DL Schedule Change Allows for Awesome Australia Award Flights (Non-Stop JFK-LAX-SYD both ways)!

by Adam

In only two months since using SkyMiles to book my less than ideal award flights to Australia, I now have the perfect itinerary! Non-stop flights from JFK-LAX and then LAX-Sydney via Virgin Australia on the outbound and Sydney-LAX on Delta’s direct flight (unheard of for awards) on the return, connecting to LAX-JFK…all in Business!

Here’s how the trip came together:

Back at the beginning of August we noted excellent Virgin Australia Business Award Availability using SkyMiles in Feb as well as a few dates in December and January. The outbound flights from the US were essentially wide-open, but the returns were not. I wanted to travel during the Xmas / New Year’s holiday which made things even more difficult.

The first award I was able to grab on the dates I wanted to travel required a connection in Detroit (in Economy) to get me to LAX, once there I would connect to Virgin Australia…but to Brisbane, requiring a connection onward to Sydney. The return was a disaster, but we’ll get to that below.

Original DL Australia 1a

Not even two weeks later, the first schedule change email was received and while it wasn’t the required 60 minutes, I still called in with the objective of getting the non-stop flights. Less than 15 minutes later I had JFK-LAX and LAX-SYD for my outbound flights…that international reissue desk works miracles. My return though was not touched as there were no schedule changes. The trip would require flying China Eastern from Sydney to Shanghai, then Delta from Shanghai to LAX, and then Delta LAX-JFK (a total of 33+ hours).

Original DL Australia 2

Well, late Saturday night I received another one of those amazing schedule change emails from Delta.  It was actually a positive change in terms of total flight time, but a change nonetheless (about 40 minutes). Back on the phone, one call, a transfer to the international reissue desk, a very friendly agent and BOOM -> Delta’s non-stop flight from Sydney to LAX (which is usually only available for 300K or more SkyMiles each way) as well as a the continuing flight to JFK.  All in business.  There was only one seat left in business so an internal email was sent to release the award inventory. With a total LOW level price for this itinerary of 80K SkyMiles each way, the 12+ hour China detour was no longer necessary!

Original DL Australia 3

Even more exciting, the outbound will hopefully have Virgin’s new business class (see – Virgin Australia Re-Confirms New Business Class on B777 LAX Routes! Check out Video of the New Cabin…). UPDATE 🙁 Virgin has now confirmed that these aircraft won’t enter US service until Spring 2016

Moral of this story – if you can book a low level award with your SkyMiles do it (especially if your trip is months away)!  It does not matter if the flights are not ideal, there will likely be a schedule change and Delta is quite generous with the power that comes with those). Later this week I’ll be discussing the Aeroflot change strategy which allows for Low level DL direct flights to Europe and resulted in my parent’s obtaining award flights to Madrid and back from Barcelona on Delta.  See more on the “mighty schedule change rule” as Rene calls it here.

Need assistance with your next award trip? Consider the Juicy Miles award booking service for all your redemption needs.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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14 comments

shaun October 5, 2015 - 10:36 am

It seems delta is good about opening up space on their own flights for a schedule change. How accommodating are they for letting you switch days? For example, if I find low level space ATL to Europe on a Wednesday and there is a schedule change, will let let me change to a Friday departure? If so, would they let you move a February trip to more desirable summer departure?

Guess I’m just trying to gauge the limits to their generosity.

Reply
Adam October 5, 2015 - 10:45 am

@shaun – I’ve been able to move 1 day forward or back…

Reply
ATLJason October 5, 2015 - 10:56 am

I had the same thing happen on United. Grudgingly booked 2 business class seats ATL-SFO-ICN-SYD on a combination of United and Asiana. It was going to be a long haul but at least it would get us to Sydney. Not two weeks after I booked, United had a schedule change which gave me a 26 minute connection in SFO to transfer to an international Asiana flight. I called them up and in less than 10 minutes the agent had us re-booked ATL-SFO-SYD. Whoo-hoo! Unfortunately we’re still coming through Tokyo on the way back, but the trip’s not until February 2016 so I still have some time. Hoping for another schedule change!

Reply
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star October 11, 2015 - 4:30 pm

I read your post yesterday and it prompted me to look at Delta to see if my SFO-LAX-SYD flight (I have that same VA 2 flight!) had any flight schedule changes. Sure enough, there was a change, but when I called it turned out to be a plane change on the SFO-LAX leg, not an actual schedule change. 🙁 Still hoping for a schedule change before February so I can cancel without penalty! I rebooked SFO-LAX-SYD on Virgin America using 25k points. Dramatic retelling: http://demflyers.com/2015/10/11/a-costly-redemption-mistake-and-its-repercussions/

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