Can Delta SkyMiles No Longer Be Redeemed For Saudia Business Class?

I’ve argued that the relative value of Delta SkyMiles has increased over the past couple of years. For my personal redemptions, I’d say the value of SkyMiles increased even further this year, given that one-way awards are now possible for half the cost of a roundtrip (unfortunately that came at the expense of stopovers on roundtrip awards).

Primarily I like redeeming SkyMiles for travel on Alitalia, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, etc.

But there’s no denying that SkyMiles have historically also been extremely useful for travel to the Middle East. That’s because Saudia is in SkyTeam, and they’ve historically released an almost unlimited amount of business class award space. It was kind of insane, they had at least seven business class award seats available on most flights.

Saudia-Business-Class-1

I’ve written in the past about how to search Saudia business class award space, which requires becoming a member of their Alfursan frequent flyer program. Delta SkyMiles has always had access to the same business class award availability that Saudia made available to their own members.

Saudia-Airlines

Well, at least until recently.

Best I can tell — and someone please correct me if I’m wrong — Saudia doesn’t seem to make most business class award space available to SkyMiles members anymore.

Saudia-Business-Class-2

Late last year Saudia aligned their fare classes to the standardized ones that SkyTeam uses:

  • For business class redemptions, Saudia has gone from “D” to “O”
  • For economy class redemptions, Saudia has gone from “L” to “X”

The only thing is that Saudia still seems to be using the “D” and “L” fare classes for members of their own Alfursan program, where they’re continuing to make the same business and economy class award space available.

ExpertFlyer-Saudia

Meanwhile Saudia doesn’t seem to be making any “O” and “X” space available, which is the award space that members of partner airlines have access to.

I’m not sure if this is intentional or a glitch, but I have been getting quite a few messages lately from readers about their inability to book Saudia awards using SkyMiles. So the above is the best explanation I can come up with.

Has anyone had any experience trying to redeem Delta SkyMiles for travel on Saudia lately? Is there something I’m missing, or are they really not bookable anymore?

Comments

  1. Not sure about Delta but Saudia business class seats are available thru airfrance website. I just checked, however i do not know what class are they booked under. Will probably have to make a phone call to delta to try to book the itinerary found on airfrance.com.

  2. Ironically, I have also been finding Delta miles very valuable – they are the best from LAX TATL. Even with the USAir glitch, I could only find a three stop return from Rome (as the domestic part returning from charlotte was a two stop). I am holding an FCO-LAX non stop on Al Italia business class, very hard to beat that.

    It comes at the expense of my dream SQ suites class, as I had to transfer Amex points to get enough points for the TATL in J. Nonetheless, 4 Amex Delta cards and 50k MR points, and I got tickets for two.

  3. @Olly – I agree. Its the airlines Star and Oneworld don’t want.

    They should market themselves as ‘the best of the rest’

  4. Thanks for useful info. I have a good amount of Delta miles via Amex card and now I am living in Cairo so I want to give it a try just for “an experience”.

  5. @jessie – If you want to try the experience, take the CAI-JED red-eye in J. 747 upper deck and fly the 747 while it lasts. (Also the only scheduled 747 to CAI.)

  6. Keep in mind that SV covers several destinations in the Middle East and South Asia that no other SkyTeam member serves. So yes there are people who want/are willing to fly them.

  7. @Abdel Rahim Abdallah – oh, thanks. I will take a look. I usually go to the Gulf by Qatar & Etihad so wanted to try another carrier. Hope I am not the only woman in the biz cabin (but prob. only Asian female as usual … lol) !

  8. I’ve flown Saudia on both their old 747 and new 777 & had awesome flights on both. Though both flights were dry, I was ok knowing I wouldn’t have to deal with any drunk passengers in J. šŸ˜‰
    @jessie, Saudia sells its old first class cabin in 747 as their business class seats so you’d be able to have an 80s vintage experience. On their 777, only 1/4 of business class was occupied JED-JFK so it was great! If you are flying to/from Asia, I doubt you’d be the only Asian female in business class.

  9. @Lantean,
    Yes, there are people who have no issue flying with them. I used skymiles for 5 business class seats for my family for travel to the subcontinent and had very pleasant experience. Lack of booz does not bother me as i do not drink. I don’t care much about bells and whistles either. Just get me from point A to B safely in a nice comfortable seat, throw in some food that i can actually eat and i am a happy camper.

    I agree that for those who are used to flying premium airlines, would not consider flying Saudia but it serves the needs of a lot of folks out there if you leave the politics out of it.

  10. @Joey – oh, thanks for more info. Vintage plane ! Sounds exciting ! Regarding the only Asian female passenger in my comment, it was because I normally (& sadly) have to fly only CAI-DOH or -DXB. For this route, I got a bit bored with Qatar/Etihad so was curious about MEA, Sauida or Royal Jordanian etc. For the long-haul flight to Asia (home visit), I would def. prefer Qatar or Etihad.

  11. Here what just happened.
    I booked my flight from JFK-RUH on saudia and called delta and they said that saudia is not partner with them in the upgrade program. Unfortunately, I’ve been saving miles for while for this flight.
    Will sell for alfursan or AA miles.

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