August 14, 2021

The Best Program for Booking Delta Domestic Flights

Delta Airlines Book a Flight: For years, the best deal for booking domestic flights was usually finding award availability via a foreign airline partner and using those British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, or Avianca LifeMiles (for example) to book your domestic tickets on American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or United Airlines. That was either because foreign programs charged fewer miles for the same awards, had better change or cancellation fees, or in many cases both of those things. 

For years, the best deal for booking domestic flights was usually finding award availability via a foreign airline partner and using those British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, or Avianca LifeMiles (for example) to book your domestic tickets on America, Delta, or United. That was either because foreign programs charged fewer miles for the same awards, had better change or cancellation fees, or in many cases both of those things. 

Delta Flight Booking: The Best Domestic Travel Program

One of the challenges from the GUC trip Greg and I are hoping to take is for me to get meaningful Delta elite status from that trip. Assuming that indeed happens, I’ll want to actually fly Delta domestically in order to take advantage of my status (or position myself to move up in status depending on how it works out). Given the various bonuses, Delta is offering this year as shortcuts to elite status and the fact that the increased MQMs I could earn this year will roll over to next year, I was considering flying Delta to the west coast for a family wedding this fall. On the dates I searched from my small market home airport to a major west coast airport, here were the prices I encountered in terms of cash, Delta SkyMiles awards, and using Amex Membership Rewards points (prices shown are net prices assuming you have the Business Platinum card and have selected the correct airline) or Chase Ultimate Rewards points (prices shown assume you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve).

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Delta Economy class

  • Cash price: $157
  • Award: 10,500 Delta miles + $5.60
  • Amex points: 10,205 with Business Platinum (net)
  • Chase points: 10,467 with Sapphire Reserve

Delta Premium economy

  • Cash price: $317
  • Award: 24K Delta miles + $5.60
  • Amex points: 20,605 with Business Platinum (net)
  • Chase points: 21,133 with Sapphire Reserve

Delta Business Class

  • Cash: $1807
  • Award: 115K + $5.60
  • Amex points: 117,455 with Business Platinum (net)
  • Chase points: 120,467 with Sapphire Reserve

As you can see above, in all but the Delta business class example, flights cost fewer net points when using either Membership Rewards (with the Business Platinum for that card’s pay-with-points rebate) or Chase Ultimate Rewards. Even in the business class example (where the cash price of this flight was insanely out of whack with the market), the results are still pretty close. I left that crazy business class price in there rather than selecting a more reasonably-priced alternative to make the point that the flexible points were looking good at that outlier end of the spectrum also.

And that’s ignoring the fact that paid tickets earn miles – both redeemable and status miles. In Delta’s case, even award tickets earn credit toward elite status this year and next year, but only paid tickets earn redeemable miles. That would bring the net cost down further yet depending on how you value the miles and whether or not you have status with Delta. This wasn’t an isolated situation, it’s just one example of a phenomenon I saw over and over. I found this particularly interesting with premium economy / Comfort+, where I had thought that Delta awards in the low 20K’s per passenger sounded reasonable to me. Award tickets still weren’t as good a deal as using bank points.

Ok, but that’s just Delta and there are no good partner sweet spots left to book those same flights for fewer miles. 

Here are some various Delta airlines reservations phone numbers given below:

  • Delta airlines reservations phone number for SkyMiles: 1 (800) 221-1212
  • Delta airlines reservations number for travel agents: 1-806-853-5567
  • Delta airlines reservations phone number for United States customers: 1-806-853-5567
  • The phone number for Delta airlines reservations for Australia customers: 1800 458 368
  • Delta airlines reservations contact number for Europe customers: +44 (0)800-783-0747
  • Delta airlines reservation Assistance by Language: Spanish (En Español) 800-511-9629 Chinese 800-327-2850
  • Delta reservations phone number for International sales and services: 800-241-4141
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