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.

You can also earn American Express points with these cards:

CardWelcome bonus & minimum spending requirements
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 85,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within your first three months of Card Membership.
Terms Apply.
American Express®️ Green CardEarn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressNo welcome bonus
The Platinum Card® from American Express
75,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first six months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
American Express® Gold Card60,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first six months of account opening. Terms Apply.
American Express® Business Gold CardEarn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 4/7/21. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express10,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The information for the Amex Green Card, Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and Amex EveryDay Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Jason Stauffer is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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