4 Simple Tips for Finding Delta’s Hidden Award Sales

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One of the more pleasant changes to the miles & points world this past year has been Delta’s introduction of regular SkyMiles deals.  If you want to stay in the loop with all these deals, subscribe to our newsletter.  Sometimes there are limited-time sales that will expire before our newsletter goes out, so to get notified right away be sure follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Delta consistently has round-trip domestic flights on sale for 10,000 miles, and flights to Europe for 32,000 miles (or less).  We’ve even seen 30,000 mile coach round-trip awards to Asia, and Delta One Business Class deals to Europe for 98,000 miles round-trip.  Normally these awards can easily cost twice as much.

And those are just the deals Delta advertises.  There are often unadvertised deals to get discovered from time to time.

After covering these deals for a while, I’ve noticed that every single time there are routes on sale to/from cities that are not advertised.  My home airport is Chicago and even though it’s almost never on the sale list, I still regularly find discounted flights from there.

I’ve found unadvertised Delta sales from my home airport to beautiful cities like Zurich

How to Find the Best Delta SkyMiles Deals

These are the tactics I use to spend just a few extra minutes each week looking for unadvertised discounted Delta awards.  You don’t need to find the best deal or every deal.  You just need to find a deal that gets you where you want to go when you want to go.

That being said, you’ll have a much better chance of booking a great deal if you’re flexible with your travel plans.

Also, the best award prices can come with the “price” of inconvenient flight times or routings.  For me this isn’t a big deal, but I’m also not traveling with a lap infant, so it’s something to be aware of when you’re perusing the deals.  

Remember these sales only apply to Delta flights, not their SkyTeam partners.  So before you invest time searching for flights, you’ll want to be sure Delta flies that route.  One easy way to do this is to search for your destination airport’s Wikipedia page, which will show all the airlines that serve that airport and what cities they fly from.

1.   Check Cities That Are on the Official Deals List

This is the first thing I do when the new Delta SkyMiles deal is announced.

I’m almost always looking to fly out of Chicago.  So I go to the Delta site and starting searching for flights from Chicago to any other city that is listed as the origin or destination for a discounted route.  Sometimes you can find deals for a route where neither of the cities is on the official list if you stick to the same region (domestic, Europe, etc.) that particular sale covers.

For a recent Delta domestic award sale, here are round-trip coach award deals I found from Chicago even though it wasn’t an origin or destination city on the official list:

  • San Francisco for 16,000 miles
  • Los Angeles for 15,000 miles
  • Las Vegas for 14,000 miles
  • New York for 10,000 miles
  • Boston for 13,000 miles
  • Philadelphia for 10,000 miles
  • New Orleans for 10,000 miles

You can use this tactic to find sales from your home airport to Europe, Hawaii, and other great destinations that you’d otherwise completely miss.  It’s worth taking 5 minutes out of your week to see what you can find.

2.   Use the “5 Weeks” Calendar Search Function

When you’re searching for flights, be sure to click “5 Weeks” under the “Calendar View” so you can see the most deals at once.  And once your search results populate, you can easily browse through Delta’s flight calendar month by month.

After you’ve selected the days you want to travel, you can see the exact flight times and connections.

3.   Check Dates (Well) Outside the Official Travel Dates of the Deal

Every sale will list specific travel dates or restrictions, but I’ve found them to be general guidelines at best.

For the sale that was running when I wrote this article, the official travel dates were April 1 to June 8, 2019.  But I found awards on sale through the end of Delta’s flight calendar all the way into January 2020!

This won’t hold true for every discounted flight, but it’s common enough that the official travel dates almost always end up being suggestions in practice.

4.   Adjust the Length of Your Trip

If you’re having trouble finding deals, you might need to adjust the length of your trip.  This is where having a flexible schedule really helps.

Adjusting the length of your trip can open up the deals

Delta was advertising round-trip awards from Atlanta to San Francisco for 24,000 miles.  When I set the “Trip Length” to 1 day here are the results I got:

For a 1 day trip there were no routes available at the advertised lowest price.  Of course it’s very rare to need to fly out and back in the same day.  When I bumped up the trip length to 2 days here is what came up:

The results are drastically different with a couple days with discounted flights.  Now take a look at the calendar for a 7-day trip:

As you can see, it will pay dividends to fiddle around with the length of your trip.  Delta award prices fluctuate and by doing this, you’re giving yourself more of an opportunity to fly when they’re cheapest.

Also Delta does have certain restrictions on some of their award sales.  Often, but not always, the terms will require a Friday or Saturday night stay.  Although, just like with the official travel dates, this seems to be more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule.

Earn the Miles You Need Before You Need Them

There you have it!  Now that you know a few simple tricks to uncovering the best Delta deals, you’ll need to make sure your collection of Delta miles is locked and loaded.

There are plenty of Delta credit cards you could open to earn Delta miles.  But they are all issued by American Express, and they only allow you to earn the intro bonus on a credit card once per lifetime.  So it’s best to apply for AMEX cards when the bonuses are higher than normal.  But if you need Delta miles now, these are the credit cards:

There are other options for amassing a healthy collection of Delta miles.  AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta at a 1:1 ratio and you can earn them with cards like:

Personal cardsBusiness cards
American Express® Gold CardThe Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmerican Express® Business Gold Card
American Express®️ Green CardThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
The information for the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card and the Amex Green 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.

When you open a card, the bonus miles or points usually will show up in your account after the statement period where you met the minimum spending requirement closes.  So it’ll be at least a couple of months from when you open a card until you can use the bonus.

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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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