One of the most frequent issues TICKET readers complain to us about is the difficulty they have getting the seats and flights they want when redeeming SkyMiles. So the results of a recent study by consulting firm IdeaWorks, which ranks airlines by award availability should come as no surprise– it shows that Delta ranked last (23rd out of 23) with the fewest low-level award seats available based on the nearly 7,000 queries it conducted. By contrast, Delta’s two largest competitors in Atlanta, Southwest and AirTran, rank in the top 10 when it comes to redemptions
According to the survey, seats were available a scant 27.1% of the time. However, IdeaWorks only performed the search online. We all know Delta has one of the klunkiest sites for redeeming miles, and this is something Delta has done nothing to correct despite constant promises. Still, the best way to locate award seats on Delta and its partners is by calling the airline directly (or using tools like the Air France website as we have outlined before on The Ticket). If IdeaWorks had called airlines to search for award seats, Delta would have performed slightly better.
What really needs to happen though is for Delta to fix its online award booking engine once and for all. United’s award search tool is impeccable in searching award seats for itself and almost all Star Alliance partners. So it must not be that hard to do!
Here’s the link to the full study from IdeaWorks. Below are key charts showing the rankings.
The Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey is based upon 6,680 booking queries made by the IdeaWorks Company at the websites of 23 frequent flier programs during March 2012. Travel dates spanned June through October 2012, with top routes for each carrier checked to assess reward seat
availability. The following table summarizes the results of the 2012 survey:
The study shows that things don’t get any better if you choose to wait until the last minute to try and claim an award with Delta. At United, nearly 90% of seats showed last minute availability. At Delta, it’s a measly 25%.
Most TICKET readers are some of Delta’s most loyal customers. Are your experiences similar to these findings? How do studies like this make you feel about your loyalty to Delta and it’s SkyMiles program? Do you think a switch to a revenue-based program (as rumored earlier this year) will make a difference? Please share your comments below.