Delta speeds up its boarding process, adds new routes to Japan

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INSIDER SECRET: You can take the sting out of Delta’s Basic Economy restrictions with a Delta credit card, like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. It comes with priority boarding (Main Cabin 1), plus the first checked bag is free for the cardholder and up to eight traveling companions.

If you love the idea of using any and all forms of technology to simplify your life, then you’ll be happy to know that Delta is enhancing its boarding process by expanding its use of facial recognition technology at four new airports. Delta has been testing facial recognition boarding for over three years, and last year started using it in Atlanta. Since then, the process has been introduced at these Delta hub cities:

  • Detroit
  • Los Angeles
  • Minneapolis
  • Salt Lake City

The technology can shave two seconds off the boarding time per passenger. That doesn’t sound like much, but for a fully loaded wide-body plane it ends up cutting nine minutes off the boarding time. When you multiply that small time savings by the hundreds of million of passengers Delta transports each year, you can see why Delta is making the move to this new boarding process.

Delta adds flights to Japan

Ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Delta is adding routes to Japan and now will fly there from five new U.S. cities beginning on Mar. 28, 2020:

  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Honolulu
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle

Delta already flies to Tokyo from Los Angeles and Minneapolis. All of these flights serve Haneda airport, which is much closer to Tokyo than Narita. The cheapest award flights on these routes are 60,000-64,000 miles round-trip in economy, but you can find better prices with the weekly Delta SkyMiles deals. I’ve seen round-trip flights to Japan for as little as 40,000 miles in economy and 70,000 miles in premium economy.

To be notified when these deals (and others, like 20,000 mile round-trip flights to Europe) are available, sign-up for our email newsletter.

If you need more Delta miles you could open an Amex Delta credit card, but right now the welcome offers aren’t great. Because Amex only lets you earn an intro bonus on a specific card once per lifetime, you’ll want to apply when the bonuses are bigger. Again, join our newsletter and we’ll let you know when the increased Delta credit card offers are back.

You can also book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles; one-way, nonstop flights from the U.S. to Japan are only 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in business class. Delta normally charges (at least) 100,000 SkyMiles for the exact same flight. Right now, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® has an increased bonus offer of up to 60,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. You can also earn an additional 20,000 miles in the first year by meeting certain spending requirements and adding authorized users. This article has more information on the Virgin Atlantic credit card offer if you’re interested.

The one downside of using Virgin Atlantic miles is that you’ll pay per segment, so if you need a connecting flight the price will increase.

You can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta and Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio.

Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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