We all know that ex-Europe in comparison to ex-USA taxes are much higher when booking Delta SkyMiles award flights. Sometimes, especially in premium cabins the difference can be quite extreme when originating in Europe. Recently I was working on some China Airlines award reservations. It is also nice to note that you can now easily book many SkyTeam award partners on delta.com, including China Airlines. What I did not realize is that the taxes can be significantly lower if you book your award ticket over the telephone instead of booking online. While I prefer booking online, if I need to qualify that all of the partners (especially Air France/KLM) have been searched I will often call the Delta Diamond Medallion Line.
In the recent example I booked the other day, AMS-BKK in economy class nonstop on China Airlines,
Delta shows the SkyMiles award space online as 50,000 SkyMiles (RDMs) + a total of €184.05 in taxes.
These taxes (and fees) are verified when you go to “check-out” and complete your reservation.
But, if you call Delta (in this case, I called the Diamond Medallion Delta telephone line and spoke with an agent in SLC), your flight award is still 50,000 SkyMiles (RDMs) but your taxes (and fees) are only €81.69. I was also able to verify these taxes as the amount posted to my credit card (online) statement.
This example was the same award priced on the same flights and date of travel. I am not sure what to make of this, but I must say I am not surprised. One more reason to further check and double check your award reservations. I would go so far to say that you should probably try to verify all SkyMiles awards online and over the telephone if possible. As my friend Mike discussed on his blog Frequent Flyer Miles 101 the other day; you always need to keep your eyes open to routings and award possibility vis-a-vis the number of miles required for an award ticket and the different alliance options. Since Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallions get “free” award changes and cancellations (re-deposits) you can be credited the award miles if a lower (or “saver”) award becomes available. Alternatively, such as in this case, China Airlines will often not release business class award space until closer to departure time. Since the same flight booked as a business class award would be 80,000 SkyMiles (RDMs) instead of the 50,000 Skymiles (RDMs) in economy class I will keep checking business class availability up until 72 hours prior to departure. Unfortunately, Delta no longer allows award cancellations (or re-deposits) paid (or free for Platinum/Diamond) less than 72 hours prior to departure.
Have you booked a Delta SkyMiles partner award ticket online at delta.com recently?
AMS : code for Amsterdam
BKK : code for Bangkok
SLC : code for Salt Lake City
ex-Europe : Departing (or starting your trip) from Europe
ex-USA : Departing (or starting your trip) from the USA
MQM : Medallion Qualifying Miles (the miles that establish your elite status or tier)
RDM : Redeemable Miles (the miles used for awards or free tickets, for example : “I need 50,000 RDMs for a free economy class ticket from Amsterdam to Bangkok.”)
Diamond Medallion Line : Elite Priority phone line for Delta Diamond Medallion Customers