FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - The Definitive "How To Search for Low Tier Business Awards"
Old Dec 19, 09, 1:04 pm
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: KUL/TPA/OTP
Programs: UA1k, DL
Posts: 3,136
The Definitive "How To Search for Low Tier Business Awards"

Folks, it's been fun. Delta recently revised the award booking process, changing the way in which we were once able to price segments together. As such, much of the below is no longer applicable. With that said, our good friend michael_v has started a new thread, focussed on booking trips with miles via the new process, which is located here:

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Update 8/4/13: 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 or a DL agent price the entire itinerary at the low level. Unfortunately, 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. 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, 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 multi segment search (note-not all partner flights are available via 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 revisions.

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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.


Last edited by Denolloyd; Feb 5, 15 at 9:25 pm Reason: Added revised details on search process...
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