Why Delta SkyMiles can be incredibly valuable for a domestic trip (in theory)

It’s not often that I learn something new about award tickets, though my friend Chris pointed this out to me not too long ago and it came as a surprise. I was about to make a bet with him since I was convinced he was wrong, though I learned from my last mistake.

Anyway, what I hadn’t realized was that Delta actually allows stopovers on domestic award tickets, which no other major US frequent flyer program allows to the best of my knowledge. Admittedly even after learning this information I really don’t care, since finding domestic Delta award space at the “low” level is virtually impossible. Hell, it took me nearly half an hour to put together a totally arbitrary example that would work, simply because there isn’t any domestic “low” level award space.

That being said, as long as the city you’re stopping over in is a legal connecting point between your origin and destination and has the desired level of award space, it should be fairly easy to incorporate the stopover.

For example, I looked at a flight from Tampa to Los Angeles with a stopover in Detroit on the way. After finding low level award space on each individual segment, I typed them all into the award search tool using the “Multi-city” function.

Sure enough when I selected all the flights, the entire trip cost only 25,000 miles.

Again, for 90% of us this is more valuable in theory than in practice. Still, it’s something to keep in mind…

Filed Under: Awards, Delta
  1. Don’t worry, this will be announced along with the next “enhancement” to Skymiles redemption policies to make people think they are getting something new

  2. Thanks for this. I never have a problem finding “low” inventory, but all Delta travel is between WAS, ATL and MSY. Wish I would have know this sooner, because I usually book separate tickets.

  3. I loved the example since I flew that exact routing on an award ticket 10 months ago. That must be the only fact about award redemption that I knew before Lucky did!

  4. They will also allow both a stopover and an openjaw, if that helps. In December I did. DTW-TXL openjaw then ROM-AMS-LHR stopover then LHR-DTW.

    Lucky, would you clearify what you said about nobody else allowing stopoevers, I thought AA and US did.

  5. This certainly helped me when I wanted to visit Detroit on my way to Chicago last year. I was very appreciative of Delta’s allowing a stopover.

  6. If you want a stopover with *A, just go to the Carribean or Mexico with your miles. Today I booked a first class SEA-CUN-PHL-SEA award on *A (stopover in PHL) for 60K. The same trip with skypesos would have cost 2-3x as much.

  7. Yes, at the Chicago Do one of the speakers was making much of using this feature (and open jaw) to take three trips using only two domestic awards. But it requires a frightful amount of advance planning and schedule predictability that I am in no way capable of.

  8. AS allows stopovers on awards, but only on AS metal though… I once booked LAX-ADK [quick turn]-ANC-LAX, but I could not do the trip šŸ™

  9. Coins, I always had a stash of AA miles, since they allowed stopovers on award tix. Those days ended about 3 years ago.

  10. Just in the past few weeks I’ve used a stopover on one trip and both a stopover and open jaw on another. Both were domestic flights. Having Platinum status for these is incredibly helpful since it allows free changes. The funny thing about you not knowing this is that I thought I learned this from you! It must have been someone else…

  11. I’ve known about this for ages but haven’t had a chance to use this just yet. This can be quite valuable on AS awards to AK, especially since you can do an open-jaw and a stopover. The OJ positions you for a cruise.

  12. We use it a lot… Each christmas to visit my and my wifes family, and this past year for my sister and niece to visit az while seeing our parents in msp. Definitely takes a little extra planning and pm/dm helps a lot.

    It also made another domestic trip as i’d have been caught by the 4hr rule for transfer limit otherwise.I

  13. I just realized this couple days back while putting together an award ticket. I thought its just that the silly delta engine didn’t realize my evil plan to fool it. I guess its a hidden feature šŸ™‚

  14. I used this same tactic to get a layover in Paris for a day. I booked that on the phone and just asked the agent if she could extend the layover for me. I hadnt thought about using it on the website – great advice. Hopefully Delta will not change as the fact becomes more publicized.

  15. If it doesn’t work in practice then the theory is wrong.

    Question: why have you been relatively quiet regarding the UA/CO merger? Not interested in UACO anymore? Are you impressed with the new airline?

  16. The real advantage as pointed out by DeltaGoldFlyer is combining open jaw and stop over. For example, I booked first class at midlevel to Kona as:

    FSD-MSP-LAX-MSP stopover then on to EWR (I live in FSD and close to MSP)

    Then, when I return from EWR, I am planning EWR-MSP stopover then onto Phoenix-MSP-FSD

    Basically, 3 trips for the cost of two. I figure if I can even get the second trip at midlevel, I have gamed Delta enough to more value out of my pesos.

  17. It’s pretty funny how Delta’s FF program has deteriorated to the point that a stopover in Detroit is one of the few benefits it offers.

  18. Hey Lucky, how can you search for Delta low level award flights? Just keep searching on the delta website until you find something low? That seems awfully time consuming – is there a better way?

  19. @sil – I don’t believe YVR is a valid connection for LAX-ANC, so you wouldn’t be able to stopover there for 25k miles. DL would price it as a circle trip, 37.5k miles at low redemption (3 x 12.5k).

  20. @ Jo41 — It is pretty time consuming. You either have to use delta.com and search low level award space using what would be the “low” cost on the award chart, or you could use the Air France website as well.

  21. @ David — Keep in mind that Delta as well as most airlines allow stopovers on international tickets. It’s just domestic tickets where Delta is “special” in that regard, since most carriers don’t allow it. That being said, for international itineraries anything up to 24 hours doesn’t count as a stopover, so you can stop in places for up to 24 hours as often as you’d like, in addition to one stopover and one destination.

  22. Hey Lucky- Does this trick still work? I am trying to book IAH->LAS->MCO->IAH and the lowest I can get is 37,500 miles/person. I can find low-cost options for each individual leg (12,500 miles each) but when I put these dates in the multi-city search I keep getting a total cost of 37,500 miles… What gives?? Any suggestions??

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