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Chase Ultimate Rewards® has some great frequent travel program partners, but Delta SkyMiles® isn’t one of them. You’ll need an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards® points to be able to transfer points into your Delta SkyMiles® account.
But you can book Delta flights with your Chase points, and get some very good deals, even for international Business Class flights.
To take advantage of them, you can leverage three Ultimate Rewards partners, Air France Flying Blue, Korean Skypass, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, that are partners with Delta. By transferring your Chase points into Korean Skypass or Virgin Flying Club, you can book Delta flights using the award prices of either program.
They charge different prices for the same Delta flights, so you’ll want to pay attention to both before you book to make sure you get the lowest possible price.
Here’s how to do it:
- Book with Air France Flying Blue
- Book with Korean Skypass
- Book with Virgin Flying Club
- Book with the Chase site
Air France Flying Blue is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and is also part of the SkyTeam Alliance with Delta, so you can transfer points to Air France and use them to book Delta flights.
Best for: Flights within North / South America, and to Europe
Air France is a member of the same SkyTeam alliance as Delta, which means you can book Delta flights with Air France Flying Blue miles, provided there is availability on your route. And Air France Flying Blue is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou®, so you can convert your ThankYou® points into Flying Blue miles anytime.
To check flights, you can simply search for award flights on AirFrance.us, and you’ll see the prices Flying Blue will charge. You can also see a chart of Flying Blue award prices here.
Here’s how to search and book Delta flights by transferring your points to Flying Blue.
1. Create a free FlyingBlue account here. You’ll need the account ID to search for award flights.
2. Go to the AirFrance.us home page, and click on ‘Use Your Miles,’ then login with your account ID.
3. You can enter your destination and travel dates
4. You’ll get a calendar of dates with awards available and their prices
5. When you click on a date, you’ll get a list of flights to choose from.
If you like one of the options, call Air France on 1 800 375 8723. Tell them you want to book an award, but need to transfer points from Chase. They should be able to put the award on hold for up to 48 hours. Then you can transfer the points from Chase to Air France online, which is usually instant.
Korean Airlines Skypass is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and is also part of the SkyTeam Alliance with Delta.
Best for: Flights within North / South America (especially to Hawaii at a killer 25,000 miles roundtrip), and flights that involve a connecting flight to Asia (otherwise use Virgin Flying Club with no fuel surcharges, but tricky pricing for connecting flights).
A few quick guidelines for planning bookings with Korean SkyPass miles:
- 1 stopover is allowed on a round trip, so you can get a visit to two cities for the price of one
- 1 open-jaw is allowed at the destination, so you can return from a different city than your destination
- Only roundtrips are allowed when flying partners
- 2 connections are allowed per direction
- Watch out for fuel surcharges – flights to Asia are reasonable, but flights to Europe have very high surcharges and you’re better off using the Virgin Flying Club option below
- A few award chart sweet spots, e.g. US – Hawaii for 25,000 miles roundtrip (as opposed to Delta’s 45,000 miles)
The most important thing to realize here is that when booking on partners, like Delta, only roundtrip bookings are allowed. This means that you need to be able to find availability for both directions of your travel within the other requirements for booking an award with Korean Miles.
Here’s the award chart for Delta flights using Korean miles:
Korean does have a bad reputation for awards being difficult to book. It is far from impossible, and for the value you can get it is definitely worth the extra hassle. All you need to do is follow these steps.
- Find Availability. This is easy on the Skypass website – just login here with a free Skypass account and choose ‘Award Booking,’ then ‘SkyTeam Awards’ when you search.
- Book or place the ticket on hold. If you are ready to book and have transferred points over, you can book right away on the Korean website and you’re done. But if you want to play it safe you can put your award on hold for several days free of charge while you do a transfer from Chase. Just call the Korean Air Skypass phone number at (800) 438 – 5000. Be sure to let the agent know that you will be transferring miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards when you are putting the ticket on hold.
- Complete the Skypass Award Application if you’re booking for someone else. In order to book an award ticket for someone else with Korean, you will need to complete this application and attach a copy of your passport. It will ask for the reservation code of the ticket, and the names of the passengers flying. Note that you can only book awards for yourself and family members. You’ll also need to submit documentation indicating your relationship to that person – beware that this additional documentation can sometimes delay the confirmation of your booking by a few days. Email the competed form to engskypass [at] koreanair.com.
- Call Back to Issue Your Ticket. One your transfer is complete and you have emailed the SkyPass Award Application, call SkyPass back to get your ticket issued. The agent will need to check that they have received your Award Application and then will take down your credit card information and issue your ticket.
Korean doesn’t charge to change the dates of awards, which is a really handy feature to keep in mind in case your plans change. And you can refund your award ticket with no penalty up to a year after the ticket is issued.
Virgin Atlantic is another partner of Delta Airlines and as such allows redemption of their miles to fly on Delta.
Best for: Nonstop flights to Europe and Asia thanks to no fuel surcharges.
Here are a few things you will want to keep in mind when considering a booking with Virgin Atlantic:
- You can only book roundtrip tickets – one way awards are not allowed on Delta flights with Virgin miles
- You can’t mix other airlines with these prices. They are only for trips that are 100% on Delta flights.
- There are no fuel surcharges for Delta flights to Europe, but you will pay surcharges if your trip starts in Europe.
- While the chart only lists a few routes to Europe via London, in practice you can book any Delta route to Europe with Virgin miles.
- Connecting flights get charged as separate trips. So if you’re connecting for example Dallas – Atlanta – Paris, you’ll pay the price for a Dallas – Atlanta trip PLUS the price of an Atlanta – Paris trip. For Economy Class, that would be 60,000 + 25,000 = 85,000 miles roundtrip.
- You have to call Flying Club on 1 (800) 365 – 9500 to book – there is no online option to redeem.
Here’s the award chart for Delta flights using Virgin miles:
To book flights with Virgin Flying Club miles you need to follow these steps.
- Find Availability. This can be done by searching on Delta.com or AirFrance.com to find Delta availability at the low level. Any Delta flights that show up on the Air France site and are deemed a “Classic Award,” just like above, should also be bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles.
- Call Virgin Atlantic to Book. You must call Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-862-8621 in order to book partner awards.
- Virgin Atlantic Checks Space. Virgin Atlantic may have to call airline partners in order to verify the space is available. Expect your phone call with them to take a little while.
- Book the Ticket. Once you know that the space is available you can go ahead and transfer points (it’s generally instant) and book the ticket.
Virgin charges a reasonable $50 fee for changes or refunds more than 24 hours before your flight, but there are no changes or refunds allowed within 24 hours of your flight.
As a general rule, it’s often possible to get better value out of your points by transferring them to an airline’s frequent flyer than booking travel directly through Chase. When booking directly, your ticket will be treated like a revenue ticket and you will earn frequent flyer miles on the ticket, which also means that you won’t have to worry about availability.
You can use your Ultimate Rewards points to pay for any flight available, with every point worth 1.25 cents, so 10,000 points = $125 in flight value.
If you don’t have enough points for the flights you want, you can use as few as 1,000 points for reduce the price of your ticket and pay the rest with cash.
The best strategy is to first check the price of your trip on the Chase website, then see if any of the partner transfer options above cost fewer points. If one of them could cost less, follow the steps above to check for award space, and if space is available, transfer your points over to the partner and you’ll get the best available point price.
Otherwise, use your Ultimate Rewards points to buy your ticket on the Chase website.