PSA: Be Cautious Booking One Way Delta Flights To Europe

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One Way Delta Flights To Europe

I am in the process of planning a birthday trip for my wife this upcoming winter. It is a milestone birthday but I am sworn to secrecy on saying which milestone it is. Let’s just say she is about my age so you can figure it out! She wants to go to the holiday markets in Europe for her big celebration. The holiday markets have always been high on my list so I am all on board with this plan. Seeing as this is the first time I have been actively searching Europe flights in a bit, I noticed something different with Delta. I had taken a break after doing the continuous book and then cancel merry-go-round that covid rule changes brought. My plan was to burn my stash of Lifemiles on Lufthansa one way and then fly Delta the other way. That is when I noticed that one way Delta flights to Europe are a horrible deal now. I am not sure when this changed but Delta appears to be charging pretty much the same price for one way as they are for round trip flights.

RELATED: I discussed this a bit on this week’s podcast episode too.

One Way Delta Flights To Europe

Delta’s One Way Prices To Europe Are Out Of Control

Maybe this is a well known flaw in the Skymiles program and I missed the announcement somewhere. I can tell you it wasn’t this way before the pandemic started though as I was able to find one way flights out of Detroit (DTW) often for about half the cost of round trip bookings. Similar to what you see with Skymiles domestically. Ever since Delta ditched award charts a while back, and went fully dynamic on their pricing, it isn’t always exactly half but it is usually close enough. But, that is not the case on my searches to Europe.

I did searches for other international destinations too and they weren’t anywhere near as bad as Europe. Mexico and Canada worked similar to domestic travel, pretty much half the cost. South America was slightly more than half the cost and Tokyo had a premium for one way bookings but it was more like 60% of the cost versus 85%-100% of the round trip cost.

Some Booking Examples Of Bookings On Delta Metal

Here are some of the examples I tried to Europe using Delta Skymiles on Delta metal:

Detroit to Frankfurt in Premium Select – Price is the same one way as round trip

Delta One Way Skymiles One Way Delta Flights To Europe

Los Angeles to London Main Cabin: One way is 94% of the cost of round trip

New York to Amsterdam Main Cabin: One way costs 86% of the cost of round trip

Booking Partner Flights Using Skymiles Doesn’t Work The Same

The above examples where all on Delta planes. But what about when you are talking about partner planes? The prices are actually 50% because they adhere more to an actual award chart. The following examples are in main cabin (which used to be 25K one way a few years ago). I should note only main cabin space appeared in my searches so that is what is shown below.

Los Angeles to London On Virgin Atlantic 

One Way Delta Flights To Europe

New York to Amsterdam on KLM

One Way Delta Flights To Europe

The Work Around If You Really Want To Fly Delta One Way To Europe Though

While one way Delta flights to Europe are not a good option using Skymiles on Delta metal, you still have options. You can book one way flights for half cost using Delta’s partners’ programs to book Delta operated flights. The problem is Delta One award space is extremely hard to find. On top of that, premium select (first search above) is not an option at all. However, you can still find main cabin space fairly easily though.

Same one way JFK to AMS flight above booking on Virgin Atlantic

One Way Delta Flights To Europe

JFK to AMS booking on Air France / Flying Blue

Air France Booking

So it is still possible to book one way Delta flights to Europe at a good price using partner miles. Which one works best for you depends on if there are any transfer bonuses happening at the time and which account has some miles already sitting in it.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully I have shown you what to look out for if you plan on booking a one way Delta flight to Europe. If you want to go this route then Skymiles will likely offer you poor value, at least when flying on Delta’s own planes. If you use Skymiles to fly partner airlines one way you can still get good value though. The best option, per usual, will be booking your Delta flight with partner miles. That is assuming you can find the desired award space of course.

Flying one way to other international destinations using Skymiles still seems to be okay for the most part. It still comes at a premium over booking round trip but it isn’t 85%+ the round trip cost like I am seeing to Europe.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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15 COMMENTS

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to hear about the lifemiles portion of the trip! I have a stash and have run into roadblocks trying to book due to their dynamic pricing. Is it your experience that it is best to book far out or close in on the schedule?

    • For Lufthansa I can book domestic now for 30K round trip using Lifemiles but they don’t release partner seats for business until a few weeks out.

  2. lastly, DL one ways FROM EU are an even worse option – the taxes alone are greater and there is a 150$ fee for travel originating outside the US
    e.g., R/t to EU (AMS) taxes ar 75$; One way from EU taxes are 200$ just for return!

  3. I more or less follow DTW to Mexico and Colombia, and cash fares to various destinations I think of as my spots seem much higher than in the recent past, while point redemption rates are up ~12%. YMMV.

  4. Totally agree! I’m trying to book Bus Class for our family of 7 West Coast/ATH (Different itineraries). Finding dynamic pricing translates to whatever cash price is equals 1 point/reward. $5K ticket = 500K point/reward. Ridiculous. Has anyone tried Amex International Ticket program? At least the $5K would be 325K after the 35% rebate. Can’t even believe I’m thinking 325K for a RT is reasonable! Any thoughts on this appreciated!

    • Delta is tough to find saver business class seats on partners right now. Extremely difficult for more than one or two people. Have you considered / looked at other programs?

  5. I’m on the plane to FCO at the moment and last I checked Delra wanted.545,000 miles for D1. I got my ticket last year for 210,000 miles. Too bad that Delta is almoat punitive with the one ways esp. bc so easy to hop around Europe via train or cheapie flight.

    • Very true – a lot of times I am just looking for an entry flight to the area that works for cost and don’t even care if it is to where I want to end up. Once you are there getting around is quick and cheap.

  6. Yep, even last year when we flew Delta in economy from Barcelona to New York for I$99 each, the award price was like 50,000 miles plus taxes. Crazy! I

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