Have you ever been frustrated when trying to book an award ticket using frequent flyer miles?
I was arranging a trip home for our daughter on short notice. We were bound by school schedules and had very little leeway in terms of flight choices. Delta Airlines offered a nonstop flight with departures and arrivals within our time constraints.
The flights we wanted to book were showing availability on Delta, but there were no award seats available. Sound familiar?
The award seats that were showing up for connecting flights would entail adding several hours of travel time; in other words, the more attractive routings were not offered as award seats.
For some unknown reason, the nonstop flights on this route are less expensive than the flights involving plane changes. The flight in question was priced at $653 roundtrip. My husband had 60,000 miles in his Skymiles account, which he had obtained by opening an Amex Skymiles Credit Card through a targeted offer.
What to do?
We noticed an interesting feature on the Delta reservations website: Pay with Miles. Pay with Miles is a feature available only to Delta Skymile credit card holders.
Pay with Miles can be used to redeem your Skymiles towards all or part of the price of a Delta tickets. This can be useful if you do not have enough points in your account to pay for an award ticket; or, as in our case, if award bookings are not available for the flight you want.
As you’d expect there’s a catch — Pay with Miles is only offered on “eligible” flights. There are no blackout dates, and the option is available for any open seat. Pay with Miles not not a bargain, either. For fares less than $100, you have to redeem 25,000 miles to cover the total fare.
For fares between $250 and $1,000, the rules require you to:
- Redeem 10,000 miles for $100 off the total fare ; or
- Increase the redemption in increments of 5,000 miles ($50 off) to cover all or part of the total fare (15,000 miles for $150 off, 20,000 miles for $200 off, etc.)
The only form of payment accepted for partial redemptions is a Delta SkyMiles credit card, and the option to pay with miles is only available to people with 10,000 or more miles in their frequent flyer account. The rules for flight cancellations are complicated. In general, refunds are not made in Skymiles, but rather as e-credit toward a future flight.
In our case, we were able to get our daughter home for 60,000 miles and $53. Not exactly free, but not too bad for a cross-country flight!
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