destinations served by Delta. Should I be earning these miles in the Alaska program instead?

  10. lucky says

    @ Anthony — If you actually fly Delta a lot you’re probably best off continuing to credit to them, as you earn other benefits (like upgrades and other priority services), and the value of that outweighs the slightly less valuable miles, in my opinion.

  11. lucky says

    @ Ben Skelton — That’s because the dates that show the lower fuel surcharges are actually for travel on Delta, as those are redemptions that they don’t impose fuel surcharges on. The higher fuel surcharges are for when Air France is available.

  12. Adam P says

    Lucky, do we know if AF is blocking the space for DL customers or is DL blocking the space because they only want to pay for so much of it? Considering all these TATL flights are part of a government-authorized joint venture free from anti-trust authority, I don’t really understand how they can justify the blocking.

  13. lucky says

    @ Adam — No way to know for sure, though I’d guess it was Air France’s decision and not Delta’s.

  14. ffi says

    lucky
    I have a ton of amex that I meed to park in a FF acct
    Is SQ a good choice or AF
    I need to able to book for just about anyone as some airlines only allow you to book for yourself and immediate family
    e.g., Asiana I had to send in the marriage license and birth certs before I could book my rickets for a family trip

    The main advantage of DL used to be that at least one could book for anyone and the tickets were cancelable

  15. lucky says

    @ ffi — I’d say the best redemption nowadays is for Singapore Suites. You can nominate a handful of people for which you can redeem out of your account, so it’s a bit more resrictive than some programs, but better than OZ/KE.

    I also think Aeroplan is pretty good for transatlantic and transpacific award redemptions without fuel surcharges.

    Delta is also very good, though only for Asia/Australia, and not so much Europe anymore, in my opinion. So I’d diversify a bit and transfer to a few different programs.

  16. ffi says

    I have used aeroplan to launder my amex to US miles (15% loss) where I could cancel for free and sit in the same seat anyway. This avoids the fuel fees on LH/LX etc

    Who knows, these US miles may become AA miles soon ?

    I think AF may be the best bet for EU travel with Amex and SQ for premium travel to Asia, but will need to look at fees with SQ for partner awards. I know they are great for UA awards.

    Thanks for the shout about Alaska points on EK. looking forward to it soon.

  17. lucky says

    @ ffi — I’d be conerned about US Airways miles if you don’t have an immediate use, as I think their chart is subject to devaluation on pretty short notice. In that sense I think Aeroplan is actually a better option, since United has a better transatlantic business class product to Europe than Lufthansa (fully flat vs. angled flat).

  18. MarkJ says

    I am a Delta Diamond and I could care less about Air France with no true lie flat seats that I know of.

    I have generally found low level Business awards on Delta [if you have a little flexibility] and just flew DTW-AMS on the Delta’s 777 which I enjoyed.

    If I can’t fly Delta I will use my miles that I have accrued on OneWorld or Star Alliance. Don’t give a rip about Air France or KLM but very much looking forward to Virgin Atlantic.

  19. says

    This is what Air Tahiti Nui LAX-CDG is for :D

    But in all seriousness Delta now sucks transatlantic, but they’re amazing transpacific. Finding lots of LAX-NRT, SEA-NRT, ATL-NRT etc, availability onboard DL at low level and as always there is CZ, KE, and MH (and that’s not all). And those all have great availability across the pacific.
    For me though I still think SkyMiles are extremely valuable, especially for those ex-LAX and utilizing Alaska first class awards.

  20. adelantando says

    I attempted to book an AF non-stop from LAX to CDG on Delta.com. They didn’t even show the flight.

  21. says

    Yep, standard operating procedure! SkyPesos program relies on the idiocy of its own members! There may be ways around it at great time costs but the majority of sucker members fall for this crap and it IS working for the bottom line!!

  22. JohnnieD says

    Try finding a TATL. Seat from YYZ in the month of May. All I can find are phantom KLM seats. @ Markj. I would fly DL TATL if they weren’t, 200k or 320k………….

  23. ChristineL says

    Confirming situation described at the beginning of this thread: Impossible to redeem DL miles for travel on AF…and then the AF FF tickets are outrageous: 55K miles+ and $600+ ticket…and no way to reserve seat…I booked it anyway, but awful really…having buyer’s remorse..should have gone on DL through Atlanta.
    Does anyone have any good tips for getting a larger baggage allowance? Is there a credit card I could sign up for? My free ticket allows 1pc luggage/person…I need 2…thanks!

  24. jerry maroon says

    How best use Delta Sky Miles to up grade from atlanta to copenhagen with af or klm?

  25. lucky says

    @ jerry maroon — There needs to be award space available in order to upgrade an Air France flight with Delta miles. So generally you’re better off outright booking Delta or trying to book an award reservation on Air France/KLM.

  26. Fletcher says

    I have Amex Delta and Amex Air France. Is it possible to combine miles from both accounts to book an award ticket on either airline?

    Thanks

  27. lucky says

    @ Fletcher — Unfortunately there’s no way to combine the miles to book a single award ticket, sorry!

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