Wringing value from Delta SkyMiles


a hand squeezing a lemon into a glass of juice

If you are flush with Delta SkyMiles, don’t flush them on redemptions requiring hundreds of thousands of miles each way! Instead, listen to this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air for our trips about how to squeeze more value out of your Delta SkyMiles, whether for travel on Delta or its partners.

Elsewhere on the blog this week, read about the upcoming huge transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic (and a few things you might want to do with those points), whether I’d cruise again with MSC, how to change your Amex FHR reservations, Alaska’s Starlux misstep, and more.


00:00 Intro
00:56 Award Talk
01:07 Bilt: 75% to 150% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
07:31 Now book ITA via Virgin Atlantic
10:17 Alaska makes Starlux bookable*** Note that we discuss pricing for this award that Alaska has already pulled. 
12:59 Amex adds Qatar as a transfer partner
15:44 Aeroplan now allows awards to be changed online
17:27 Choice and Radisson finally merge
21:47 Card Talk: Delta Gold SkyMiles and Delta Gold SkyMiles Business cards
28:34 Main Event: Wringing value from Delta SkyMiles
29:46 15% discount on Delta awards on Delta metal with several credit cards
30:17 Compare against the round trip prices
Unannounced sales
33:50 Westjet to Canada
36:18 Book awards that don’t start or end in the US or Canada
41:35 Finding partner award space on Delta.com
46:29 Question of the Week: What’s the best strategy to get rebooked when your partner award gets cancelled?

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This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

A great trick for finding Delta partner award availability

Delta Air Lines Greg in Delta One

We talked about this trick for finding Delta awards on this week’s show. The trick isn’t new, but it worked and then stopped working and then came back again at some point, so we published an update this week to alert readers to the fact that it once again working.

Alaska Airlines fumbles launch of Starlux awards

a row of seats in a plane

Well, Alaska Airlines sure botched this one. On this week’s show, we recommend booking this as soon as possible. It turns out our advice was spot on, we just forgot to tell you to also get a time machine to go back to when we recorded it. Promising availability during a certain window was foolish, but this is nonetheless quite disappointing.

Bilt August Rent Day: Up to 150% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic

a black credit card with a silver and silver logo

Speaking of rent day, we’ve got a big one coming up on August 1st: Bilt Rewards will be offering a transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic ranging from a 75% transfer bonus (for those with base level Bilt Rewards status, up to a 150% transfer bonus to those at the top level in the Bilt ecosystem. While I’d still hesitate to transfer speculatively given the fact that most of Virgin’s sweet spots rely on other airlines releasing award availability, this bonus could be a goldmine if you’ve found flights that you want to book.

Points alchemy: Convert Bilt to Hilton almost 1 to 4 ratio

a book open with a candle and a plant

I love it when Greg gets in the lab and cooks up some alchemy. This creative play switches out Bilt points for Hilton points this Rent Day. I probably wouldn’t do this, but I love Greg’s outside-the-box thinking on stuff like this.

Necker Island awards now require hefty cash co-pay (4 nights for 540K Virgin points + $5,400)

Sir Richard Branson Chokes Greg
Richard Branson choked me (Greg) as a joking answer to the question of how he felt about people using points to book stays on Necker Island

If you had aspirations to follow in Greg’s footsteps and nearly get choked out by Richard Branson, you’re now going to have to shell out a chunk of cash and settle for several fewer nights. That said, if you were using Membership Rewards points anyway, you could cash out 540,000 Membership Rewards points to pay the cash component and pay the 540K miles and have not paid a wildly disproportionate amount in comparison to the 1.7mil formerly required for a 7-night stay. And if you’re able to take advantage of that Bilt transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, it may ease the string considerably.

My free 10-night MSC European cruise experience

a man taking a selfie in front of a large blue and white sign

Entertainment was really good, port stops were terrific, and the food wasn’t worth more than the $513 that I spent for my family of four to have two cabins on a 10-night cruise from Italy with stops in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. In fact, the food was awful…and yet I’d do t again. Read my post to find out why.

You can now change the date on an Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection booking (and that’s great!)

a screenshot of a hotel registration

Good news: you can now change the date on your Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings. This was really helpful for me because I had a reservation coming up this week that I had made in December 2022 using my 2022 Platinum card prepaid FHR / Hotel Collection credit, but I wasn’t going to be able to use the reservation after all. I thought I was going to have to cancel and lose out on my 2022 credit, but thank goodness I had procrastinated all year on cancelling — I was able to just slide the dates a few days later and now the reservation will work out just fine.

Ultra-Premium Credit Card Travel Protections

a close up of a credit card

With the newly-refreshed Citi AAdvantage Executive card finally offering travel protections, it was time to also refresh this post with the latest information and points of comparison between the various ultra-premium credit cards.

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class: Bottom Line Review

a seat in a plane

Tim recently flew Singapore Airlines business class between New York and Frankfurt (in both directions). I read this post with particular interest because I’ll be flying this route very soon. I was disappointed to hear that the lounge options at JFK are so subpar since I expect to be there quite early for my flight and I was hoping to access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse since the Plaza Premium website doesn’t note the same time restrictions as Priority Pass (Tim reports that was a no-go). The flight itself looks to be as good as I’d hoped and I look forward to a restful night’s sleep across the Atlantic.

Free Checked Bags via Credit Card Complete Guide

a baby sleeping on a suitcase

Many frequent travelers live by the mantra “never check bags”, but for many of us (myself included), that just isn’t realistic. My family always checks bags — and it can add up quickly. The good news is that you don’t need elite status to get free bags since that is a common airline credit card benefit, but the benefit does not work the same for each airline. For instance, United requires that you buy your ticket with your United card in order to get the benefit (so you won’t get free bags on a domestic economy award booked with partner miles!), but American Airlines gives you the benefit just for being a cardholder. Read more about the details and differences in the post.

Selecting a Vegetarian meal on JAL (and why I won’t next time)

Steamed Veggies with Rice on JAL
As you can see from the picture, there wasn’t really any seasoning or sauce of any kind for this dish: just steamed veggies on rice.

I’m not vegetarian like Carrie, but either am I a big carnivore. My years of flying in premium cabins have taught me that nobody cooks beef well in the sky, so I never order a beef dish on a plane anymore, and I don’t like seafood or fish, so I frequently find that my choices are between a chicken dish and a vegetarian(ish) dish….and I often end up choosing the vegetarian dish. A few times in the last couple of years, they’ve run out of options like those and I’ve ended up not eating on a long flight. For that reason, I’ve often considered ordering a “special meal” in advance to be sure that I don’t get stuck choosing between things I won’t want, but Carrie’s post about her experience with the vegetarian meal on JAL makes me think I should stick with my strategy of hoping that they don’t run out of the default veggie-ish option given that it’s not a strict dietary restriction for me.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep your eye on this week’s month-ending last chance deals to be sure you catch them before they’re gone.

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Daniel A

Thanks for the Westjet info! I just looked to see the pricing to Hawaii. HNL-YVR is 45K + $62 RT and widely available (sadly to/from Toronto is pricing much higher). Anyway, good to know it’s an option.

Daniel A

Adding – Aeroplan is pricing at 55.6K + $103 for comparable HNL-YVR flights. So 1 point for Delta miles!


Thanks for the reminder on WestJet! Looking at a trip to Banff next year and non-stop from our home airport to YEG or YYC is the easiest flight option, sometimes the tickets are under $200 but the points option would be good if they spike to $400+ as seems to happen randomly. Now I just need AMEX to stop throwing P2 and I in pop up jail so we can actually get more AMEX cards!


I get good value for random domestic economy flights




Unfortunately, “random” doesn’t help me much. 🙂

Glad for you, though.


Tried to take advantage of the new deals to Bahamas from lax but still in pop up jail with Amex. Ever since I got the Amex platinum 4 months ago. Very strange because I spend on my 2 american express cards every month but I have opened 6 personal cards in the last 2 years with most of them under 1 year of age.


Thank you for sharing these Delta “bland spots” to help find decent value. The SkyPesos monicker makes a lot of sense now, since I need to fly from MEX or S.A. to get regular pricing.

Last edited 9 months ago by Nun