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Delta Slammed for Scarce Award Availability. Again

Delta Slammed for Scarce Award Availability. Again

When Delta introduced its three-tiered award structure in 2008, the airline’s management promised that the net effect would be positive: On average, SkyMiles members could look forward to redeeming fewer miles for their award trips.

Only Delta has access to the hard data needed to judge whether that promise was kept or broken.

The feedback I’ve received from my readers since the change strongly suggests that awards at the lowest level, which are comparable price-wise to other airlines’ restricted awards, are extremely difficult to come by. Since those are the awards that most travelers request most often, it follows that many SkyMiles members are paying more miles for their award travel. Which means that the average price of an award ticket has increased, not decreased.

So much for anecdotal evidence.

A 2012 study by industry consulting firm IdeaWorks found Delta’s award availability to be the worst among U.S. airlines. The researchers were successful in booking award flights on Delta just 27.1 percent of the time.

And earlier this week, USA Today took Delta to task for its stingy award availability, citing both horror stories from frequent travelers and the results of its own test bookings of Delta award flights.

Among the findings:

  • Of 50 domestic Delta flights chosen at random, 42 had no free seats for minimum miles.
  • For 50 international flights, awards at the lowest level were available on only 14 flights.

Delta’s traditional response to such criticism has been to sidestep the issue of award availability entirely and point out SkyMiles’ supposed strong points.

Given the preponderance of evidence that SkyMiles is the least generous U.S. program, and by a wide margin, Delta’s denials ring increasingly hollow. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Delta’s loyal customers deserve better.

Reader Reality Check

How successful have you been in redeeming Delta miles for free flights?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/yao.li.1044 Yao Li

    I would have switched from UA to DELTA before reading this blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/tigerhunt2011 John Beeler

    I love Delta. Not because I’m elite (I’m far from it), but because of the experience. I churned about 80,000 through the Gold Skymiles AMEX and the Suntrust checking offer, and have so far been able to redeem two 25,000 mile flights in the last six months (I’m in a long-distance relationship). Not only are the flight attendants incredibly more polite than United & American, but you are not treated like an invalid if you are not in first class or a Medallion. Not to mention Delta’s product is exciting. The same could be said for American, sleek and modern. United… get with the program. One of the many reasons Delta will always be my first choice is the fact that they held a connection just for me at SLC when a mechanical problem delayed the inbound flight and the outbound was one of two daily flights from SLC to Tucson. So, yes, I have been able to book 25,000 mile flights multiple times.

  • deemaj

    Not only is the award availability poor, Delta is completely tone-deaf to the thousands of complaints about its broken award availability calendar. These complaints have been going on for years and can be found on any blog or forum having to do with Delta. You simply cannot consistently determine what is available and at what price using their web site. Just one example is the utter frustration one often experiences trying to book more than one seat together using miles. Delta sky miles are not referred to as SkyPesos for nothing.

  • Keith Lockwood

    Just left Delta… 1.4M miles, charter Diamond Medallion. Their “elite” levels have become so watered down that it’s ridiculous. How can anyone be considered “elite” when there are regularly 80+ names on the UG list at the airport or when way over half the airplane boards during PREM and SKY? Book a B fare ticket elsewhere and you are in first at booking… at Delta? Welcome to coach! Used to have a good program but rollover and credit card miles have let everyone have “status”… hey Delta – when everyone has “status”, NO ONE does! Good riddance…

  • SLC2002

    I’m at 1.3M Delta flight miles and moved to UAL two years ago. I’ll never go back (even though I’m based in DL’s fortress hub of SLC). I’m sooooo much happier with UAL. I can get standard awards for most flights and can find upgradable international fares for about $200 more than the lowest coach fares. Star Alliance is much better as well.

  • brandsteve

    I’ve been looking for low miles to europe in coach and simply can’t find them for dates I want.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.erickson2 Bob Erickson

    Anybody can get standard awards – they cost DOUBLE the miles of a saver award.

  • ken

    As a Platinum member and a 2MM miler of the frequent flyer program, I think it sucks (sorry about the terminology but can’t find a more appropriate terms)! I find it very hard to find low miles award avaiability and I have more access to awards as a Platinum. Also, the award booking tool is worse than that of any other airline. Frankly Delta’s frequent flyer program has become pathetic,

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryjane.matheny Mary Jane Matheny

    Delta has changed the MQMs earning in B class. Instead of getting 150% you now only get 100%. You pay a fortune for a B class fare so I am shocked they lowered the MQMs!!!!

  • SK

    As a diamond member I feel Delta is the worst of all airlines when it comes to be able to redeem low point tickets with the possible exception of US Air. Over the past year I have tried to book tickets with plenty of time and found the seat charts to show there were maybe one or two seats taken on the flight but it required 40,000 miles to redeem. Have had the same bad luck trying to book award seats close to my travel dates. All I hear from Delta is they are the best airline (in many ways they are). Frankly if American would have treated me better I never would have switched to Delta. I rarely had issues booking an award ticket on American.

  • disqus_e66vILriLL

    For the first time in many trips, I was not able to find business class seats on Delta at any level for an upcoming trip to South America. I have always planned in advance and always been successful to Europe. However, this time I could only find one seat, and that seat took me all around the USA before landing in Rio on a 28 hour trip, rather than the 16 hour trip that I ended up paying for. On the other hand, last year I was successful in finding two business class RT ff tix to LAX to Paris in the middle of summer.

  • Kurt

    I earn and try to regularly use miles for flights on American, Delta, United, and US Airways, and my experience has consistently been that it is by far the most difficult to book flights on Delta at the minimum miles. That, along with the fact that Delta charges the same for a one-way as round trip (unlike American and United) means that I almost always have to plan on using at least 40K miles for a domestic coach ticket or 80K or a First Class ticket.

    Even more frustrating is the fact that Delta availability calendar is often a joke. Half the time, even when it shows tickets available at the minimum miles on a given day, when you go to that day, no seats are actually available. That, along with other annoying quirks with the Delta system have soured me on using Delta as much anymore if I can avoid them. Clearly, the data from other studies is backing up what I have known for several years now.

  • disqus_EcijDfIds6

    I’ll keep my Delta AMEX card for the free bags, but am not accruing more miles and have switched to other reward cards for points I can use on other airlines. I’ve been an elite (sometimes platinum) member ever since Northwest started the system. The only reaon I even pick Delta now is that I’m in the Detroit area … a major hub. — ed./

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.dreher.9 Leonard Dreher

    This is not news, Delta has for years been the WORST airline for redeeming miles.

  • ffdude

    Agreed. Availability is marginal at the lowest fare. If there are available seats, then they offer connecting flight s, but never the nonstop routing. With a Delta Amex, you can use 10k miles for $ 100 in payment.

  • disqus_Bfw89faQzT

    I have stopped using Delta completely except to spend my remaining miles. American will offer a 50,000 first class ticket from SFO TO JFK. On Delta it is minimum of 110,000. Its 100,000 to Europe in business on American.Delta is 200,000 to 325,000 for the same business class seat.

  • anyaerp

    I recently cancelled by Delta Amax rewards credit card since I do not want to accumulate Delta points anymore. Because it is impossible to use them! Also the Delta website is extremely difficult to use, not user friendly at all. I wish they would do something!!

  • alex

    This is extremely disappointing. I am a diamond member, but am about to cancel my Delta Reserve AMEX card and will get status match and return to American — where I used to be Exec Plat, and very happy. The reason I switched to Delta in the first place was better Europe access — but it’s just not worth it. I’ll just fly through LHR. Plus Europe access may get better via the AA/USAir merger. The lousy miles policy has long been known, Delta has been completely unresponsive, let’s all just get out of here. I will take my $84,000/year airline ticket budget elsewhere.

  • EdElli

    As a 12 year Delta Platinum member (NWA prior to merger) and someone that books flights for an entire race-team to all over the world I am really fed up with Delta’s low value of frequent flyer miles. I use my miles for family members and year after year Delta offers worse low or mid level availability. Miles are not worth anything if one can’t use them. Since the merger between NWA and Delta I started booking flights on which ever airline has the best price no matter which alliance they belong to.
    I noticed this year that KLM operated mileage flights have not been bookable on Delta’s website and Air France shows as good as no mileage flight availability anymore. In previous years KLM and Air France flights were the only option to get to Europe on a low mileage Delta Skymiles flight. American Airlines and United Airlines do offer much more mileage flight availablity. Cancelled the Delta Amex card because I rather get miles on UA or AA.

  • Silvia Jiménez

    agreed! i did the same!

  • Vic

    I agree it is bad and I have a flexible schedule I call the day they are to open seat and nothing. Normally I have to fly on a partner using up more miles. I have over 300k miles and cant use them.

    The goverment needs to get invoved

  • rAudiOne

    Several years ago I flew my family of 4 ATL-Peru for 160k miles (total) in Business Class. Now I’m looking at 110k for one coach ticket to Munich. This week i spent 40k for a RT ATL-LAX for my son..a few years ago it would have been 25K. But the worst part is the lack of availability in general.

  • pcpeeps

    Delta awards suck, period. And they don’t care.

  • disabilityadvocate

    I just left Delta for United this year because i got fedd up with little reward availability. It is terrible. I am a former Delta Platinum for years and current Gold. I have over 200k miles on all the major airlines. Whenever I would go to redeem miles for flights I would compare availability for the number of miles. I have over 400k Delta miles, and I could rarely find award sets at the lowest award levels of Delta. It got to where I would use all the others because the availability was better. If Delta fundementally changes its award availability, I may come back. But if they don’t, I am done w Delta!

  • Endre Pekarik

    Delta Diamond for 3 years and million miler. Fly about 250 segments a year equals about $50,000 spending. Just ready to start with STAR because my diamond means that I frequently fly on coach because the upgraded list is 100+ people. Getting sky miles “free” tickets is a joke. Boarding when 90% of the plane is SKY Priority is a zoo. Pushing and showing. bye bye Delta .. and they just purchased Pinnacle, the runt of the Airline industry. We thought Comair was bad… Oh my gosh.. Pinnacle will be the death of me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fleet-Wright/100000756981094 Fleet Wright

    Was struggling to come up with the perfect word to describe Deltas Skymiles & Awards programs…actually, not to be a copycat but Ken…Pathetic really strike home. They have severed all ties with all programs that someone that doesn’t do business travel or have a nice credit card rewards program. I don’t have a credit card anymore, I guess now I’m not a big enough spender in their minds to want to let me earn anything. E-Rewards.com and emiles,com both had Delta and you could use cash rewards to purchase miles, this year Delta cancelled both programs, There is only two ways to earn miles, use that credit card or take a trip. Not to even go into the fact that Delta charges each way which results in having to pay alot more miles. When it was Northwest/KLM to buy a round trip ticket to Europe it was 55,000 miles. Also the two airlines were one when flying and getting the rewards, if you bought the ticket through KLM or Northwest it didn’t matter,if you rode in a NW plane or a KLM plane, you got the miles. Now, although Delta claims they ‘merged’ with NW then why didn’t KLM stay in the group?
    Delta charges more that any other airline for miles rewards tickets and makes it almost impossible to even use them. For a round trip ticket to Europe Delta charges 60,000 miles. Yes they did a great thing by making the miles non expiring, but I’d imagine if they didn’t,… no one would ever use them as it would take a lifetime to save enough. OH–except the credit card and business travelers. That’s who they cater too, and I get it…but don’t pitch out the people that pay cash for things as no counts. We count when you want our cash. I suppose we’re simply too small on the scale of importance & money in Deltas mind. They cheat people, they lie, they treat folks like…like…well… like a piece of TP stuck on someones shoe from a nasty gas station restroom. Tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’m mistaken..say that I’m uninformed ……and I’ll tell you that you don’t know Delta, not at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hjohnprice.sd John Price

    I participate, actively, in about 5 frequent flier programs. Combined miles experience over 30+ years is over 4 million miles between these various airlines & partners + plus significant family member participation.
    Delta was never the best at redeeming miles for flights. And it has consistently got worse. Just about impossible to get award travel and then it is very costly. There are many programs that are much better.
    That being said, Delta (&partners/ex-partners) goes to a foreign destination that I need in the mix.

  • http://twitter.com/61ram richard m

    I am seriously thinking about changing carriers as my primary airline for flights. It doesn’t pay to be loyal to Delta.

  • Ronnie

    There are two platinums and a charter diamond in our family. Collectively, we have accumilated more than twelve million miles between us, from both flying and credit cards. We fly dozens of long haul international flights each year and are members of all three major alliances. It’s all about the upgrade and the free flights and Delta just hasn’t got it. Two of us have 300,000+ miles in our delts accounts currently and the other has more than a million. We can’t spend them at a realistic price. Sure, I can spend 350,000 miles for a ticket to the middle east and get rid of all of the accumulated miles in one shot. They never have the dates I want at the low price. I agree with all those here who know as well as I do, that the award availability tools on the website are broken. You can waste an hour on the web trying to book rewards, mostly futile!! In short, we all steer clear of Delta, whenever we can. I paid more than $2,500 for an upgradable ticket from TLV-LAS about four weeks ago. I had to wait until 10 minutes before boarding for the return milage upgrade. Yes, there were dozens of others on the UGL and yes there was a train station sized crown for boarding in the priority line.

    We only use Delta now if there is absolutely no other choice. If I’m going to travel in economy, I’d rather do it on United , or Jet Blue. At least the seat is comfortable and clean.

  • http://twitter.com/malbarda malbarda

    I am said to report that I, too am falling slowly but surely for AA. DL redemption is so bad, with the exception of 25,000 for LBA – AMS which I can usually get to fly my son to see his grandparents. JFK – Europe is a disaster. I am a charter Diamond Elite MM.

  • Dave

    I have almost 200k miles on Delta from 10 years ago. Been trying to use them for a “reasonable” ticket since then. NOTHING is EVER available… Good thing miles don’t expire. Perhaps someday when I am old and grey… Oh wait, that is now..

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.young.1460693 Michael Young

    As Diamond member for the last couple of years I have also noticed that finding flights in the lowest tier has gotten much harder. Even going out 90, 120, 180 days on many destinations proves fruitless. There is a definate negative difference in availability over the last several years. Sad to see. And to Deltas response – if we have to spend more miles for our rewards due to poor availability the points are indeed worth LESS.

  • http://www.vimeo.com Paul

    What bothers me more than anything is that even when you check availability on the very first available day that awards open up, there’s no benefit whatsoever, and redemptions are usually at the mid- to highest-level miles from the very beginning. No other airlines do this, and I’m literally avoiding Delta now because of their very anti-customer, poisonous attitude.

  • http://www.vimeo.com Paul

    Kool-Aid. Drunk.

  • http://www.facebook.com/judy.jones.503 Judy Jones

    I am in the same camp. Maybe because of routing out of Montana, but I have been able to bring 3 friends to FL in Feb/Mar for 25K, I went RT to MT in Nov for 25K and sent a friend from MT to AMS RT for 60K and $60 in taxes last Oct. This month another friend ran me 32K, and I am not elite. American is the one I can never find a cheap award ticket on. It just depends on where you need to go.

  • gumdoc

    I’m smiling as this seems to confirm what I’ve felt for many years, which is that Delta’s is the least generous program, unless you’re going off-season to a destination nobody ever wants to go to and you don’t mind connecting through Cincinnati or Atlanta to make a 3 hour flight 8 hours. I’ve cashed in 2,700,000 AA miles with minimal issues, including 2 business class tickets from JFK – LAX over the coming Thanksgiving holiday (and I had multiple good NON-STOP options). I dumped my Amex SkyMiles card due to the poor availability. I’d rate ones chances of scoring a low-mileage Delta ticket at a desirable time to a desirable place just slightly better than winning Powerball.

  • http://www.facebook.com/truwoman Diana Hershberger

    There must be a reason that I have never redeemed miles on Delta, but always use them on American~!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicki.murphy.56 Vicki Murphy

    I cancelled my Delta Am Ex card and let some of my Delta miles that I had left expire. It was impossible to get ANY flights where I wanted to go or when I wanted to go with a resonable amount of points. Their website is the worst of any airline website I use to book flights with points…..just not worth the time I had to spend to get nothing.

  • jmw2323

    very happy to have found a J seat (100k DL) on AF for my wife this fall. first time in 3+ years that I have used any DL miles

  • prefer@not.com

    I recently struggled to get a north asia award on delta (current low mileage requirement 50% higher than only a few years ago). Finally found one and was able to book hotel around it. The flight had 40 empty seats going and about 20 returning. Been around long enough to remember the basic concept of frequent flier rewards; fill seats that would otherwise fly empty with loyal customer butts!
    Delta is disloyal. Delta is stingy. Delta punishes customer loyalty. I am an idiot! Will fly delta as little as possible.
    Thanks for the article

  • semsem5

    DELTA’S program is a “disaster.”

    Trips to Europe for 60,000 miles are only available in February and often one way are at 60,000 and the other way 80,000.

    In the summer you usually need about 120,000 miles; double UA and AA.

    The only positive is that the miles never expire.

    Also no one way awards which I have found very helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sergey.firsov.980 Sergey Firsov

    Where is DELTA headquarter? right! in black city Atlanta. They hate white people when you flight over main Delta hub. It’s low level service. So I will have never open a Delta credit card…

  • bach_partners@hotmail.com

    I have amassed 3million + miles on Delta & currently have a Diamond status card. I haven’t been able to use a low mileage award in years. Infact, I think there is some gamesmanship going on. I recently tried to book a flight to London using points – 9 months out. Far enough that there wasn’t another person booked in Bus class. (in a paid fare class…) and there wasn’t one low price award seat. I confirmed this with the Diamond reservation center. DL is all about selling credit cards. I will likely shift my loyalty from DL if they don’t improve their flexibility. They did it before when they canned Leo Mullin (a former CEO) who was anti-frequent flier.

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.holbrook.737 Todd Holbrook

    The last time I flew Delta on a frequent flier ticket was the last time I will ever fly Delta. Booked business class Boston to St Kitts for a nice vacation, 270 +/- days out (as soon as seats opened, as I knew about availability problems). Several days before flying, I checked seats and found no seat assignment on return flight. Called, and after about an hour on hold and speaking to various people was finally told “we cancelled that flight and now only fly there once a week.” Because I could not get back, I was forced to change plans at last minute to go on long-planned vacation elsewhere (which, by the way, was cold and rainy, NOT at all what I had planned). And Delta customer service offered nothing for the inconvenience / aggravation (looking for words that can print here). I then successfully sued them in Massachusetts small claims court. I will never fly Delta again.

  • Ronald Beck

    I just spent 2 hours trying to find low sky mile points for two people from Ft. Lauderdale to International Falls, MN in August. You would think it would not be such a popular route. To save time, it was 25K a week ago. Yesterday it showed at 40K when i tried to book both together. I tried only one and it showed 32.5K. I booked it and tried another booking for second seat and it was 40K! I called deltas to see what happened and they told me my booking did not show up even though I had an email receipt for my credit charge! after 10 minutes it was changed and i tried to book a third for cash. i was told it would be $25. When i said the person was 14 years old, agent finally waived $25 charge.

    Southwest and American take me 5 minutes and i always find low charges since i am flexible with my dates. Only Delta does not let this work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.erickson2 Bob Erickson

    Racist comments have no business being made in an airline blog. Keep your bigotry to yourself.

  • Andrew Dhuey

    Big mistake, Delta. Scores of us on FlyterTalk saw that you were doing this long ago, and now you’re getting *really* bad press for it. I’ve cancelled my AmEx Delta card and have no interest in accumulating DL miles.

    It’s easy to trash your reputation with the flying public, and you’ve done that. It won’t be so easy to rebuild that reputation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randall.b.dunham Randall B. Dunham

    This is not an accurate statement that Mary Jane made. The actual change is that M class no longer provides 150%. B class still provides 150%. That said, this is an unfortunate change. As a 2 million mile Diamond member with Delta, I can honestly say that I almost always love flying Delta. Unfortunately, without qualification, I can also say that I hate trying to book a mileage award on Delta. Hard to find (e.g., broken calendar), and highly priced.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.greenlee.71 Jim Greenlee

    As a charter Diamond Million Miler, I am saddened to witness the DETERIOATING if not disintegrating mileage program. I can ditto every blog re: inavailability ir not inflated miles cost. I havie recently booked AA to Europe @ 100,000 busisness when DL wanted 280k

    Cancelled plans to Australia in Nov (booked in Dec) when miles never went down even though seats appear wide open. I actually began booking 330 d out and NEVER were any reasonable seats there.

    I have occasionally found seats for less with triple connections on a circuitous route BUT get real DL — No one wants a 36 hour flight when NS is only 16.

    Long way of saying I’m out of here: Cancelling DL RESERVE, and going back to AA & UA where I rarely had difficulty booking awards.

    Sadly, JRG

  • Steve

    Delta took away my miles in December of 2011 because I hadn’t flown or BOUGHT miles in a year,….then January 2012 they said that all miles are forever,…how convenient for THEM. Delta and all of the other airlines are worthless any more,…no reason to be loyal to any of them. They took away free food,.,
    .free pillows,. ,.free blankets, ..soda ,..took away as much leg room as they can get away with…. unless you want to pay MORE,.. and increased all flight tickets. Flying used to be almost fun, and now it is a pain,.. along with all of the security checks and people stealing stuff out of your luggage because you can’t lock it anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ernest.w.smith.18 Ernest W Smith

    I’m only 20K from being Million Miler and have Delta AMEX and 300,000 miles in Skymiles account. Not even trying to fly Delta anymore. Can NEVER redeem miles except for the highest level redemption. I only try to use them on international flights to Middle East, and NEVER any availability. I even took all of one Sunday afternoon and went through the full 330 days to see when flights were available. No luck. Called Elite customer service to complain. She said change my dates. I asked her to go through availability for 330 days and find me a seat. She declined and said she could only do 45 days and would make a report to her manager about lack of availability. Still got no seat. Complained to AMEX about availability of mileage redemption seats and agent told me they were working with Delta to resolve these issues and complaints. Still got no seat. Dumping Delta AMEX card along with Delta.

  • R Fleck

    I have started getting rid of my Delta miles however I can and am now focusing on using either American or United whenever possible. When choosing flights Delta now is my 3rd or 4th option.

  • Jan Gita Keshen

    Totally agree. I just tried to book two business seats to Rome. 331 days out and still nothing for 100K miles.
    Frustrated!!!
    Lots of options came up with connections to Alitalia flights but the agent told me to “ignore” those because they’re not really available yet???

  • Thomas Bente

    They deserve to be slammed hard for holding back on their “low” mileage award seats. This has been a major problem for years now and has prevented this Million Miler from traveling DL when given any choice.

  • CMH322

    In my experience in the past year, I have attempted to book three sets of award tickets, and have been rather successful on Delta.

    DTW-FRA in BusinessElite for 100k/person round trip
    CMH-SXM in Coach for 45k/person round trip
    CMH-LAX in First/Coach for 35k/person round trip

    You need to book early, and be flexible with your dates. If so, the stuff is there. Not saying it’s the greatest, but you can make it work for you.

  • CMH322

    Agreed. The calendar is hard to use. It’s almost easier to call and book. A lot of the times, the mileage it asks for isn’t even feasible for a round trip. For an INTL itinerary where you connect, I think it will calculate the domestic ticket plus the international ticket, which is where you get the odd values.

  • semsem5

    And yet they are doing very well.

    In addition they don’t give one way awards though they never expire.

    The AMX card is also a bad card as in Europe many don’t accept American Express.

    To Europe in the summer you need 120,000 miles double everyone else.

    The whole program sucks.

  • Elenor

    No, I don’t think so. Not koolaid but just a different experience of Delta!

    I certainly have sympathy of the folks who travel often and must fight with Delta to get seats. However, I have never had a problem getting biz class transcon, and always for the dates (and seats) I want. But I usually fly transcon only once a year (ATL TO LAX). This year, I flew United (ATL to DEN to LAX; okay, that WAS a Delta scheduling problem) for a wedding. Pre-boarding, I was looking forward (a bit desperately) to the bottled water that always sits at Delta biz class seats when I board. Nope. United doesn’t do that. And there was no TV in the seat back, and no TV at all in the entire biz/first class section. And we didn’t get served any water till nearly an hour into the flight. And the seats (and plane) were old and grungy… I was just amazed at HUGE difference in quality between Delta and United. (And, yes, the FAs were nicer on Delta.) (And I flew Delta, nonstop, home.)

    I also flew Delta biz class ATL to LAX twice this year on points — and had no problem getting a seat, and both were wonderful experiences. And, weird travel year for me, I also flew Delta ATL to FLL in biz (“first”): paid money but not too much for my seat (in Sept for a Dec flight), and Delta was, again, wonderful.

    I may be ‘paying’ more in points than the lowest-possible, cheapest, most skin-flint fares (I never bothered to check; even standard-level is usually cheaper than paying money), but I am very happy with Delta metal and service; and while not thrilled about how hard it is to earn “SkyPesos” I will continue to earn miles with my Delta AMEX Gold, and fly them when I can afford to.

    I’m going for *value*; not just cheapest fare — but my schedule allows me to do that. So, no koolaid for me thanks; I’m just willing to pay more for a better product! (And, no I do not work for Delta, I own a small mfg co.)

  • Yo! Mama!

    I have to agree with the comments below–and I would like to add that even when I call Delta Skymiles a month or two ahead to book (because it’s impossible to do on the website if there’s any complication to the schedule), I’ve been told an upgrade to business for points is available, only to have the upgrade refused for no discernible reason by KLM! KLM is the only game in town as a Delta partner from my point of departure, and if I book with KLM rather than Delta, the flight is sometimes up to $1000 cheaper than booking with Delta, but points are not always earned correctly–and there are additional problems flying within the US on Delta regarding luggage AND if I upgrade while traveling after having bought a Delta ticket, KLM re-issues the ticket themselves, and points become problematic again. There are real issues with the Delta/KLM partnership for frequent flyers–and this has been going on for the past four years at least with no solutions. I am seriously considering switching to United after all these years (more than 20) of loyalty with Delta–i fly other airlines as necessary, but I have chosen Delta whenever possible. i recently flew Qatar to the Philipines, and it was excellent!