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!

USAToday Finally Realizes What the Frequent Flier Community Has Been Saying for Years – Delta’s Award Availability is Awful

USAToday has an article from yesterday about Delta’s award availability.  It is actually a well done piece, which quotes both frequent fliers and Delta executive management.  I actually quite like this excerpt:

Michael Sommer, a consultant and a Diamond Medallion elite member with more than 2.3 million SkyMiles, is frustrated.
“Why should I have to spend twice as many miles for the same free ticket after earning those miles by flying on so many paid flights?” Sommer says.
After being unable to cash in the minimum number of miles for free business-class tickets for numerous flights departing over an eight-month period, Sommer wrote a complaint letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson.
In a response letter that Sommer provided to USA TODAY, Delta executive assistant Susanna Curtis apologized for “any frustration” he encountered, pointed out the benefits of the SkyMiles program and said the number of seats offered for free travel is limited.

I recently had a friend successfully book a summer award ticket for her and her husband to Italy with a 23 hour layover in France using Delta SkyMiles.  She had to pay 150,000 miles per ticket to fly in business class.

Using US Airways, United, or ANA Miles, this trip would only be 100,000 miles for a destination and a stopover.  I will in the future blog about an aspirational award booking I made for dear friends last year.  They got a business class award ticket in the middle of the summer for their honeymoon for 90,000 US Airways Miles per ticket.  This included a destination of Bangkok, Stopover in Hong Kong, and 23 hour layovers in Paris and Lisbon.

Another friend used 50,000 SkyMiles for Atlanta – Brunswick, GA round-trip in Delta Economy on relatively short notice.  60,000 SkyMiles would get you a free round-trip to Europe, with very difficult to redeem capacity controls.  My wife and I traveled to Europe last fall for 68,000 miles per person to Munich and Brussels in business class using ANA miles for US Airways and Lufthansa flights.

Delta is the worst of the worst.  I feel sorry for my friends who have decided to only bank their miles with them.  They suffer during redemption time, as this USAToday article validates.