Save Miles With Delta’s Domestic “Award Sale”

Delta has an award sale at the moment for domestic travel in Main Cabin and Comfort+. I put “award sale” in quotations above because Delta doesn’t actually publish award charts anymore, so it’s tough to know if something is on sale when we don’t know what the prices should be.

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The award sale is marketed as being valid on 8,000+ routes. While Delta publishes a list with a few dozen eligible routes, it’s clear that the options go way beyond that.

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Here are the basic terms of Delta’s award sale:

  • Valid for bookings through June 7, 2016
  • Valid for travel between August 23 and November 16, 2016
  • 21 day advance purchase required (which is a non-issue, since the sale ends more than 21 days from the first eligible travel date)
  • Blackout dates of September 1-8, 2016, apply

As it stands Delta sometimes has shorthaul awards which cost less than 12,500 miles each way, so in some cases it’s tough to tell when the rates are actually lower than normal.

For example, during the promotion period I see 7,500 mile one-way awards between Tampa and Atlanta:

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I also see 7,000 mile one-way awards between Los Angeles and Seattle:

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The best way to see if a route is actually on sale is to compare the rates during the sale to what Delta is charging on other dates. For example, during an otherwise off peak period, Delta’s lowest award price between Los Angeles and Seattle is 12,500 miles one-way, so it does seem to represent a discount.

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While domestic awards aren’t that aspirational, in many cases they can represent a very good value. After all, miles can be practical too, and not just aspirational.

I also recommend always comparing award prices to paid ticket costs. I value different mileage currencies at different amounts (everyone will have their own valuations, though), so I won’t redeem miles if the value I get out of an award is less than my valuation. In the case of Delta that needs to be about 1.5 cents per mile, to account for my valuation of miles, plus the miles I’m forgoing by booking an award ticket rather than a revenue ticket.

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Delta 767 economy class

Comments

  1. There are some sweet spots for sure. In other cases, as much as it pains me to say it, DL’s flat 1 CPM valuation can be helpful for a partial Pay With Points redemption if Y fares are highish and their low F fares in the G bucket are available. Having the ability to use Cash+Points to reduce the cost and pick up the MQMs is nifty.

  2. @ Lucky – you said, “I put “award sale” in quotations above because Delta doesn’t actually publish award charts anymore, so it’s tough to know if something is on sale when we don’t know what the prices should be.”

    Question – if a retail sale is announced, how do you know if it really is a sale?

  3. Delta: “Trust Us, it’s a sale because we said it’s a sale”.

    That’s like DL saying it’s a benefit to the ‘elites’ that the thresholds went up, the spend got higher, the SkyDrachma got even LESS valuable and the mileage charts disappeared.

    A sale is only a sale if you can find the product you want at a lower price than it was “normally”.

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