Delta award stop-overs only partially broken

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Delta has long allowed both a stop-over and an open-jaw on round trip awards.  This meant that it was possible to stop in multiple cities for the price of a single award.  For example, you could fly from the US to London, stop over for days or weeks, then continue on to your destination, let’s say Rome, hang out for a while, then make your own way perhaps to Madrid by train (this part is an “open jaw” since you’re not flying this part as part of the award), then return home from Madrid.  The entire round trip award should price the same as a non-stop round trip award to Rome and back. 

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Unfortunately, it came to light yesterday that Delta is no longer pricing awards like these correctly (or they eliminated stop-overs as valid within awards).  By adding a stop-over in London, as shown above, the price of the award goes up.  If London is not a stop-over, but a layover (less than 24 hours) then it should still price correctly. 

You can read about this issue in the following posts:

Based on the above post titles, you might be led to believe that this was a deliberate no-notice devaluation from Delta.  That’s certainly possible.  My guess, though, is that this is a bug.  I bet they were trying to prepare the award engine for the massive changes (including true one-way awards) expected on January 1st and this issue with stop-overs was an unintended consequence.

UPDATE: Delta Points reports the following from Delta corporate:

There are no changes to stopovers. A recent change in IT at Delta.com discontinued the ability to book intl. stopovers online. You could still book them via reservations agents. We [Delta] are working with the res agents (who handle the bulk of the bookings already) to ensure they are properly assisting customers who might.

What works, what doesn’t

After reading the One Mile at a Time post on this topic, I quickly tried to price my own award with a stop-over.  I saw that One Mile at a Time had included Delta partners (Alitalia and Virgin Atlantic).  My guess was that it was the inclusion of partners that had caused his award to price incorrectly.  I was wrong about that.  A similar itinerary, entirely on Delta metal, showed the same issue.

This morning, I tried domestic awards instead.  Luckily, every variation of a domestic award that I tried successfully priced the awards correctly, even with a stop-over and open-jaw.  Here is what I’ve found so-far:

Awards that work with stop-over and open jaw:

  • Domestic economy
  • Domestic first class
  • Domestic mixed-cabin (mix of economy and first class)

Awards in which a stop-over adds to the award price:

  • US to Europe, stopover in Europe
  • US to Europe, stopover on the return in the US

Questions left to answer

  1. Is the elimination of the stop-over benefit a bug that Delta might someday fix?
  2. Is the elimination of the stop-over benefit an intentional change?  If so, will Delta squash domestic stop-overs too?
  3. Where else do stop-overs continue to work?  Will they work on all awards that are entirely within one zone?  Only US?  Will they work between zones in certain regions?

Readers, have you found any other combinations of awards with stop-overs that price as expected other than fully domestic awards?  Please comment below.

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