Delta Cloaking Partner Award Space

Oh Delta.

In today’s episode of “this is why people don’t trust the SkyMiles program,” it appears that Delta is cloaking partner award space on Delta.com.

This started on Wednesday morning, and is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen.

Delta appears to be blocking (or at least cloaking) partner award availability, but in a very clunky way.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to search space between Houston and Paris next spring. If you search award space with any frequency, you are likely in the habit of searching one-way trips, so let’s start with that:

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And you get the following results:

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Now, given that SkyTeam partner Air France flies directly between Houston and Paris, and typically has plentiful award space 10 months out, it’s very odd to not see any flights on Air France.

Very odd.

So, let’s filter the search a bit more, and only look at non-stop flights:

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Delta-Blocking-Partner-Awards-04

Wait, what? 

We spent a few minutes yesterday wondering if we were crazy (afterall, we’d been able to book one-way partner awards without issue on Tuesday evening), before Mac realized that the space was available, but only if you searched as a round trip.

Seriously, what?

But that does seem to be the case. If you keep all the other parameters, and instead search for a roundtrip, space is magically there:

Delta-Blocking-Partner-Awards-05

Delta-Blocking-Partner-Awards-07

This seems to be impacting all partner award space. And it’s not just flights to Europe — this seems to be a global change.

If you look at space between Vancouver and Guangzhou (not like anyone else would ever do that, but let’s pretend), you get the same results:

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Delta-Blocking-Partner-Awards-15

No results on a one-way. Plenty of space on a round-trip.

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Delta-Blocking-Partner-Awards-13

Bottom line

think this is just a glitch. That being said, I don’t truly understand how “glitches” like this happen, and SkyMiles does have a history of making it more difficult to redeem awards, particularly on partner metal.

The good news is that these awards are still bookable by phone, and hopefully the web functionality will be restored soon. I’m not a fan of having to pay phone booking fees for something that really should be available online though.

Mark this one as developing, and very very odd.

Has anyone else run into this? Any problems booking by phone?

Comments

  1. Hi Tiffany:

    It seems I dont have the privilege to reply to your comment on Ask Lucky. Just want to say thank you for your insights in this. It’s a bummer that we need to go to great lengths to burn skypesos

  2. Thanks for posting about this right away – I thought I was nuts. Glad to see it’s frustrating someone else, too. This is going to seriously increase the amount of time it takes me to plan my open-jaw trip I wanted to book today, where 1 leg always has to be on a partner.

  3. @ Tiffany – wow, this is so strange! I was able to pull up VCE-IAH (i.e.VCE-CDG-IAH) yesterday afternoon but not right now.

    P.S. As an aside, I’m probably going to book using Alaska’s miles. Too bad, I forgot to buy during their sale so have to top up at the higher rate 🙁

  4. Tiffany:
    I think this issue was present earlier this week. I was searching for multi-city flights last week and couldn’t get any Alitalia flights to show up even when I specified a transfer in FCO for my return. (Which is unfortunate since I loved Magnifica Class when I flew it earlier this year.) I could see AF and KL flights but in terms of nonstop from FCO to the US, only DL metal appeared.

    I didn’t try a roundtrip, since I’m flying to one city and leaving from another, but this problem seems to have been around for a bit longer. I posted a comment on Ben’s entry regarding using SkyMiles to Asia asking whether there was a timing issue-i.e., award space was not released on Alitalia to SkyMiles members yet, but really should have just sent in a general question, I suppose.

    Nola

  5. Yeah I’ve been looking for 2 J seats low mileage from Australia to LA at the end of the schedule and haven’t found any VA space. Not sure if is related to this but I’ll search R/T now instead. Was able to get PER-SYD-LAX VA/DL on the last day of schedule (it put a 12 hour stopover in SYD) – I think I fooled the system because the DL flight was the next day (and books shouldn’t have been open yet?)

  6. @ Nola — When were you searching? Alitalia releases space a bit later than Air France and KLM, in my experience.

  7. Have you noticed anything else going on with KE space? It used to be that searching for business class awards to Asia from NY consistently brought up plentiful options on the KE flights to ICN, but they seem to have been gone for quite a while now, as well as many other KE trans-Pacific flights. I’ve already made sure I’m not hitting KE’s blackout dates.

  8. I should add–testing it out now, it looks like the award calendar may also be back to its unhelpful ways. I’m seeing lots of trans-Pacific flights where the calendar suggests an inflated minimum price, but then clicking through to specific dates shows that there are still 140K awards available in business.

  9. @Tiffany, as recently as this past weekend. I ran another search today and the Alitalia space shows up if I do FCO on a roundtrip. A few flights also now show up on multi-city but they price out very expensively.

  10. Dear Tiffany
    We here at Delta want to say thank you for noticing our latest series of global enhancements
    Eliminating partner availability means you can now see Delta flights more clearly and be assured of booking the outstanding world class products you have come to know and trust over all others
    Please be aware that we may charge a premium if you may be picking popular Delta flights or a partner that accidentally appears online due to our antiquated IT systems
    Thanks from all of at Delta for only choosing Delta when redeeming Delta Sky Pesos online the world most trusted devalued mileage currency. We appreciate your business!
    Delta Corporate Cloaking Dept 🙂

  11. @Tiffany — Given the large expat Cantonese population in Vancouver, I’d actually expect plenty of people to be searching Vancouver Guangzhou!

  12. I just booked OKC-LHR one way on VA in biz for 4 people over the phone and the booking agent did not waive the fee for me. I told her it was impossible for me to book because of the glitch, as well as i had to book economy form OKC-ATL, and then Biz from ATL-LHR. (a 2 hour flight in economy wont kill us, better than an 8 hour layover that was open.) the CSR was very nice but said she cannot change her system which adds the booking fees. I will be writing to Delta asking for reimbursement…. Still very happy 250k miles and $120 one way in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 4 people.

  13. Remember: “Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.” Since Delta is on around “glitch” 34 or so, I think it’s safe to attribute anything Delta does to “enemy action.”

  14. This happened to me, too. I was showing my sister award space on Delta and I wanted to point to AF award space…and nope. Definitely an awkward “ta-da!” moment.

  15. Delta covertly trying to prevent their loyal fliers from being able to redeem their hard-earned SkyMiles? NO. Say it ain’t so! Where’s Nick when you need him. He’d be here to tell us that Delta is probably just doing this for our own good.

  16. I noticed this too for a Virgin Atlantic flight that I want to book next summer from SFO-LHR using SkyPesos. The flight is still available for points on Virgin Atlantic’s own website – if I called up Delta directly would they be able to book the flight?

  17. If you are used to LM this is nothing. LM has glitches like this all the time. What’s worse with LM is that you can’t phone the agents to book it for you because if you can’t see it online, they can’t see it either.

  18. @ Andrew — If the space shows up when you look at roundtrips, then yes. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t give 100% of their available award space to Delta.

  19. I’ve been trying to book some AF seats and noticed them disappear from DL site since Wed. So this morning I called DL web support, the fellow was very helpful and confirmed he is seeing the same problem with the web site. He promised to directly and right away contact the tech dept but said it would probably take until Mon to see it fixed.

  20. And this is the reason why I use Delta miles for hotels and not air travel. If you have a Delta CC, you can snag some pretty fantastic hotels that are not parts of chains if you “Shop with Miles” and go to the “Skymiles Marketplace”. I gave up trying to find flight award availability with Delta years ago. Miserable routes with indecent hours both departing and arriving AND toooooo many stopovers!

  21. I just spoke to the Delta Diamond line and they are saying that even though I can find award space on AF’s homepage at the lowest award level, Delta might not have access to it (her words). BS. So long Delta (from yet another Diamond who is going out of his way to not fly delta anymore).

  22. @ niels — That’s true, actually. Delta negotiates award space separately with partners, which is unusual for an alliance partner, but they don’t have access to all the “Classic” award space FlyingBlue otherwise offers.

  23. Quick data point sort of on topic sort of tangential: DL stopped offering any award space on Virgin Australia long hauls on Tuesday, 28 July, at least one-way awards. There is nothing available ever on Virgin, even a year out. It shows DL metal for the trans-Pac portion and Virgin for some of the connections, but that’s it.

  24. Delta just screwed up my trip to france with this stupid bullshit. I’m really ticked off and disappointed in myself in even bothering to accrue some delta points, but console myself with the fact that I churned my way into those points, and didn’t earn ’em butt-in-seat.

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