Aspirational Award Trip: Russia With Love

I successfully used 100,000 Delta Skymiles (AKA Sky Pesos) each to book my parents on an award ticket to Russia. This is exciting as this coincides with the time Lady Tocqueville and I will be in St. Petersburg on our Trip of a Million Lifetimes.  Given that my mother is from Russia, this will be an exciting trip.

Availability was tough given this is Delta we are talking about, but doable thanks to generous availability by SkyTeam partner Aeroflot.  Their routing:

  • JFK – SVO (Moscow) – LED (St. Petersburg) [Stopover]
  • LED – SVO – SIP [Simferopol, Ukraine] [Stopover]
  • SIP – SVO [23 hour layover]
  • SVO – YYZ (Toronto) – ATL
Russia With Love

Russia With Love

Every leg is business class except for YYZ – ATL, which was only available in Economy.  Strangealy, the award wouldn’t book correctly with ATL – JFK as the first leg, so we had to lop that off and they are buying ATL – JFK for $119 each as the first leg.  Taxes and fees came to a steep $475 per ticket due to fuel surcharges on Aeroflot.  But to use 100,000 DeltaSkymiles for a “Low” Business award 2 months out for two people is a feat in itself.

One other interesting side-note.  SIP – SVO – YYZ gives an exactly 24 hour layover in SVO.  The flight from SIP arrives at 10:25AM, and the YYZ flight departs at 10:25AM the next day.  I thought for sure delta would reject this as a stopover instead of a layover since it exceeds 23 hours 59 minutes by one hour.  Nevertheless, they, to my surprise, ticketed it without qualms.

The Wandering Aramean has some great travel tools, and one of which is a Aeroflot availability search which was indispensible to me.  Be careful when searching, as it appears Aeroflot restricts availablity for un-matched segments.  For example, I did not see JFK – SVO availability, but as soon as I put in JFK – SVO – LED or JFK – SVO – SIP availability was there.



Aeroflot Enforcing Married Segments on Award Tickets

Everyone knows Delta Skymiles are difficult to redeem.  Aeroflot remains one of the partner airlines that has decent availability on flights to Europe.  I am working on an itinerary now for my parents, and searching Aeroflot availability had confounded me.

The Wandering Aramean has developed a great search that finds Aeroflot availability.  I was using this to look for flights to and from the USA to Russia.  Their first stopover is to be St. Petersburg.  So I used the Wandering Aramean’s search, and saw this availability:

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

Decent availability JFK to St. Petersburg

“J” stands for business class, and “Y” for coach.  So for the 2PM departure on September 10, there are 3 business class seats from JFK – SVO and 2 from SVO – LED.  That is awesome, right?  You can just call Delta, spoon feed them these segments, and *poof*, you have them in there.

So after searching like this, I called Delta and tried to book this.  I gave the agent JFK – SVO, and he said there was no availability.  I said surely you must jest, sir, as I have it direct from the source, it’s available.  So I went back to the Wandering Aramean’s site, which is an accurate reflection of Aeroflot’s offerings, and sure enough, to my horror, this is what I saw:

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

Where the hell did all the availability go!?

So for the same day, typing in JFK – SVO gives one economy class seat on the 7PM flight, and all the other flights have zero availability!  I hung up, discouraged, and started freaking out about computer glitches, other people booking the space, etc.  The crazy part was I looked at multiple dates, and its as if the availability has just disappeared.

After a couple hours of thinking on it, I tried the search again, typing in JFK to LED.  Sure enough the availability was there.  So I realized that Aeroflot is giving away the availability only on flights with connections.  So JFK – SVO, no availability to book.  But JFK – SVO – LED, decent availability.

I called Delta, and was able to get these flights on hold as part of a 100,000 mile award ticket!  Woohoo!

Moral of the story: Aeroflot has better availability if you are connecting somewhere!