DISCOVER HIDDEN SKYMILES AWARDS. Delta.com has its fair share of kinks that you must work through when booking SkyMiles award tickets. But, there is a way to reveal those hard-to-find seats at the lowest redemption level. Here’s how: Simply sign up for Air France-KLM’s FlyingBlue frequent flyer program. That’s right…use another airline’s web site to find Delta and partner airline flights. Just look for “Classic” awards, which are the same as Delta’s lowest level redemptions. The FlyingBlue web site also searches Air France, KLM, Alitalia, CSA Czech, and Kenya Airways award availability. To enroll, sign up free here. You can then call Delta directly to book the flights that show Classic availability for Delta’s lowest mileage level. Delta.com does show Air France, KLM, and Alaska partner availability and allows you to search a month at a time. However, it is temperamental and not always accurate. Try using the FlyingBlue site to do your research and find more opportunities to use your SkyMiles—and let us know it this works better for you! We’d love to hear your feedback.
SUPER-DUPER JUMBOS AT ATL? Atlanta is preparing to welcome the world’s biggest airliner, the Airbus A380 by spending $30 million to widen taxiways and runway shoulders and make terminal improvements that will enable it to handle the double-decker jumbo jet. Air France could bring theirs in during peak summer travel season next year. While it won’t yet commit to it, Korean Air says that Atlanta is one of the US gateways under consideration for its biggest blue bird. KAL starts A380 flights this summer between Seoul and New York-JFK, and then to Los Angeles-LAX in October. (SIDELINE: Have you seen Air France’s lovely new bird? Here’s a gorgeous video made by your TICKET editor Chris McGinnis of its first A380 touching down on cool cloudy San Francisco earlier this month.)
GOOD MAY AT ATL. AirTran and Delta ranked second and third, after first place Alaska Air, in on-time performance for the month of May according to FlightStats.com.
OVERSEAS BAGGAGE CHARGES. Flying across the pond this summer? On Delta, the first checked bag when flying overseas is free, and the second bag is a whopping $75 (or $60 if purchased online). Delta has reduced the weight allowance from 70 lbs to just 50 lbs per bag for international coach passengers (including Medallions). If you travel heavy, be sure to weigh your bag ahead of time to avoid the additional $75 overweight bag fee. (Note: The 70 lb bag weight limit with no fee remains in effect for first/biz class passengers.)
NO WI-FI ON THIS DELTA JET? Delta now offers Gogo Wi-Fi access on all of its mainline aircraft that regularly fly domestic routes. But remember that international aircraft flying domestic legs DO NOT have Wi-Fi. If you are unsure if your plane is an internationally configured aircraft, check the layout of the Business Elite/First Class cabin. Boeing 767 aircraft have four rows up front on domestic aircraft. If your plane has more than four rows in First/Business Elite, then you are on an international aircraft that will not have Wi-Fi. Boeing 757s can be trickier as some international planes are used on domestic routes between New York and LAX/SFO. The international 757s have four rows up front whereas domestic planes have six or seven rows up front. The latter are guaranteed to have Wi-Fi while not all of the international 757s do. No Airbus A330s, Boeing 747s, or Boeing 777s have Wi-Fi access. Domestic routes that may use international aircraft include ATL-LAX, DTW-LAX, ATL-DTW, ATL-LAS, and ATL-JFK.
QUAD MILES AT MARRIOTT. Marriott Rewards is offering quadruple Delta SkyMiles to those who stay at any Marriott brand at least twice between June 1 and August 31. Registration is required.
ECONOMY COMFORT IS HERE. Delta is now rolling out its new Economy Plus seating in the first few rows of all of aircraft flying international routes. Seats are designated with a special headrest cover sporting the Economy Comfort logo. Other benefits include priority boarding and complimentary mixed drinks. The best benefit, though, are the four extra inches of legroom and improved recline. The seats are now available for sale on delta.com. Until now, it was pure luck if customers assigned to those rows flew an equipped plane. Now, delta.com sells the Economy Plus for a nominal fee on the flights that have it making it easier to get a modicum of comfort out of your long-haul coach experience. Of course, Platinum and Diamond Medallion passengers get access to the seats for free.
NEW BLACK BOX. Under development: Aircraft black boxes that transmit data to satellites instead of going down with the plane (as was the case with Air France 447 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.)
THE TICKET ON FACEBOOK: Are you signed up for our FACEBOOK page? If so, you would have learned first about nifty nuggets like a Delta/Zappos promo, a report on Delta’s average fleet age, or when AirTran will dump its ATL-Dallas/Ft Worth nonstops. Come on! LIKE The TICKET on Facebook today!
DID YOU KNOW… that airlines are now raking more fee income from checked baggage than they are from those onerous $150 change fees?
THE NEVER ENDING BONUS. It’s baaack! Delta and American Express are again offering mega bonuses for first time transfers from Amex Membership Rewards points to Sky Miles. The promotion requires registration. Transfer as few as 1,000 Amex points to Delta and receive a 50% bonus. So 1,000 Amex points becomes 1,500 SkyMiles. Plus if you transfer 100,000 Amex points, you will receive 25,000 MQMs (good for Silver Medallion) and 150,000 miles. This is only valid for first time transfers so if you have taken advantage of this promotion in the past then you are not eligible this time around. The offer is good until Sept. 30. NOTE: If you’ve transferred miles before and you don’t qualify for the above bonus, Delta’s got you covered… those who have transferred before can earn a 25%-40% bonus with a different promo that requires registration.
AMEX PLATINUM BONUS. Speaking of American Express Membership Rewards points, don’t forget to stop into any SkyClub if you have the AMEX Platinum card. Currently, all guests who enter a Delta lounge using the AMEX Platinum card (not the Delta-affiliated SkyMiles card) will receive a certificate good for 300 Membership Rewards points.
TO FLY…OR DRIVE? That is the question for a lot of TICKET readers. To help answer it, check out the cool Fly or Drive Calculator from BeFrugal.com. This site helps answer the age-old question among frequent travelers…. Whether it makes more financial sense to drive or fly to your destination. What’s clever about this calculator is that it allows users to enter specific data about their trip, which helps it come up with a specific answer.
THE TICKET PRINT-FRIENDLY VERSION IS BACK! YAY! For all of you who’ve been asking us to bring back a print version of The TICKET, we’ve now got you covered. Scroll down to the bottom of this post, look for the row of icons across the bottom and choose “PRINT WITH PRINT FRIENDLY.” Easy!
BETTER DINING AT DELTA GATES. Remember Delta’s major overhaul of restaurants at its terminal in LaGuardia last year? Well, they’re doing it again, but this time in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Plans include an upgrade to the dining options in the terminal with several new restaurants including Minnesota Beer Hall, a Japanese noodle and dumplings bar, a raw bar and brasserie, a grab-and-go gourmet food outlet, and an eatery under the direction of Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods fame. Another unique feature Delta is testing at the airport is the rental of pre-loaded iPads featuring movies and games. Travelers can take them on board their flights and then mail them back upon landing. Like!
WI-FI AT ATL. While Atlanta remains one of the declining number of airports that charge full freight for Wi-Fi, some airports are rolling out a tiered system: Free for basic access such as email access, but a premium for heavy duty access for streaming or loading photos, programs, etc. Some hotels are already doing this. Thoughts?
COCKTAILS ANYONE? Delta is bringing back some of its signature cocktails for summer with the new “Margaritaville” mixed with tequila. The “Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey” combines Jack Daniels bourbon, honey liqueur, and ginger ale. Both are available for $7 in economy. Don’t forget that Medallion members can use free drink coupons that come in their annual renewal package for these drinks. (We’ve also seen Delta offers free drink coupons to Medallions who don’t get an upgrade and check in online…have you?) If you’re worried about alcohol breath, don’t worry, Wrigley’s Gum is also being added to Delta’s EATS food for sale menu.
WHO PAYS FOR FIRST CLASS? Passengers from the following cities purchased the most first class airline tickets in the first five months of this year: Beverly Hills, Greenwich CT, Atherton CA, Palm Beach FL, Haverford PA. Source: Airlines Reporting Corporation.
HELP A SICK KID, EARN SKYMILES. Delta has teamed up with the Children’s Miracle Network, which is hoping to reach $100 million in donations this year to help fund 170 childrens’ hospitals throughout North America. SkyMiles members who donate $50 or more by June 30 earn 1000 miles. Donate here.
PLAY BALL WITH DELTA. In New York for a Mets or Yankees game? Well, Delta has you covered, sponsoring free water taxis from either South Street Seaport or East 53rd Street Ferry Landing to all home games. Tickets are free on the two Delta-branded water taxis operated by New York Water Taxi. Taxis depart 90 minutes before opening pitch. On board, enjoy Delta-signature Fly Ball cocktails or other drinks and snacks while basking in the sun on the boat’s open deck. Reservations are not allowed, and each taxi can only take 147 people so be sure to get there early.
AIRFRANCE-KLM ELITES GET MORE THAN ME? Reciprocity ain’t always fair…Did you know that Air France-KLM elites get complimentary upgrades when traveling on Delta flights? It’s true. Their domestic upgrades are back in full force (a remnant of the agreement that Northwest originally had with KLM). To be fair, foreign elites only clear after every single Delta Elite has had the chance for the upgrade. Still, it’s a shame that Delta elites cannot be upgraded to Air France-KLM’s premium product within Europe. But, again in the spirit of fairness, not even Air France-KLM elites have the chance for free upgrades within Europe. Delta elites still come out on top, but don’t be surprised if you see partner elites inquiring with gate agents about upgrades.
DELTA DOWN UNDER. Delta and V Australia have announced a further codeshare on additional routes to Perth, Canberra and Adelaide in Australia plus Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. This means more redemption opportunities for Delta Sky Miles members and opportunities to earn miles when booking flights on codeshare tickets. Initially, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne were the only cities included in that agreement. Sky Club members also benefit from access to V Australia lounges across Australia as well.
JUNE BABIES. If you were born in June, be sure to try and register for this promotion offering 1,500 bonus SkyMiles for a roundtrip flight flown before July 31. It is a targeted offer so not everyone may be eligible. You also receive a $100 discount on a future Delta Vacations package. While Delta has offered more lucrative birthday bonuses in the past, this one is better than nothing. Remember to insure that your birthday is listed in your Delta.com profile so that you can be included in similar future offers. Register at dmn.delta.com/ace_offers/june_bday/
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