You’ve accumulated miles in Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program. Now you will want to book an award ticket on the airline. After all, if you’re chasing frequent flyer miles, you’ll want to use them. Fortunately, booking Delta award tickets, especially U.S. domestic awards, is an easy process
Here’s how to book a Delta award ticket.
Booking award tickets on Delta is easy
Booking an award ticket on Delta is easy and follows the same process as booking a ticket using money. Practically every flight on Delta can be booked with miles. The Delta website is easy to use. It even let you compare prices across several dates and toggle between prices in miles and prices in cash.
To start your search, simply enter your search on the Delta website and click the “Shop with Miles” search box. If you have some flexibility in your dates, you can tick the “My dates are flexible” box.
If you’re searching for a round trip with flexible dates, you’ll see a table like the one below. This matrix display will be centered around your search dates. You’ll see the lowest award pricing for every departure/return combination available within three days of your original search.
Once you have selected your outbound and return dates, you’ll select your specific outbound flight. This page will look familiar if you’ve booked tickets using Delta.com before.
At the top of the page, you can toggle between prices in US Dollars, Miles, or the Miles + Cash option. This can be helpful if you’re deciding whether to book your ticket using cash or using miles.
Check the Cards and Points valuations when comparing prices. If you’re getting more value from your miles than our valuation, it’s likely to be an excellent use of your SkyMiles.
You can typically ignore the Miles + Cash option, as it offers poor value for your Delta SkyMiles.
Select your origin and destination flights and check out as you normally would when booking a cash ticket. If you’re not logged in to Delta.com, you will be prompted to log in during checkout.
If you hold a Delta SkyMiles Gold, Platinum, or Reserve credit card, you’ll see your discounted pricing including the Delta Take15Off discount. Holders of these premium Delta credit cards receive a 15% discount on the number of miles it costs to book any Delta-operated award flight on Delta.com.
Booking through your phone
You can also book award flights through the Delta mobile app or Delta’s mobile website. Because screen real estate is limited on mobile devices, Delta doesn’t offer the calendar view of flexible date pricing through its mobile channels. But you can still toggle between flight prices in miles and the same flight prices in cash.
If your travel dates are flexible, your best bet is to book through Delta.com on the desktop version of the Delta website.
How Delta determines award prices
Delta Air Lines uses revenue-based pricing to determine the prices of its award flights. This means that the prices the airline charges in terms of miles will track the prices of the same flights in terms of dollars. So, if you see a $120 flight that costs 10,000 Delta SkyMiles to book, you can expect that any other similarly-priced flight will cost a similar amount of SkyMiles.
Delta’s award prices seem to float within a range, but award prices typically give you between 1.1 and 1.4 cents per point for most redemptions. Be sure to check Cards and Points valuations when booking any award ticket if you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your miles. If you’re substantially lower value than our published valuation, you might want to consider using cash instead of your miles.
One-way vs. round trip
Most Delta awards in the United States, outside of Delta flash sales, offer similar pricing for both round-trip tickets and one-way tickets.
If you don’t have enough miles for your round-trip ticket, consider booking two one-way tickets. You can book one direction with cash and the other direction with miles. Pricing is likely to be similar to round-trip pricing.
Credit card to use when booking award tickets
While you might suspect that using a Delta credit card to book your award tickets is the best option. After all, you’re getting a “free” flight from your Delta miles and that probably makes you want to earn more miles. But for most people, the Delta co-branded credit cards are not going to be the best cards to use to book your award ticket.
Most Delta awards have a very small cash co-pay of taxes and fees. If you’re booking a U.S. domestic trip, you’re not going to earn many miles from the $5.60 you charge to your credit card.
It is best to book with a card that offers trip delay protection, when booking flights. Trip delay protection provides reimbursement for incidentals such as meals, toiletries, and hotel stays if your flight is delayed overnight. Trip Delay protection is a benefit of some premium travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard is a credit card that offers trip delay protection with no annual fee.
If possible, it is a good idea to book with a card that offers baggage delay insurance and lost luggage reimbursement. Airlines must compensate you for incidentals if your bag is delayed and for the value of your bag if it is lost or damaged. But getting compensation through your credit card insurance is likely to be easier.