Here’s how I flew Delta on their non-stops to Europe twice this summer while my parents were also able to enjoy non-stop flights to/from Spain…all at the LOW SkyMiles level. Thanks Aeroflot! As I tracked SkyMiles award flights to Europe, Aeroflot consistently showed availability for 2 Business awards (most days in July and August). As the weeks went on (and no DL awards popped up besides London…also consistently available on DL and VS aircraft from JFK), I started noticing that the Aeroflot flight times would move. Normally, within 30-50 minutes of the original time. I decided to pull the trigger, hope for continued movement, and then take advantage of the “mighty schedule change rule” as Rene calls it. As mentioned, I never noticed a schedule change of 60 minutes or greater, but Delta is normally lenient on the exact length. Aeroflot bookings on DL can be tricky…here are the steps I took:
- Delta’s site would always show availability to Moscow, but often times the connections to other European cities would not price, even though they were available when searching Moscow – European city. This was the case for Madrid and Barcelona for my parent’s 40th Anniversary trip. Therefore, I simply booked JFK-SVO and SVO-JFK on the exact days they wanted to fly to and from Spain
- Next, using the 24 hour free change rule, I called Delta and asked them to add the Madrid and Barcelona legs. Look at those connections (almost 12 hours to Madrid and you can’t leave the airport). The total travel time to and from Spain was also significantly longer than it should have been when departing from the NYC area. My parents were not going to be happy if they actually had to fly this itinerary…I kept it to myself
- WAITING… It took only 3 weeks for a significant enough change (in my mind) to occur (37 minutes on the outbound). A quick call to SkyMiles, a transfer to the international reissue desk, and BOOM non-stop JFK-Madrid on the outbound. Better yet, the agent said she had some other really great news for me (I had mentioned that it was my parent’s anniversary trip)…they were putting them on the non-stop return flight from Barcelona as well!
The NYC-Spain-NYC flights were pricing at the HIGH level for all of these dates in Business. However, my parents paid 125,000 SkyMiles each roundtrip.
ONE BIG CAVEAT – Aeroflot DOES charge a fuel surcharge, on this itinerary it was a very pricey $298.80 per person. For other European cities it is even higher. For us, we looked at it as a redemption fee – we were able to redeem at the low level on Delta, save a ton of points, and get direct flights to Spain (this is sadly what it’s come down to on DL). These same flights in business were pricing over $4500 roundtrip for the same dates. An alternative would have been to fly DL to London and then connect to Air Europa or buy a cheap flight to Madrid / Barcelona. However, I wanted my parents on the direct flights for this special occasion. When you switch to the DL flights, you are not given a refund of the Aeroflot surcharges as schedule changes are processed as even exchanges.
Only a few months later, I used the mighty schedule change rule to secure low level business class seats to/from Australia on non-stop flights from LAX…including Delta’s own metal which they never release with low pricing. Luckily, no fuel surcharges on that one! See – DL Schedule Change Allows for Awesome Australia Award Flights (Non-Stop JFK-LAX-SYD both ways)
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