Top 8 Reasons to Fly Delta Air Lines Top 8 Reasons to Fly Delta Air Lines

Top 8 Reasons to Fly Delta Air Lines

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We’ve spent plenty of time on our soapbox grumbling about Delta SkyMiles, most of it warranted. Take, for instance, Delta barring AwardWallet members from accessing their account information remotely (workaround), the lack of transparency for SkyMiles members, and the regular unannounced price hikes. Actions that are hard to swallow without calling Delta out.

But SkyMiles still has a lot to offer as a frequent flyer program, particularly for members based around Delta hubs.


For starters, SkyMiles offers a full stack of Amex co-brand credit cards ranging from a base no annual fee card to premium rewards cards offering lounge access and other benefits. And Delta's in-flight product and service are currently well ahead of its legacy carrier companions. Yes, Delta has ripped a lot of the value out of the SkyMiles program. But, with the other legacy carriers fast catching up, we thought it past time for a refresh on why Delta can still offer top value for frequent flyers.

A Full Stack of Delta Credit Cards and Top Transfer Partners

Delta takes first place among the legacy carriers for the number of co-brand cards that earn SkyMiles. From the base Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, one of the only no annual fee co-brand airline cards (Rates & Fees), through to Delta’s top-tier Reserve personal and business cards.

Delta co-branded credit card offers:

It’s worth pointing out that, while you can only get the welcome bonus once for each of these cards, the offers on the Delta cards should be on the radar or anyone over 5/24 as the perfect way to round out their SkyMiles accounts. Also, remember that American Express business cards do not count against your 5/24 total.

SkyMiles members can also transfer points from Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio, with a bonus 5,000 SkyMiles thrown in when you transfer Marriott points in blocks of 60K or more.

Best Business Class Availability Across the Atlantic

Of the three legacy programs, Delta has the best award availability flying business class to Europe. The price may have gone up to 70K one-way in business, but the fees and taxes are minimal at just $5.60 across the Atlantic going east, and searching six months out there is saver-level business availability on 50% of the days over a five-week search.


Europe is by far the most common destination for U.S. travelers, and availability on some carriers can be spotty at best. A relatively stress-free round-trip award to Europe for 140K SkyMiles + reasonable taxes/fees is not a bad value. Expect to pay more than $5.60 in taxes/fees for your return (even if you book a round-trip) — the exact amount will vary based on your exact destination.

Heading the other direction, Delta also has stellar award availability heading over the Pacific on one of SkyMiles’ best redemption options, business class from the Continental U.S. to Asia for 80K each way. You may even get the chance to try the new A350 Delta Suites.

Delta SkyMiles Don't Expire

Each frequent flyer program has different rules around mileage expiry. Miles in both American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus will expire after 18 months of no account activity, Lufthansa miles expire 36 months after they're issued. Delta SkyMiles, on the other hand, don’t expire as long as your account is in good standing. While we don’t advocate storing miles in your account for extended periods of time, for the ‘sometimes’ flyer that isn’t on top of their rewards programs, they won’t lose miles due to lack of activity (or attention)

Pro Tip: Never let miles expire again. Sign up for an AwardWallet account, and we’ll track the expiry date of your miles, alerting you before miles are due to expire.

AwardWallet Tip - Account Expiration Dates

Award Flights as Low as 5,000 Miles

Short-haul domestic awards are available for as low as 5,000 miles each way on Delta. You can bag a flight from Atlanta to Washington for a paltry 5K, and the return on your miles isn’t terrible at roughly 1.7¢ per mile.


Best In-Flight Product and Service of the Big Three U.S. Carriers

Delta is not always the friendliest to its frequent flyer community, but they work hard to keep a competitive edge against the domestic competition. The recent addition of wider overhead bins, improved seats, a redesigned onboard menu, and the new international business class Delta One Suites all point to Delta focusing more attention on the product they fly than the rewards we get for flying it.

Delta One (Business Class) Suite
Delta One (Business Class) Suite

Solid Companion Ticket on Platinum and Reserve Delta Cards

SkyMiles members that hold the Platinum Delta Amex and Business Platinum Delta Amex receive a domestic main cabin companion certificate allowing a traveling partner to fly with you free of charge for just the cost of taxes and fees (no more than $75). If you hold the Delta Reserve or Business Delta Reserve, you’ll receive a certificate valid for domestic Main Cabin, Comfort+, or First class. Companions also now qualify for eligible for complimentary upgrades when traveling with a SkyMiles Medallion Elite member. Travel on these certificates is valid within the lower 48 states.

Well Established SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge

Participate in the Delta SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge after July 21, 2017, and you’ll keep your Medallion status through until January 31, 2019! That’s well over a year of upgrades, free bags, and lounge access. You'll receive Platinum, Gold, or Silver Medallion status for three months, based on the current airline elite status. To keep the status, you’ll need to earn a specific number of MQM’s or fly the elected MQS’s within three months of enrolling.

  • Silver – 6,250 MQMs or 8 MQSs
  • Gold – 12,500 MQMs or 15 MQSs
  • Platinum – 18,750 MQMs or 25 MQSs

Delta SkyMiles Members Can Earn Miles on Airbnb Stays

This may not be a big deal for most folks, but having lived in Airbnb vacation rentals for the better part of a year while traveling through Asia with my wife and son, this is a quick way to rack up a huge number of Delta miles. The rate fluctuates between the standard 1 point per dollar through to promo's earning up to 3x points per dollar spent.

The Loyik Villa Ubud
The Loyik Villa in Ubud, Bali can earn a lot of Delta miles via the Airbnb partnership

Final Thoughts

Delta may be happy to give SkyMiles members the run around at times, but there is still value in the program, and they offer a top in-flight experience for both domestic and international travel. Availability across the Atlantic to Europe and between the Continental U.S. and Asia is good, and your collecting miles that don’t expire (though they might lose some value) as long as your account is in good standing.

The current offers are a great way of padding your SkyMiles balance with a substantial number of miles for an affordable minimum spend, while also picking up some excellent perks like the companion pass mentioned above.

Don't forget to check out Sweet Spots with Delta SkyMiles and our Award Travel 101 video on how to maximize Delta SkyMiles.

If you have any questions or you’d like to lament the days when you could consult Delta’s award chart before booking an award, get in touch via the comments.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

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  • Every now and then delta will surprise me with some real good redemption from NYC direct competive routes against Jetblue

  • Just looking up AirBNB bonus offers, and this one seems okay. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • When I’ve had delays, cancellations or booking errors, Delta reps have always been very helpful.

  • I really like the fact that the miles do not expire !

  • How do you take advantage of the Airbnb / Delta bonus miles? I recently booked flights for my next vacation on Delta, and getting additional miles by booking my accommodation through Airbnb sounds like a great way to rack up more miles for our next family trip. Thanks!

  • Skymiles can go a long way toward business class seats on international flights. I recommend checking out inventory on Korean Air for flights to Asia.

  • Alice Chen says:

    Those little private suites for business class look awesome!

  • Thank you. That’s good to know if I have a short notice desire for a flight. And, since Delta miles do’t expire., I guess I can save them for a rainy day, and hopefully they don’t get devalued along the way.

  • The thing that helps me out with Delta is that there is no last minute booking charges. I almost got stuck over night due to weather my choices were a last minute fee by one airline of ‘$150 for 2 of us or Delta with no last minute fee. I obviously took the Delta flight.

  • I really like the non-expiration that Delta offers, however, much harder to earn points if you don’t have a Delta Credit card.

  • One cannot but be impresses by DL’s route map. Just about any destination you have in mind, one way or another, DL can get you there.

  • I hadn’t heard about earning miles for Airbnb. Thanks for sharing.

  • Register again with a different email and add your DL FFN?

  • My experience – AA versus Delta. Recently I flew business class BKK-NY on JAL (AA award) for 70K miles. Delta is 80K. Also last year flew NY to SNA (Santa Ana CA) on Delta business class for 55K. Return SNA-NY business class on AA was 45K. True Delta is far from useless but for me better value with AA awards.

  • Wish I had known the AirBnb Delta info sooner. Recently registered with them and booked my first stay. I would have loved the bonus Delta miles.

  • Howie, I agree. Delta service overall is a lot better than United. Do you know if card bonuses are allowed again (I thought AmEx allowed only one bonus offer in lifetime). Thanks.

  • thanks for the info!

  • deerseason says:

    Without an award chart it’s extremely difficult to plan major trips around Delta, unless I guess you had a giant surplus of points from a signup bonus. All airlines are like this, but Delta is even less transparent. I didn’t have a lot of Skymiles to begin with but I was happy enough to get to use it on a recent short-haul.

  • The_Bouncer says:

    I’m seriously considering switching from Flying Blue and making Delta my main Skyteam program. As quite an infrequent Skyteam flyer, I like the non-expiry of miles.

  • Love that miles don’t expire

  • The fact that the miles doesn’t expire is a nice perk.

    Especially for people not doing lots of activities.

  • I took delta for the first time in years last month – the economy class has gotten a lot better – comfy seats, clean planes = not bad!

  • I just have to disagree. Anything that has to do with the skymiles program is waste of time.

  • Yes, good policy to rank your FF programs for your personal situation and then check back in a couple years’ time.

  • Sebastian says:

    Good Point with the Question whether one can trust any Program lately – if you’d ask me, I’d say “no” – there so many changes and obstacles…Its not of much use nowadays, sadly.

  • I didn’t know about the ahort haul 5,000 miles awards, they could actually be really useful!

  • If only DL stops killing the award flight redemption rates…then I’d be going out of my way to fly DL.

  • Thank you! Very useful information!

  • Ehhhh….not a fan of Delta.

    I gladly fly the Southwest cattle car and enjoy their friendly FAs.
    Delta reps at PBI always seem to have a chip on their shoulders…like they are doing you a favor by assisting you.
    Comes from the corporate culture, I’m sure. Probably like that from the top down….

  • Need Delta to increase their presence at SJC, SNA, SFO, LAS!

  • I can’t get past the no award chart thing.

  • Doesn’t look too bad, actually.

  • I do not fly Delta very often, however I do carry the Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card to avoid baggage fees.

  • If I had the Gold Amex card before, would I be eligible for the 10,000 miles on the Blue card?

  • How about: if I don’t fly Delta out of the tiny upper midwest airport that they have a monopoly on, I have to drive 5 hours to an airport that their is competition.

  • Delta has certainly made some improvements and like everything, there are sweet spots. I never discount anyone when considering travel options, especially as someone fairly close to a Delta hub.

  • Thanks for the reminders. I agree!

  • Paula Hamblen says:

    I often don’t check Delta for awards but thank goodness I did recently. Needed a flight from CPH to ORD and they had the perfect flight time for a reasonable redemption.

  • Lee Ann Bixler says:

    How about doing a few articles on or about other airlines?

    • We’ve got them, but we’ll add some more to our post queue. Delta is particularly relevant now given the up to 100% signup bonus increases offered on their credit cards

  • I’ve been receiving targeted offers for the DL Gold Personal & Biz cards that do not contain the ‘one bonus per lifetime’ language. Since I’ve held both cards in the past, and because I have goals different than collecting Skypes…um, er, Skymiles, I have not pulled the trigger on an app. However, I’m interested to know if anyone has been in a similar situation, applied, and received the bonus a second time?

  • charles j says:

    Thanks for all the info. For me, the best benefit of Delta and JetBlue) is that their miles don;t expire, even if you risk them being devalued.

  • AirlineBoy13 says:

    When you live in Atlanta, DL is almost the only choice available. Finding the crease in their systems and policies are a challenge when you want to fly DL First or Delta One. So far the best value is using AMEX MR points via an AMEX Biz card and getting the 33%-50% rebate.

  • Delta seem to have really upped their game from a few years ago

  • Hi Sam,
    I am an EU resident and a LH Star Alliance Member,
    Your Credit card recommendations are mainly for US Citizen.
    Do you have a recommendation for a Credit card with Which I can collect and maximise
    my Miles & More (as a European Citizen)?
    Thank you in advance

  • Keep in mind when flying Delta, they have gogoinflight and if you have T-mobile that’s free internet while in-flight!

  • Operations are good but certainly not Skypesos.

  • Mark De Roma says:

    Operations are good, but award availability is the worst among US carriers.

  • I live in PHX and DL does not have a huge presence here, sadly.

  • The no expiration policy is great, but from my home airport, I find delta airfares are much higher than the other airlines.

  • I wanted to hate skypesos for so long but ended up with a stash with them as the Delta gold was my first amex card a year ago (wanted to app for something easy to get approved for). I’ve been using them for N American flights so far and I have to admit I’ve been pleasantly surprised. No close in ticketing fee, and as long as I booked at least 3-4 months ahead the tickets were always LESS than 12.5k which is the standard saver price in general in the US. Heck even a flight from Canada was only 9k. Plus you get snacktime. I’m definitely considering to app one of the offers out currently since it is a great option for flying in the US.

  • $3800 round trip direct flights from LAX to New York are not a bargain even if the second seat is free

  • I’m not a Delta fan. Sorry, even the award program doesn’t strike me as a reason to fly them.

  • Have a friend who is delta gold and half the time doesn’t clear the “waitlist” for delta’s economy plus on long international flights. This never happens to me on united, as a gold member I get to pick my eco+ seat when I book.

  • As much as I distrust Delta lately, I must admit that Skymiles have nevertheless come in handy for me on more than one occasion.

    • Agreed. It’s fun to bash Delta, and I’m very glad we burned nearly all of our banked DL miles before the last unannounced devaluation. However, DL does have good availability from our little airport, so when their fares are the lowest, we do fly them. So it’s nice to be reminded that there remains some ‘good’ in the Skymiles program, and that earning DL miles isn’t a complete waste of time.

  • I do love the features of their no annual fee card. It does have some good earning potential without the annual fee.

  • I like the Delta SkyMiles don’t expire as long as your account is in good standing. I do not agree that other loyalty programs miles expire in certain. It is should be the same as money in your bank account. If no activities in your account, the money is still yours. There is no expiration of money. So there should not be expiry dates on the miles. The expiry dates clause is a rip off.

  • Delta has good availability to Canada so their miles are well worth earning. They also partner with Westjet who are currently working on a business class product for their new long haul aircraft. In the future this might be another good option for the use of Delta points.

  • Bertrand Say says:

    Are they no longer known as skypesos?

  • I don’t think DL has the best in-flight product among the 3 big US carriers.
    IMHO AA’s new business class seats are better than DL’s new seats.
    It doesn’t matter whether they come with doors…the seat itself it still not as good as AA’s.

  • I still like Delta, glad to see more reasons to stay with them!

  • Also, with airlines like United devaluing their snacks (no more of those waffle cookies in economy, only the cruddy “sSavory Snacks”, Delta still provides Biscoffs.

  • Delta sure has better service and in-flight experience than most others.

  • hmmm. you make me think a positive thought about Delta. Nice post!

  • Never flown Delta but availability seems a lot better than other carriers, then again with their devaluations who knows.

  • Thank you for the information.

  • This is a much better analysis of the benefits of Delta, instead of the usual “Skypesos” remarks. Makes me seriously consider applying for one of those Amex cards rather than staying with AA.

  • Two years ago I ranked my favorite airline and frequent flyer program 1) AA, 2) UA, and 3) DL. Now my perception has changed 1) DL, 2 UA, 3) AA

  • Thanks for sharing! Considering I live in a city which is a major Delta hub this is great.

  • not a big fan but sometimes a good value for short flights if you can find the 5k award tickets.

  • I don’t fly enough to have status with any airline, so I try to keep enough miles on hand from each of the main carriers. more options is always better, and sometimes, just sometimes, delta can be the best option.

  • My reason: Delta has a monopoly on the tiny airport I fly out of.

  • I agree with Howie’s above comment. You can’t really trust any award program? Is Delta the best? Probably not. But there can be value there if you live in a Delta-heavy area for sure.

  • Thanks for sharing!

  • SkyMiles is great for long haul awards ex the U.S. (as you mentioned, only 5$ for a oneway to Europe!)
    And also amazing availability space for domestic flights!
    I flew LAS-SEA earlier this year and revenue price was 170$ per person for a oneway, so quite steep.
    Instead I used my DL miles (didn’t cost much) and there was award space on every single day of the month including several flights (and not just those early AM bird flights nobody wants to take)

  • Good to be reminded every once in a while

  • In the other hand can anyone trust the Skymiles program anymore?