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Old Dec 19, 09, 12:04 pm   #1
 
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The Definitive "How To Search for Low Tier Business Awards"

Update 8/4/13: DL.com has changed somewhat over the years, thus the details in the initial post may no longer be 100% valid.

Updated Info:
The best way to search for awards is segment by segment. The purpose of such a tedious search is, providing you are able to find awards at the low level for each segment, you can have DL.com or a DL agent price the entire itinerary at the low level. Unfortunately, DL.com is not "smart" enough to search for every available routing option, thus if a particular leg of an itinerary happens to only be available at the "mid" or "high" level, the entire itinerary result in a a higher than low mileage requirement, even if there is a lower option available.

Essentially, if one were to want to travel from TPA to LHR, most would plug in Tampa as the originating city and London as the destination. DL.com would then search for routing options between the two cities, and perhaps return a mileage requirement of 225k. A lot of miles, I know. this is not the best way to search for award options.

A segment by segment search would be more ideal. The initial search should be performed for the TATL leg. I generally start with MSP as it tends to have more low options than others (search MSP-LHR). If I find seating at the low level, I make a note of the flight number, departure time, etc. If no low level was found, I'd move to another US city, and search say BOS-LHR. This would continue until I find a low level seat.

Assuming I found the low option for MSP-LHR, next I would search for my domestic flight needed to get to MSP. This search for me would be TPA-MSP. Multiple flights will be listed, but in order to have a low award for the entire trip, I must select a low for this leg as well. Providing I find one, again, I take note of the flight number / details. I then perform the exact same type of search (segment by segment) for the return, taking notes of the low flights I find along the way.

Finally, providing I found all legs at the low level, I plug each leg within the multiple segment search option, using the dates in which I found the low flights. After clicking submit, DL.com will return all available flights, and I'd select the flight numbers I wrote down previously, for each respective segment. In the end, providing the correct flights were selected, the award should price at the low level. If my destination were OTP rather than LHR, I would search LHR - OTP, find a flight, and add to the DL.com multi segment search (note-not all partner flights are available via DL.com. Other award inventory systems may be required for locating seats on certain partnersi.e. expertflyer, seatguru, flyingblue etc.).

See below for additional details, again keeping in mind some items have changed due to DL.com revisions.

================================================== ========================

I posted this quick guide to Business Award searches in another thread, but after a number of folks mentioned how great it worked for them, I decided to create a separate thread. Also, if anyone else has tips which may be beneficial, please post them as well.

I will be the first to say DL's award engine is horrendous at best, however there are ways around it.

Now for the guide (please note, although this guide was created to assist with travel from the US past AMS/CDG, it is also beneficial for others).

For awards beyond AMS / CDG in Business, the best way to search is the following:

Search for USA - AMS / CDG ONE WAY by Mileage.

In the flights displayed, look for those priced at 100,000, with seating in First / Business.

Do this over and over until you find a 100,000 mile one way routing.

Next, perform another one way search for AMS/CDG - EU. I generally find plenty of EU [ inventory available.

Then, perform the same in reverse for your travel back to the US.

Once you find one way itineraries at the low mileage level, you perform a multi-segment award search. Be sure to select the flights you found earlier in the process at the low tiers.

Sometimes you may have to break down the segments even further such as TPA-ATL, ATL-CDG, CDG-OTP, in order to find the lowest available tiers.

This is how I book my award travel in Business to OTP. Takes a bit of work, but it can be done.

Brad...

Last edited by Denolloyd; Aug 4, 13 at 8:37 pm.. Reason: Added revised details on search process...
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Old Dec 19, 09, 12:12 pm   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denolloyd View Post
I posted this quick guide to Business Award searches in another thread, but after a number of folks mentioned how great it worked for them, I decided to create a desperate thread. Also, if anyone else has tips which may be beneficial, please post them as well.

I will be the first to say DL's award engine is horrendous at best, however there are ways around it.

Now for the guide (please note, although this guide was created to assist with travel from the US past AMS/CDG, it is also beneficial for all award bookings):

For awards beyond AMS / CDG in J, the best way to search is the following:

Search for USA - AMS / CDG ONE WAY in Y by Mileage.

In the flights displayed, look for those priced at 100,000, with seating in First / Business.

If you cannot find any 100,000 mile flights with First / Business seating, do another search but search for J this time.

Do this over and over until you find a 100,000 mile one way routing. Generally, it will be Business / First seats within your coach search. I think the problem most have is we tend to search for Business seats by selecting the business drop down. This is a big no no. Always select a coach search first, and seek business within, its often cheaper.

Next, perform another one way search in J for the AMS/CDG - EU. I generally find plenty of EU J inventory available.

Then, perform the same in reverse for your travel back to the US.

Once you find one way itineraries at the low mileage level, you perform a multi-segment award search. Be sure to select the flights you found earlier in the process at the low tiers.

Sometimes you may have to break down the segments even further such as TPA-ATL, ATL-CDG, CDG-OTP, in order to find the lowest available tiers.

One thing I have noticed is that so long as the DL Award Calendar shows J available at the low tier, it is, only you have to search to find it.

This is how I book my award travel in J to OTP. Takes a bit of work, but it can be done.

I am in the middle of packing for my trip tomorrow and will add more details later. Good luck.

Brad...
Great post!
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Old Dec 19, 09, 12:29 pm   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denolloyd View Post
I decided to create a desperate thread.
Did you mean a separate thread?

Anyway, thank you for posting this information to selflessly help fellow Delta forum FlyerTalk members.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 1:23 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by avidflyer View Post
Great post!
Thank you Sir!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canarsie View Post
Did you mean a separate thread?

Anyway, thank you for posting this information to selflessly help fellow Delta forum FlyerTalk members.
I sure did mean separate. Edited...


And my pleasure. Anything I can do to assist my fellow travelers.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 3:07 pm   #5
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Very helpful. Thank you.

One option that I ended up using for domestic flights combining DL/NW and partners is similar. I call DL to find out which partner flights have award availability (AS within Alaska for example). Then I go online and book using multi city and booking one segment at a time. No "mileage" level is given at the time of booking but it did price out at 25K miles including the free stop in Anchorage.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 3:27 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Denolloyd View Post

Anything I can do to assist my fellow travelers.
In that case, I would like two low miles J seats in early June from JFK to Toullouse and home from Madrid.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 3:37 pm   #7
 
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The problem is that connecting in CDG can be chaotic. Also, intra-Europe Business Class on Air France-KLM is a joke.

For those flyers wishing to use Skymiles to Europe, I would actually recommend that they call Delta. In my experience, award-winning Jet Airways (which flies from NY to Brussels daily) has had decent availability at the low award level.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 4:07 pm   #8
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Originally Posted by secretsea18 View Post
In that case, I would like two low miles J seats in early June from JFK to Toullouse and home from Madrid.
Travel agents used to pocket $500-600 for booking business class USA-Europe tickets. I'm confident Denolloyd could offer it for $400.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 4:13 pm   #9
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Travel agents used to pocket $500-600 for booking business class USA-Europe tickets. I'm confident Denolloyd could offer it for $400.
That was in the days when airlines paid commissions to most travel agencies (about 10 years ago) on paid tickets. Airlines still pay travel agent commissions for many international flights/airlines/routes and the good travel agents won't even charge you a service fee for those. But having the airline pay the travel agent and having the passenger pay the travel agent are two different things
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Old Dec 19, 09, 4:17 pm   #10
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Originally Posted by secretsea18 View Post
In that case, I would like two low miles J seats in early June from JFK to Toullouse and home from Madrid.
I found such one low miles ticket in ten minutes of searching - but Delta SkyMiles never has any low miles tickets.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 4:50 pm   #11
 
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I found such one low miles ticket in ten minutes of searching - but Delta SkyMiles never has any low miles tickets.
I should have mentioned in early June. Please.
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Old Dec 19, 09, 5:22 pm   #12
 
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Thanks for posting this Denolloyd!

I managed to burn most of mine before this year, but this will definitely come in handy when I'm trying to help friends and family out!
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Old Dec 19, 09, 5:29 pm   #13
 
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Brad,

Thank you very much for posting this incredible finding!

I am not interested in Europe at this time but checked a few award redemption possibilities between South America and the USA. This is what I found at www.delta.dum:
  • LIM-ORD OW: search in Y 90k for a BE flight, search in F 180k for exactly the same seat/class
  • LAX-LIM OW: search in Y 90k for a BE flight, search in F 120k for exactly the same seat/class
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Old Dec 19, 09, 10:24 pm   #14
 
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Thanks for posting this Denolloyd!
Denolloyd, you are the best!!!

I found NS LAX-CDG in J on a Friday in June!
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Old Jan 2, 10, 10:38 am   #15
 
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this worked perfectly!!!
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