Why Caribbean Award Sales Can Be a Bad Deal on the Return

Delta is running a 48-hour award flash sale through August 17, 2016 to Caribbean & Mexico. Travel September 6-November 16, 2016. Details here.

Sale price awards are 35% off, supposedly starting at 11, 000 miles one-way, down from regular lowest price of 17,500. Yet New York-Bermuda is 10,000 miles. Go figure.

First, take a deep breath and consider:

  • Are you flying into a hurricane zone during hurricane season?
  • Is the cash rate cheaper than an award? This is off-season. I am seeing, for example, New York JFK-Bermuda one-way fares as low as $53.90.

Ok, if both check out, let’s continue.

This can be a great deal heading one-way from US to Caribbean where taxes are as low as $5.60 for a nonstop. Some Caribbean routes are always expensive and awards can be good value.

Returning is a different story. Most Caribbean destinations charge $70-100 departure tax. Much of a cash return fare can be the tax component. On awards you still pay the tax, so the return trip in this sale will be 11,000 miles + $70-100.

The smart play can be to book a one-way award to the Caribbean, then look for cheap cash rates on the return, using something like Delta Pay with Miles or Citi ThankYou Points to book it.

Here is a New York-Bermuda example:

Saturday, October 1, the Bermuda-New York JFK nonstop is:

BDA-JFK miles

or

BDA-JFK cash

  • 10,000 miles + $94.76
  • $138.56
  • Pay with Miles option 1: 5,000 miles + $88.56
  • Pay with Miles option 2: 10,000 miles + $38.56
  • Pay with Miles option 3: 15,000 miles + $0.00

In this example, Pay with Miles is a much better deal than this award sale.

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  • escot

    FINALLY, somebody in this hobby takes the time to at least mention this uuuUGE problem, the ever increasing mandatory fundraising (AKA taxes) being charged all across the Caribbean, most egregiously by the “common-wealth” countries (Jamaica, Bermuda, etc) with ties to where these airport taxes (e.g. soak the traveler for lining bureaucrat pockets) first got so out of hand. (namely, Britain)….

    Like your idea to use Delta pay with points…. wish Southwest had a similar option. (esp. as Southwest flights can be so readily cancelled/changed, if bad weather threatens)

    Would add paying for cheap return flights via Chase Ultimate Rewards points…. (when you can find the deals) I’ve done it so far with JetBlue — and I gather you can do it on SWA by phone to CUR.