Frequent flyer hack: Finding award seats on SkyTeam partners
By George Hobica
SkyTeam is a smaller airline group compared to the larger Star Alliance, which features more prestigious airlines like Singapore Airlines and Swiss International. But, SkyTeam has a lot going for it especially thanks to powerhouse airlines like Delta and Air France-KLM.
Redeeming miles can be a challenge on SkyTeam as it is hard to find award availability online since most airlines don't have the capability to show all partner availability. What many Delta frequent flyers may not know is that Air France-KLM’s web site shows most of the alliance's partner flights online. Delta.com shows only a few, and many of the other airlines like Kenya Airways or China Southern show none.
When you call your airline's reservation line, agents are not as willing to go through multiple alliance partners. Air France-KLM's site will do that.
So what's the best way for a SkyTeam flyer to search for award availability? Sign up for an Air France-KLM Flying Blue (frequent flyer program) account. It's free, and once online, you can put in your flight pairings and find more SkyTeam partner availability options.
Air France-KLM's site searches award inventory for your city pair on Delta, Air France-KLM, Aeroflot, Alitalia, Air Europa, China Southern, CSA Czech, Kenya Airways, and other partners.
What you are looking for is "Classic" award availability. This ties in to most SkyTeam airlines' award buckets. For Delta, Classic awards are the lowest mileage award so when you see a Classic award available on the Air France-KLM site, it should be bookable as an award when you call Delta's reservations number. So it's best to do your homework before calling your respective airline (the one where you have your miles) to make the award reservation.
Let's say you are looking for an award seat from Miami to Moscow. Delta's web site will only show you flights on Delta, Air France, and KLM. But, the Flying Blue web site will show you flights with award seats on Delta, Air France, KLM, Aeroflot, CSA Czech, and Alitalia. The net you cast for finding award availability gets wider when you use Air France-KLM's site.
Write down the flight number, departure times, airport codes, and airline information for the Classic awards that you find, and then call your airline's reservations number to book the reservation. This is the fastest and easiest way to find the award seats you are looking for without spending time on the phone with an agent who has no clue how to search partners.
Suddenly, your Delta SkyMiles or other SkyTeam partner frequent flyer miles have gotten a lot more valuable.
You might also like: how to redeem oneworld awards using partner web sites.